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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thor in 3D and Packaged Scandinavian Food at Home

Posted By on Thu, May 12, 2011 at 10:00 AM

St. Louis needs a Scandinavian restaurant. If we had one, Gut Check wouldn't have embarked on a culinary saga worth of Snorri Sturluson.

  • Deborah Hyland

Scandinavian food isn't all fermented shark and the occasional puffin. Think chilled salmon with a mustard and dill sauce, baby potatoes and midsummer feasts of boiled crayfish. It would be the perfect match to see Thor in 3D. Alas, even the nearest Ikea cafeteria is five hours away.

If Gut Check was going to do dinner and a movie, we were going to have to work at it.

Day one: Pull the aquavit out of the depths of the freezer, then try to find a Scandinavian restaurant. After a few hours of searching, give up on Plan A.

  • Deborah Hyland

Day Two: Recruit a strapping, young Viking for a date, then stop by Global Foods in Kirkwood to pick up some packaged Scandinavian foods. Enjoy the pickled herring in brännvin on rye crispbreads with a dollop of sour cream. Drink more aquavit.

Day three, dinner and a movie day: Get stood up by the strapping, young Viking (only two of those descriptors were true anyway). Drink more aquavit. Open the can of Husmor Fiskekaker. Dig out one fishcake and a substantial clot of brown gravy. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Take two bites, then a third. Ponder hotdog-like texture of the fishcake and decide to focus on the gravy.

In spite of its pronounced fishy flavor, the gravy is still gravy: deep brown, viscous, comforting. Decide that the fishy flavor is overwhelming whatever good qualities canned gravy can have. Flush the remaining fish cake and gravy down the toilet.

Spend the next two hours feeling as queasy as a landlubbing tourist on a North Sea whale-watching excursion. Nibble on rye cripsbreads and antacids to keep the fishcake at bay. Worry about the effects of a 3D film on a tendency towards motion sickness. Decide to scratch the movie night.

Day four Finish off the pickled herring. Go solo to Thor in 3D.

Mmmm, fishcakes in gravy... - DEBORAH HYLAND
  • Deborah Hyland
  • Mmmm, fishcakes in gravy...

The film itself isn't bad, per se, but Chris Hemsworth as Thor lacks the charisma and crackling wit of Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man. There's very little sexual chemistry or even banter with Natalie Portman as the love interest, but Hemsworth does wander about for a time with his shirt off before learning humility and self-sacrifice and being allowed to don his manly armor once again.

The film cuts back and forth between the barren deserts of New Mexico and the chilly CGI spectacle of Asgard. Stellan Skarsgard, in a restrained performance, functions as the teller of Norse legends: of Loki and the frost giants, of Yggdrasil, Bifrost, and Mjolnir. Still, Thor speaks with an Australian accent, and his band of friends include Tadanobu Asano and Idris Elba. The diverse casting led to a bit of an online kerfuffle, but really, does it matter? Thor isn't actually based on Norse legend; it's a comic book movie. The authenticity standards aren't terribly high.

In fact, maybe Gut Check should cut ourselves some slack in the quest for culinary authenticity. So what did we eat at the movie? Swedish fish, of course.

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