Sayonara, Baby: Sake It To Me Marlon

Our dinner and a movie series continues with Brando, Buttons and sake martinis

In our continuing series of take-out dinners, this week's dinner and a movie is  paired with the movie Sayonara starring Marlon Brando and Red Buttons. Brando and Buttons play two Korean War army air force buddies stationed at Itami Air Force Base who fall in love with Japanese women at a time when the military considered that tabu, especially for a West Point educated general's son with a bad southern accent, as brilliantly played by Brando.

But let's dish food first. Located on River Road, Lotus serves up Japanese and Thai, as well as traditional Chinese food. This week we're all about Japanese food. Apps are a must and we can't help but order edemame to start. Yes, they're steamed soybeans, but they're salted and addictive--the perfect accompaniment to a warm sake martini (recipe to follow). Edemame are like salted nuts. Only without the nuts. 

Another app that pairs well with sake is Beef Negimaki -- thinly sliced beef rolled w. scallion in teriyaki sauce. The texture of the beef wrapped in scallion coupled with the salt of the teriyaki sauce puts your taste buds over the top. 

And you can never go wrong with Shumai which is a steamed shrimp dumpling. Again, the warm sake martini pairs perfectly with the Shumai.

For dinner we like to order a bunch of dishes and just have everyone dig in. The Drunken Noodles are a must, and need no explanation. And it's so much fun to order, "I'll have the 'Drunken Noodles, please. Do they come sober as well?" Come on!

Admittedly we like spice, so when ordering dinner from Lotus, we tend to Thai it on big time. Our favorite dishes are Thai Spicy Beef with onion, bell pepper, mushroom, eggplant in sweet and spicy sauce; Thai Basil Chicken with bell pepper, string bean, onion, mushroom, basil and peanut sauce; and Penang Curry Chicken with coconut milk, bell pepper, potato, carrot, onion and peanut. 

The perfect movie to pair with this meal is 1957's Sayonara starring Marlon Brando when Brando was still the wild one. Sayonara tells the story of a hunky American Air Force fighter pilot (Brando as Major Lloyd Gruver) who was an "ace" flier in the Korean War and is now stationed in Japan. It takes the movie less than five minutes to tell us that "ace" is "involved" with a bubbly "Daddy gets me everything I want and I want you!" superior officer's daughter and that her bubbles went flat on him during the opening credits. 

Brando's buddy and crew chief, Airman Kelly played by Red Buttons, is in love with, and marries, a Japanese woman knowing that the army is against such marriages and will not recognize it. But she bathes him, wraps him in silk, speaks little English and shuffles to anticipate his every need. Of course he loves her! I love her!  

In his effort to dissuade Kelly from marrying Katsumi, Brando falls for her friend in a "wow, didn't see that one coming--not" kind of way. Still, Brando is captivating in the way he goes after something considered to be so forbidden. There's no question, Brando would have been an Eden apple eater and, despite 12 years of Catholic school, this editor probably would have chewed on the core while poking the serpent with a stick, so convincing is he that if it feels right, it can't be wrong.

Spoiler alert: When asked by a Stars and Stripes reporter what he'll tell the army brass about marrying his own Japanese lover, and Brando says, "Tell 'em we said 'Sayonara'" it's all you can do not to shout "I will Marlon! I'll tell them Sayonara!"

Phew, don't know what's hotter, the Thai (food) or the Italian (Brando).

Sayonara won four Academy Awards, including best supporting actor for Red Buttons and best supporting actress Miyoshi Umeki, the first Asian recipient of an Academy Award. It also received Academy Awards for best art/set direction and best sound. In other words, it's a good flick. 

Sayonara is the perfect movie to cozy up to with a warm sake martini. They're simple and lethal:

  • 3 ounces of sake warmed in the microwave
  • a splash of vodka
  • a triangular martini glass
  • a pillow to soften the falls

After a few of these you won't be able to feel your "seat" muscles and you'll continually slide off the sofa, so attach a pillow to your netherparts, make yourself comfortable on the floor, lift your glass and say, "Sayonara Baby!"

And don't forget that you can go to the New Milford Library's website to order the movie. If they don't have it they will get it from a library that does.


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