Strudel

EMILY: So do you get your lunch at school or do you bring it with you? Because Rosa made a fabulous leg of lamb yesterday. I bet it’d make a wonderful sandwich.
RICHARD: Take her up on that. It is good. And demand a slice of strudel.

Strudel is a dish made from layers of thin pastry with a filling, usually (but not always) sweet. It became popular in the 18th century throughout the Hapsburg Empire, so is a dish originating in Austria, but also common throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

Strudel pastry was heavily influenced by the filo pastry used in Turkish cuisine, such as baklava. It is very fine and elastic, and is supposed to be rolled so thin that you can read a newspaper through it.

The best known strudel is apple strudel, and the second best known is a strudel filled with a sweet soft cheese filling. However, almost any kind of fruit can be used, and so can jam, nuts, vegetables such as spinach, and meat fillings.

That Rosa makes both blintzes and strudel suggests she may be from somewhere in Eastern Europe, perhaps Hungary or the former Czechoslovakia. There is a chance that Rosa is meant to be an East European Jew, perhaps (for example) a Czech who was rescued as a child and sent to Allied countries during World War II. If so, she would be quite mature-aged, and probably older than Richard and Emily.

Blintzes

EMILY: Now, we have eggs, fruit, toast, pancakes, blintzes.

Blintzes are a variant of the Russian pancakes called blini – they are thin wheat pancakes folded over to form a casing for a filling (such as fruit, jam, chocolate paste, or cheese), and then sauteed or baked. The word blintz is Yiddish, possibly derived from Ukrainian.

Blinis are a traditional food in Slavic countries. In pre-Christian times, they were served at the end of winter to celebrate the rebirth of the sun (I guess because they are round and yellow-ish, like the sun). This tradition continues in the Orthodox church, as the timing fits in with the start of Lent, when people are encouraged to eat up all their butter, eggs, and milk – foods forbidden during the Orthodox Lenten season.

Blintzes were introduced to North America by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. They are traditionally served on holidays such as Hanukkah and Shavuot (a spring festival).

As blinis and blintzes are traditionally eaten in spring in Paganism, Christianity, and Judaism, it makes sense that they feature in an episode set in April.

Lorelai and Max

Max asks Lorelai why she didn’t tell Rory that the two of them were back together – again, pretty presumptuous, as all they have done so far is talk on the phone. Lorelai says she didn’t want to upset Rory when she was grieving her break up with Dean, but she could have easily said she didn’t want to make Rory think they were back together before making sure of that herself. This makes more sense to me.

Max then demands to know why Lorelai hasn’t told friends such as Sookie yet, and she says it just never came up. Max thinks this is weak, since it seemed to come up naturally for him, and he’s already told a few people. (Mind you, if Sookie hasn’t been told about Max, surely seeing he and Lorelai together in this episode would be something of a heads up – she certainly doesn’t seem surprised by it).

The scene is meant to be one where Lorelai realises how she can’t commit, but it seems perfectly normal for them to keep their reunion private a while longer. They still haven’t been on one date together (!), Lorelai has a child going through a difficult time, and the headmaster at Chilton wasn’t exactly thrilled that Max and Lorelai were a couple anyway. It really seems more sensible for him to be more discreet, rather than for her to be more open.

The Amityville Horror

MAX: She’s safe.
LORELAI: She’s with my mother. No one is safe with my mother.
MAX: She needed some space.
LORELAI: No, that house is not safe. It’s like The Amityville Horror without all the good times.

The Amityville Horror is a 1979 horror film directed by Stuart Rosenberg, and based on the sensational book of the same name by Jay Anson. The book purported to be a true story about a demon-possessed house in Amityville on Long Island, New York, but investigation proved that the book was a hoax cooked up to make money (at which it succeeded spectacularly).

The Amityville Horror was a massive box office success, and the #2 film of 1979; it is one of the highest-grossing independent films of all time. Despite getting mostly negative reviews, it has had a number of sequels and remakes, and is regarded as a horror classic.

“Is Lane there?”

LORELAI (on phone): Mrs. Kim? It’s Lorelai. Is Lane there? Well, do you know where she is? Huh. That’s unbelievable, you always know where she is.

Neither Lorelai nor Mrs. Kim knows where Lane is, but the viewer can hazard a pretty good guess that she is studying with Dean for their science project, either at school or at Dean’s house. Lane told Rory that she and Dean had to get the project finished by Monday, and they didn’t do very well at Lane’s as her mother made things difficult, and then Rory wandered in unannounced. It makes sense that they would have picked somewhere else to study together.

“Turban and a little booth”

RICHARD: The girl [Rory] obviously needs some peace.
EMILY: How do you know that?
RICHARD: I can tell.
EMILY: Oh, you’re a mind reader now, how nice. We’ll get you a turban and a little booth by the train station.

Emily may be referring to coin-operated fortune telling machines, which display an animatronic figure in a glass booth which dispenses fortunes, either on a little card, or in a recorded voice. Her description of a turbaned figure sounds rather like the Zoltar fortune teller which appears in the 1988 film Big, starring Tom Hanks. Although created for the film (and based on the real-life Zoltan fortune telling machines), since then there have been Zoltar machines made to resemble the one in the movie.

Fortune teller machines are usually in amusement arcades or at fairgrounds, but in times past there were sometimes machines designed to tell your fortune at railway stations (often combined with weighing you at the same time). No doubt the idea was that people hanging around waiting for trains had time to kill, and spare change. These kind of fortune teller machines are still widely available at train stations throughout Asia.

Rory Runs Away

After her fight with Lorelai, Rory takes off and catches a taxi to her grandparents’ house in Hartford. This will set up a pattern whereby any time Rory fights with her mother, disagrees with her, or doesn’t trust her to handle a situation correctly, she will turn to her grandparents for help and even sanctuary. This will one day cause a serious rift between mother and daughter.

Berringiny Pansy

RICHARD: Saving the Berringiny Pansy. Who ever heard of such a thing?
EMILY: It’s a very rare flower that is rapidly disappearing from the face of this earth.
RICHARD: Well, who cares?
EMILY: As president of the Horticultural Society, I have to care.

A fictional species of flower. There are a few species of pansy in Europe which are rare or even endangered though.

The name of the pansy flower comes from the French for “thought” (pensée), to symbolise remembrance, especially of a loved one. Another name for the pansy is love-in-idleness, meaning someone who has nothing to do but think of their beloved. This seems apt, as Rory has been trapped by her thoughts and memories of Dean, with not enough to occupy her lately. Yet another name for the flower is heartsease, telling us that Rory will soon unburden her heart, and have her feelings soothed.

The Connecticut Horticultural Society has existed since 1887, and in real life does have speakers on one Thursday a month, just like in this episode (it now seems to be Thursday 19 April). They take place at the Emanuel Auditorium in West Hartford, and start at 7.30 pm – although you’re encouraged to come early so you can socialise. This suggests the time when Rory comes to her grandparents’ house is somewhere 6.30 and 7 pm.

Silly String

(Lorelai walks in the front door carrying shopping bags.)
LORELAI: Rory, I’m back for round two [of their fight]. I got some Silly String in case things get really ugly.

Silly String is a toy consisting of flexible plastic string propelled as liquid from an aerosol can. It was first invented in 1972. Silly String fights are common among children.

Rory’s Fight With Lorelai

Rory, fresh from an unresolved argument with Lane over not telling her that her science partner was Dean, now confronts her mother about getting back with Max without telling her. Lorelai says she was just trying to protect her feelings after her break up with Dean, but Rory does not press her on why she felt the need to share Rory’s private life with her on-again off-again boyfriend.

Instead Rory decides to attack her mother for her lack of commitment and constant breaking up with boyfriends after just a couple of months. It seems out of the blue, but in fact Rory must be very angry with her mother for setting her such a poor example when it comes to maintaining relationships. On some level, she must be angry that she couldn’t say “I love you” to Dean, and at least partly blames her mother for that.