This is inspired by the animated film Madagascar that Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures selected for December's Movies & Munchies event. This movie came out in 2005 when my older son was almost three and my younger son was almost eighteen months. Needless to say it was age appropriate and we watched it many, many times.
On the Screen
I already mentioned that this post is inspired by our December Movies & Munchies pick, Madagascar. This is about a motley crew of animals who escape from New York's Central Park Zoo. We have Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, and Gloria the hippo. All of them have spent their lives in captivity, on display for the zoo patrons with regular meals provided. When Marty leaves the zoo for an adventure, the friends go after him and all get captured. Instead of being returned to the zoo, they are shipped off to a wildlife reserve in Africa. But things go astray and they wash up on the shores of Madagascar where they have to adjust to life in the wild.
The highlight of this movie - for me - are the friendships between the characters...and the penguins!
My Madagascar-Loving Toddler
When the movie Madagascar first came out, my then toddler had a pair of shoes with the characters on them. Here he is! You can almost make out Alex the Lion's mane, right?
He was so proud of those shoes and was trying to show them off to his Aunt Pia and Aunt Jenn when we were having a picnic with them. 'Ma-ga-gar!' he announced, pointing at his shoe. What, Sweetheart? they both asked. 'Ma-ga-gar!' he said louder, inching closer and lifting up his foot. I'm not quite sure how long this exchange went on; I think I must have been occupied with R somewhere. By the time I got back, D had Pia's face in his hands and he was saying it louder...as if the problem was his volume...with his foot up in the air: 'Ma-ga-gar!!'
She looked at me and apologized, "Cam, we have no idea what he's trying to say, but he's very enthusiastic about something. What is he trying to tell us?" What are you trying to say to Aunt Pia? I asked him.
'Ma-ga-gar, Mamma! Ma-ga-gar!" Oh, Madagascar...he's trying to show you his shoes. While Pia was fluent in 'toddler' from her toddler, mine was a whole different story. He was, admittedly, difficult to understand at times.
Inspired by the scene when the penguins get Alex to eat sushi. "Chew like you mean it. Savor it." Alex does as he is told then declares, "This is better than steak." "The kitty loves the fish," says the penguin. I agree. I don't eat steak often, but I could eat sushi all the time, so I decided to make maki sushi.
"What's maki sushi?" you ask. It's just a sushi roll - rolled sushi with dried nori (seaweed) on the outside and fillings on the inside. It can be filled with raw fish, cooked fish, or vegetables. I had sashimi-grade ahi tuna, halibut, avocados, roasted pepper, sesame carrots, and green onions.
Sushi Meshi (rice for sushi)
Ingredients serves 8
4 cups short grain rice (sushi rice)
4 cups water
6” dashi konbu
Also needed: paper fans, wooden spoons, and a non-aluminum pan
Awase Zu (vinegar mixture for sushi meshi)
1/3 cup Japanese vinegar (or white vinegar)
5 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
Heat ingredients until salt and sugar are dissolved. Cool.
Wash rice and soak in water 2 hours or longer. Put water and konbu (wiped with a damp cloth) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. After 3 minutes remove konbu and add drained rice. Mix well, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn heat very low and steam 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes after turning off heat.
Put rice in a large pan (not aluminum- an enameled broiler pan works well) and fold in the Awase Zu. Fan until the rice is coated and glossy. Rice is now ready to make sushi (makizushi, chirashi, nigari, or inari Zushi)
Years ago, when I co-taught a rice class, I learned that culturally the Japanese use odd numbers for sushi ingredients because of the good superstitions associated with odd numbers. In contrast, even numbers do not have good associations. “Two” means “to divide” (or “to part, separate”), “four” is associated with death, and “six” as in the phrase “rokudenashi”, means “good-for-nothing.” At wedding ceremonies, people offer gifts of 10,000 yen, 30,000 yen, and fifty thousand yen. No one gives a gift of 20,000 or 40,000 yen. Similarly, at funerals the condolence payments are all in odd numbers. This may reflect the influence of Yin-Yang thought from China, in which odd numbers are “Yang”. Hospital sickrooms and parking lots avoid the number “four” (which is homophonous with “death”).
assorted sashimi grade fish (I used ahi and halibut), thinly sliced
thinly sliced vegetables, cooked and raw (I used fresh avocado, fresh cucumbers, raw green onions, roasted red peppers, sauteed carrots)
a batch of sushi meshi
Also needed: sushi rolling mat, pickled ginger for serving, soy sauce for serving, wasabi for serving
Place a sushi rolling mat on a work surface and top with a sheet of nori. Scoop 3/4 cup rice on the sheet and press rice to the edge of the nori.
Arrange a small amount of fillings in a row about 1-1/2" from bottom edge of nori sheet. Roll up rice mixture over filling, using the bamboo mat to lift and compress the mixture while rolling until you have a uniform cylinder. Place the roll, seam-side down, onto a cutting board. With a sharp knife, slice the rolls into eight pieces.
Serve with soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger slices, if desired.
That's a wrap for my #MoviesandMunchies offering. I am not sure what we'll be watching in January. Stay tuned!