Kentucky Fried Chicken

LORELAI: I had the weirdest dream last night. We were in our house, but it wasn’t our house, it was a Kentucky Fried Chicken.
RORY: I’m hooked.
LORELAI: I had to get dressed, but my clothes were in the back. And the guy manning the giant oil vat would not let me though.
RORY: Oh my God! That’s so weird. When you said oil vat, that just reminded me, I had this dream last night we were swimming in a pool, only it wasn’t water, it was like oil or honey or something.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (since 1991 branded as KFC) is a fast food restaurant chain specialising in fried chicken with a secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices. It is the world’s second-largest restaurant chain after McDonald’s. It was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders in 1930, who sold his chicken from a roadside restaurant in the Great Depression, with the first franchise opening in 1952.

There are several KFC outlets in Hartford, and two in Wallingford, near where Stars Hollow seems to be located.

Dreams often link food and sex, so I wonder if Lorelai’s dream of a fast food outlet is trying to tell her that she is moving too fast with Max, and perhaps that the relationship is cheap and unsatisfying because it’s mostly based on sexual attraction?

The fact that Lorelai doesn’t seem to have any clothes on in the dream seems telling, and also that a man is stopping her from putting her clothes on (in the back of the store!) could signify that on some level she feels that the passion she has with Max is stopping her from finding a relationship that is deeper and more meaningful (with Luke).

The name of the man who is stopping Lorelai from getting her clothes turns out to be someone she once knew named Jim Dunning, which sounds rather like, “I’m done in”. In a way, her relationship with Max has already come as far as it can.

Both Lorelai and Rory dreamed of oil on the same night (Lorelai’s featured a man in charge of a vat of cooking oil, while Rory went swimming in what seemed to be oil, or perhaps honey). Both of them seem to want things to go smoothly in their lives: Lorelai dreaming of cooking oil may mean she wants a transformation in her life, while Rory is obviously exploring her emotions.

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.

Up With People

LORELAI: Okay, then just meet me in town around four, and we’ll get some Indian food, and spoil our dinner. What do you say to that?
RORY: Whatever.
LORELAI: Hey, love the enthusiasm. Hey, does Up With People know about you?

Up With People is an educational organisation founded in 1965, intended to inspire young people to make a difference. After training, each UWP group is sent on a tour of various communities to participate in service projects, learn about different cultures, and perform peppy musical stage show productions. They have been criticised for their right-wing politics and cult-like behaviour.

In a later season we learn that Lorelai actually can’t stand Indian food, although Rory loves it. It’s not clear if Lorelai offering to get Indian food is a continuity issue, or if Lorelai is making a huge concession for Rory in order to cheer her up. It’s notable that Lorelai plans to eat a second dinner though – possibly because she intends to eat as little Indian food as possible.

Balthazar’s

LANE: Then he [Henry] said, “It was fun meeting you the other night.”
RORY: What?
LANE: He didn’t say which night. Like he didn’t remember which night. Like he’s mixing me up with another girl from another night. For all I know, he thought he was calling the hot blonde he met at a hopped up night at Balthazar’s.

Balthazar is a French restaurant in SoHo, Manhattan which opened in 1997 and is owned by Keith McNally. Famed for both its food and atmosphere, it is a favourite place for celebrity-spotting. It is notable that Lane gets the name wrong, not being familiar with trendy New York eateries.

Rory points out the obvious implausibility of Henry, a sixteen-year-old private school student from Hartford, being hopped up (on drugs) at Balthazar and meeting hot blondes, but Lane is not in a logical mood.

Teriyaki Joe’s

LORELAI: I thought you were gonna go antiquing.
RORY: Yeah we did. And then we had lunch.
LORELAI: Oh, really? Where?
EMILY: Teriyaki Joe’s.

Teriyaki Joe’s is yet another of the restaurants in Stars Hollow that we never hear about again. Teriyaki is a Japanese cuisine style where meat and fish are grilled over a barbecue plate and marinated or sauteed in a sweet and spicy sauce. Originally developed in the 17th century by Japanese cooks, teriyaki cuisine became popular in the US during the 1990s.