I do not speak enough languages to express how spot-on this film is on living life abroad. Even if you are a Frenchman and your home is a two hour flight away, the fact of living in another country, or Spain to be exact, is so overwhelming you think there is nothing that could capture it. This film, L’auberge espagnole, though set in 2002, is so in line with my experiences in Barcelona it’s shocking. The way the protaganist interacts with the locals, the way he meets a plethora of people from other countries; it’s all there. He recounts upon meeting them, “How it felt he was always here, in the chaos and the mess”. I felt that way too. How I met people from all over the world and although it was so different and exotic, at the same time it felt as it had always been that way. It felt as though I was where I was meant to be. Something rather poignant in the film was when one of the foreign exchange students asked the professor to teach in Spanish and he refused. He stated they were in Catalunya and they had to learn Catalan. This, my friends, was the story of my life.
Xavier is navigating his way through Barcelona with poor Spanish and even worse Catalan, though making the best of it and learning quite a lot along the way. You will love this film even if you’ve never been to Spain or abroad, but you will love it even more if you have. It hits the right spot on so many levels. It also feautes the glorious Audrey Tautou and Cecile de France, French perfection. I would even say this film is a bit Amelie-esque, and you’ll know it when you see it.
There’s love, lust, tension, friendship, drama, heartbreak-ingredients for the way movies were meant to be made. Most importantly, it shows the Spanish way of life. How knowing Spanish ‘well’ can change how you see the world; in more ways than one and that taking a risk can the best thing you can ever do.
This film shows you places in Barcelona you won’t see unless you’re there; places I have walked myself. It shows you the good, the bad, the ugly. The same thoughts the characters had in the film, I found myself having at one point during my time there. At one point, they sing, ‘No Woman, No Cry’ a song that Joan said he liked way back when. It’s like I wasn’t alone in my experiences and that was comforting.
Three’s a moment when Xavier is walking home and he looks at everything around him, almost in a subdued panic, if that makes sense. He is taking in everything, wanting to see everything-that says it all.
So what to make with a film such as this? It had to be something that inspires comfort yet keeps the French and Spanish aesthetic. Zucchi Fritters or Beignet’s aux Courgettes.
1 cup (200g) long-grain rice
1/2 Onion, chopped
3 tbsp chopped parsley
2 large zucchini (courgettes), grated
1 1/2 oz Ricotta
3 oz Chevre
2 large eggs
3 tbsp flour
Salt and Pepper
3 tbsp EVOO
Cook the rice and 2 cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes. Once done, remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
Take a large bowl and combine the rice, onion, parsley, zucchini, ricotta, goat cheese, egg, flour, salt and pepper and stir until well blended. Refrigerate for about twenty minutes.
Then, take a non-stick pan and heat up your oil (I used Sunflower) until ready. Take a spoon and add a bit to the pan, the oil should almost cover it all and cook until golden brown, flipping every 2 to 3 minutes.
The higher the heat, the quicker they cook. I lowered the heat to about a five on my stove but found it was taking a bit longer but they cooked more evenly. Once I got the hang of it, I turned up the oil to a medium-high at about a six or seven and was able to make more, quicker.
This is a perfect dish for an appetizer or snack and goes very well with this movie when you’re curled up with a blanket and some comfort food! I’d love to know what you think about this film, especially those of you who have lived in Barcelona. How did you see it?
Until next time, Adios and Bon Appetit!