As we speak, the 15th Annual Santa Fe International Film Festival has been going for just about a day (and you can read reviews for numerous films over at sfreporter.com), and it’ll keep going through the weekend. We’re a fan, especially since we’ve watched the thing grow from folding chairs in the old teen center to a multi-day, multi-theater affair featuring big-name filmmakers, movies, panels and more. This year will even find Reservation Dogs creator Sterlin Harjo making the trek to town to pick up the fest’s Visionary Award. Neat!
“But, The Fork!” you just shouted, causing most of a sandwich you were eating to fall out of your mouth and onto your lap. “Why are you talkin’ to us food-heads about a film fest?”
First of all, you need to CALM. DOWN. Secondly, because we’re not actually here to talk about the movie part of the movie so much as we are the snack part of it. Hell, in Santa Fe, at Violet Crown Cinema, you can hork down a whole-ass meal like pizza or Frito pie or, our current favorite, blue corn chicken flautas with red chile on the side for dipping. These days, it’s normal, but just as we were much of the way through a gigantic bag of Sour Patch Kids the other day at the movies, we really stopped to think about why food and film have become so inextricably linked.
A few things make up the why and how of why and how we do that.
We’ll take it back to the early days of cinema houses, or Nickelodeons as some were called, where you could spend a nickel and see 750 movies and still have change left over for a strong cuppa. In reality, those little movie house fuckers of the 1920s and 1930s didn’t serve a damn thing for food, so nearby restaurants started offering up dishes to go that people could just waltz on in with. That evolved over time, though, to more of a sports arena type thing where jerks carrying backpacks full of hot dogs or whatever would wander the aisles selling their stuff.
Around this same time, a whole mess of candies we know and love today emerged. You know, your Milk Duds and your Baby Ruths and your Sno Caps and Raisinets and Red Vines. People started sneaking those bad boys in, too. Or...y’know, it wasn’t really sneaking as they didn’t have the same kind of rules back then, but moviegoers were buying candy and bringing candy to the movies and everyone was cool with it.
And then came the freaking Great Depression.
Oh, sure, people were still going to the movies because what the hell else were they doing? Reading one of those stock ticker things we’ve all seen in movies but we don’t know how or why they work? Throwing themselves from buildings as the market crashed? Heck, no! Instead movie houses started charging those vendors for space within their theaters. Later, when they realized that they were leaving money on the table, theater owners started doing snacks themselves and kicking the other nerds to the curb. Any guesses as to what they started selling at first, class? Popcorn. Duh. You bet your ass it was popcorn. To this day popcorn is cheap and doesn’t need to be refrigerated and, let’s face it, is a pretty solid-ass little snack that people had made in bulk since, like, the dang 1880s or something. At some point down the line, the theaters started carrying candy, too, though items like M&Ms and gummis were a bit more popular since they didn’t get super melty before you ate them. To be fair, M&Ms were pretty popular anyway since they wound up in ration packs during World War II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold, but gummis are dope and you just need to live with that fact.
More candy started popping up in the 1970s and 1980s (like the famous Reese’s Pieces/E.T. thing where M&Ms had the chance to be in the film but said they thought it was dumb so Reese’s was like, “Yeah, we’ll do it!” and thus almost killed M&Ms...you remember that?). By the 1990s, we started seeing hot dogs and nachos in earnest in theaters. Some places today are even like, “You want a steak while you watch Saw X?” And so it goes and shall go, on and on in perpetuity throughout the known universe.
But it’s not just a matter of candy+popcorn=good. In fact, a 2013 study from the Association for Consumer Research found that ambient lighting plays a role in how and why we eat at the movies. In short, dimmer light makes us hungrier and it also has a say in how we eat. In the dark and at the movies, we seem to prefer singular flavors more (one type of candy, for example, or popcorn on its own) because we don’t much have to pay attention to what we’re eating that way. That lack of attention (y’know, because we’re watching a movie) also changes how much we eat, which is why popcorn buckets are more like tubs these days.
There’s also something to be said for how our senses work. At the movies, you’re in the dark. So your body compensates for the lesser vision by upping how things feel and taste. Kinda cool, that bit, though we do want to give a shout-out to our blind friends who most certainly can and do attend movies. We aren’t sure how snacking works for them in this case, though as most people should probably know, blindness is a spectrum and, in many cases, not just sheer darkness, so...yeah.
Temperature’s a thing, too, which explains why it was so goddamned cold in the theater the other day. This makes your brain say, “Hey, we’re about to freeze to death or something, so we need more calories ASAP.” Part of us wants to say that a movie theater’s staff wouldn’t be so psychologically devious. Another part of us says that of course they would. And to that, we say boo-urns (now THAT’S a film fest deep cut joke, and the first person to tell us where we got it gets...we dunno, something, though not necessarily a prize, but maybe, like, eternal glory or something).
Anyway, there’s probably more at play, too, but we already wrote so many freaking words that we’re going to move on. In summation, the Santa Fe International Film Fest is going, and it’s fun to eat garbage at the movies. Action!
-If you hadn’t heard, Raaga Go chef Paddy Rawal quietly announced his retirement by email earlier this week, which means closing the restaurant, and then he kind of went to ground. Like, no one could find the guy to ask more questions. It’s a little weird as he just applied and was approved for a beer and wine liquor license last month, but whatever folks wanna do is cool by us so long as they’re not hurting others on purpose. Everything we know is right here through this link. We know this is a tough blow for Indian food fans around here, so we’re sorry about that. We’re just sitting here wondering what overwhelmingly adored local restaurant is gonna close next.
-We heard on the street that Restaurant Martín from chef Martín Rios celebrated its 14th birthday last week. Way to go, Rioses (Martín’s wife Jennifer is awesome). If’n you didn’t know, these folks get nominated for James Beard Awards like it’s their job, because we guess it kind of is. Here’s to 16 more, for a total of 30. Then maybe you can take a vacay or something, Martín? Actually, given the shape of things right now, maybe just be open forever?
-While we were dining at our much-loved Sagche’s Coffee House the other day (where, btw, we recommend getting either the waffle, the egg sandwich with a side of fruit or fries, the taco salad or the brekkie b), we noticed that the biz has expanded into the next space over, making for a much larger and flowy atmosphere. While we want to share things we love with everyone, we encourage y’all not to tell everybody else, at least until us regulars have a chance to take out the new environs for a spin. Dammit, we just love that place so much.
-Lastly, in local food stuff this week, we noticed that local donuttery Craft Donuts is hiring for barista/donut slinger, and we think that sounds like a great way to eat a whole messload of donuts, so we’re about it. Email email@example.com to apply, and then send any donuts you make to The Fork (c/o The Santa Fe Reporter). Thank you. And to answer your next question—yes, we know we said “donuttery,” and that’s just something y’all are gonna have to live with. Like when we say brekkie. It’s like, if we were to call up our mom to get breakfast as craft, we’d be like, “Hey, goober—we wanna get brekkie at the donuttery! Jimmy on yer wellies and let’s kick bricks!” And she’d be like, “I wish you were never born, The Fork!” And then we’d be all, “We know, you wrote that in our birthday card last year.” Anyway, they’re hiring at the donut place.
We just think everyone needs to hear this killer song.
-We hear customers are being prompted to tip at more and more grocery store self-checkout kiosks. And that this is making people feel weird. We don’t blame ‘em. Already we’re kind of like, “Uh, word, dude, we’re supposed to do the checkout work for you and now tip you for it?” And we’re tipping maniacs (25% is our BASE, dude—our BASE). Anyway, we’d rather people got jobs than whatever nightmare situation we’re now living. We just would.
-Oh, good, car company Tesla now has a limited edition beer. We shan’t bore you with the reasons we believe Elon Musk is the stupidest man in the galaxy, but we will say that there’s nothing wrong with cheap beer...or local beer...or no beer.
-Hey, sour candy fans, be aware that not one but two sour candy products have been recalled just before Halloween due to choking hazards. The Slime Licker Sour Rolling Liquid Candy and the Cocco Candy Rolling Candy are both a no-go this year, so keep an eye out in case you see them. We love sour candy, though, and figure we can eat them without choking, so if you do come across them, send them to The Fork (c/o Santa Fe Reporter).
-Turns out that sweeping food trends that make their way into restaurant dessert menus have a lot of sway when it comes to how folks like their sugary treats. In a fascinating piece on Fork-fave site Eater-dot-com, writers Amy McCarthy, Jaya Saxena and Nick Mancall-Bitel have a little something to say about that. It’s cool!
-Lastly, in not-just-local news this week, fast food chain Popeye’s has a new sandwich on the menu, and it’s all about spiciness and truffle flavor. Now, you can call us a heathen or whatever, but truffle stuff (which, btw, is not often actually made with truffles) tends to overpower the flavors of almost any dish in our opinion. Still, if someone handed us Popeye’s Spicy Truff (which is what it’s called, actually), we’d at least try the thing.
A Totally Scientific Breakdown of The Fork’s Correspondence
In the print edition of SFR this week, find an interesting interview with the Santa Fe Community College’s Milton Villarrubia III as the institution reopens its East Wing Eatery. You don’t even have to be a student to eat there!
Number of Letters Received
*Y’all don’t really care about brekkie, huh?
Most Helpful Tip of the Week (a barely edited letter from a reader)
“Suck it up and eat breakfast already, God!”
*You didn’t really read our whole thing last week, did you?
Actually Helpful Tip(s)
“My temp is 95-96 in the am and goes up to a max of 97.5 in the evening. Due to my low ‘normals’ I count a fever as 99. So, like a turtle (and all reptiles), I don’t eat when I’m cool! I have to warm up. I trust other mammals share my metabolism—maybe they don’t eat breakfast either.”
*It makes so much sense, reader Heidi H.! We’re a lizard person! That explains why we don’t like breakfast right after waking—and why we keep falling asleep on that huge, flat rock in the sun!
With a hard candy shell,