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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dinner in a Movie

Munching appears to go hand in hand (or mouth) with the movie watching experience. With ticket prices at an all time high, and the usurious pricing of movie concession snacks, going to a movie is no cheap affair. Faced with affordable technologies that enable people to build home theaters, movie theaters are attempting gimmicks, such as diversifying from popcorn and snacks into offering full bore meals. Places like the Alamo Drafthouse and Movie Tavern offer essentially a contemporary American bar menu to be served to patrons before and during the movie feature. Both tout the relative advantage of being able to order a beer and having it brought to you. Given the premium charged for typical sodas in conventional movie houses, paying that much for a beer seems more palatable to the movie going public.

In reality, though, the experience is seldom smooth. Movie style seating, for example, does not really work well to allow waiters to come through to bus tables without disturbing someone. Summoning a waiter or ordering items a la carte as the main feature is in progress is also at best a tricky proposition. But the biggest failing, in my opinion, is the selection of food itself. Popcorn succeeds as a near ideal movie food for a number of reasons: it offers texture without being loud, ample seasoning, can last an extended period of time, can be eaten with one hand, and perhaps the most of important thing, does not require vision to eat it.

A big juicy cheeseburger? A salad? Cheesecake? These items are a disaster waiting to happen when the lights are out. They are foods that demand their share of your attention, rather than just supplementing your experience while your attention is focused elsewhere. Not to mention they are difficult to clean off when a kid throws a handful at you.

I daresay it's time to put some thought into foods that hold up better to the movie watching experience. For example, nice thick milkshakes would work well. Especially those supplemented with tapioca balls. Krupuk will hold up well, or maybe shelled edamame, onigiri, and macarons. Green mango slices are popular in Southeast Asia, although I suspect the addition of fermented fish paste may limit the popularity in American. Do you have any ideas to supplement the selection?

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