The Gilmore girls always have cherry pie for dessert on Wednesday nights, which Luke knows by heart by now. He seems to forget in this episode, either to tease them, or because having to do an emergency shop because Jess forgot to do the ordering has put it out of his mind. Whipped cream is apparently their preferred topping.
JOE: So, at the risk of seeming like Joe the drunken chef, I added some more port to the Cumberland sauce.
Cumberland sauce, a savoury sauce of English origin, made with redcurrant jelly, mustard, pepper and salt, blanched orange peel, and port wine. It is thought to be of 19th-century origin. It may be named after a Duke of Cumberland, or have originated in Cumberland county. It is generally used as a sauce for cold meats, and for game. Sookie is pairing it with pheasant.
The amount of port varies from recipe to recipe. Some cooks add only a few tablespoons of port, while a third or a half of a cup is quite usual. Some use as much as a full cup. Joe seems to be at the upper end of the port threshold, and Sookie further down.
JOE: I can’t tell you how many times I kicked myself for not asking you out that summer. It just seemed like every time I got close, we’d end up talking about the best way to make calves liver or something. SOOKIE: Sautéed with caramelized onions.
Liver and onion is a classic dish, widely eaten in the US, UK, and Germany, often accompanied by bacon. It is sometimes called Liver Berlin Style. There are variations on the dish in French, Italian, Spanish and Latin American cuisine.
LORELAI: We are so in luck. It was international grab bag night at Al’s. RORY: Cool. Did you peek? LORELAI: And ruin the whole point of the mystery dinner? I think not. Pick.
Another quirky offering from Al’s Pancake World – on certain nights, how often is a mystery, Al offers an international grab bag, where you apparently receive a randomly assigned dinner from any national cuisine.
Who would be interested in this? Certainly not fussy eaters or people with food allergies, at least. To add to the chaos, diners apparently don’t know when it will be international grab bag night, as Lorelai proclaims that they are “in luck” that they happened to be buying dinner on that night.
Lorelai and Rory love this insane tradition because it is a game as well as food. They each pick one of the bags without looking, smell it, then try to guess what it is. Rory guesses hers is Moroccan, which is what she always says, on the basis that if you say the same thing every time, it will eventually be correct. Lorelai takes a cover-all-bases approach by declaring hers is Pan-Asian, with a hint of English Colonial and touches of South African.
Rory strongly implies that the food is old, suggesting that “grab bag night” might be a way of selling off out of date leftovers. It’s quite stomach-churning.
In the end, neither Gilmore girl can identify what food they have bought, and they end up going to Luke’s for dinner. What a waste of time, money, and food!
MICHEL: Fill me in, please. LORELAI: Jackson brought pea tendrils instead of Brussels sprouts.
Pea tendrils, also known as pea shoots, are the young leaves, flowers, stems, and vines of a pea plant. Pea tendrils are harvested before the pea pods are matured, and are therefore available in the spring and early summer. They have a similar flavour to peas.
Sookie complains that the pea tendrils are too delicate to eat with lamb shanks, and she is correct. They are more often eaten raw in salads, or lightly stir-fried and added to rice or pasta dishes.
TRIX: Now, please take this to your chef. These are the times I would like each course to appear at this table. [Emily rolls her eyes, Lorelai looks at her] I like a brisk pace, twelve minutes per course is best for my digestion. However, please tell your servers that they are not to clear until everyone has finished. Thank you.
Sookie has made twelve courses, so even at a “brisk pace” of twelve minutes per course, the dinner would last more than two hours. Emily makes it last even longer.
CLARA: I want a pretzel and a snowcone and a cheese stick. . .
Pretzel, a type of baked bread made from dough that is commonly shaped into aknot. The traditional pretzel shape is a distinctive symmetrical form, with the ends of a long strip of dough intertwined and then twisted back onto itself in a particular way (a pretzel loop or pretzel bow). They may be either soft or hard-baked.
They have been eaten since the Middle Ages, have been an emblem of baker’s guilds, and are a traditional food for Lent, since they are made with only flour and water. They are particularly associated with Germany and German culture, and immigrants introduced pretzels to the US in the 18th century. Pennsylvania is often considered the pretzel heartland of the US, and soft pretzels are the most common and popular.
FRANCIE: Hey, no one is denying Gidget a chance to snag Moondoggie for the clambake, but the rest of us have things to accomplish.
A reference to the film Gidget, previously discussed. In the film, Moondoggie (played by James Darren) was Gidget’s love interest and eventual boyfriend. They didn’t really attend a clambake, but a luau. Presumably Francie thinks a clambake is the closest thing to a luau in New England.
KIRK: Today we have … various marzipan fruits made by a sect of cloistered nuns in Toledo.
Toledo is a city of around 80 000 people in central Spain on the Tagus River, known as the “City of Three Cultures”, for the influences of Christians, Jews and Muslims on its history. There are several convents of cloistered nuns in the city, and many of them do indeed specialise in making sweets such as marzipan.