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.

“All this is yours”

LORELAI (to Luke): Yeah. Wow, it [the diner’s store room] really looks, um, different from back here, ya know? All this is yours, as far as the eye can see.

Possibly a reference to the 1975 British comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, written, performed, and directed by the Monty Python comedy team. The film is a parody of the legend of King Arthur and the search for the Holy Grail.

In one scene, a medieval king with a thick northern accent is speaking to his milksop son Prince Herbert, and says, “One day lad, all this will be yours … all that you can see, stretched out over the hills and valleys … as far as the eye can see and beyond … that’ll be your kingdom, lad”.

It is highly reminiscent of Genesis 13:14-15 in the Bible, where God gives Abraham the land of Canaan. God says,“Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your descendants forever.” (Which doesn’t actually seem like that much land, as you can only see a few miles to the horizon in each direction).

This is another possibility for what Lorelai is thinking of, and in both cases, it is a father (or our Father in Heaven) passing an inheritance on to his son, just as Luke’s father left him the hardware store. She is being humorous, but seems genuinely impressed by Luke’s little “kingdom”.

We later learn that The Holy Grail is one of Lorelai and Rory’s favourite films.

Rory Shows Emily the Potting Shed

(Rory opens the door and walks in. Emily looks in from the doorway.)
RORY: I know it’s looks small, but it’s really pretty. Come on. See, we had our bed right over there, and Mom put up this really pretty curtain around the tub so that it looked like a real bathroom. And we would just sit outside at night when the Inn would have parties, and we’d just listen to music and feed the ducks and . . . (Emily walks away) Grandma? Grandma wait, what’s the matter?

This is the potting shed next to the duck pond at the Independence Inn that Lorelai and Rory lived in when they first moved to Stars Hollow, as they had no money for accommodation (like the Holy Family, there was “no room at the inn”, and they were put in an outbuilding, so Baby Rory was just like Baby Jesus).

The shed is sturdy but rustic, and is stocked with gardening tools and plants, like any potting shed: it isn’t clear if those things were there while Lorelai and Rory lived there. Their bed is no longer there (they must have shared a single bed together), but the bath has been left, including the curtain that Lorelai put around it to serve as a bathroom wall. Lorelai mentioned that it has rosebud wallpaper, but the is shed painted white inside and doesn’t look as though it’s got the kind of walls that you could easily wallpaper.

It looks impractical for bringing up a baby, and we learn later that they moved to Stars Hollow in the autumn, so it would have been very cold as well (we don’t know what they used for heating). We don’t know how long they lived in this temporary accomodation, but long enough for Rory, who was only a baby when they came to Stars Hollow, to have some memories of it, and long enough that the weather became warm enough for them to sit outside at night. I would guess at least a year, and possibly two. Who looked after baby Rory while Lorelai was working is unknown.

This is the first time that Emily has ever seen the potting shed, and she is clearly distraught to discover the conditions her daughter and granddaughter lived in. Lorelai told Sookie that her parents visited them a few times at the inn while Rory was a baby, but they never saw where they slept at night. Lorelai was probably clever at keeping them away from the shed, but their lack of curiosity is surprising. Perhaps they were scared to push it in case Lorelai ran even further away.

In this case, it is Emily who runs away, too upset to spend any more with time with Rory or even say a proper goodbye to her. This incident serves as a device to keep Emily at a distance from Stars Hollow. Emily was having a good time with Rory, and was fitting in well with the townspeople, finding that she had things in common with Mrs. Kim and Michel. By showing her in the potting shed, it explains why Emily doesn’t visit Stars Hollow more often in the future.

Where they lived between the potting shed when Rory was a baby/toddler, and moving into their own house when Rory was eleven, is a complete mystery and never mentioned. Perhaps Lorelai saved up enough money to rent a cheap apartment for them, but renting would make it hard to save for a house. They could have lived in a friend’s house (with Sookie?), but if so, nobody ever refers to it.

In real life, it wouldn’t be legal for anyone to live in the potting shed under Connecticut zoning laws, but I’m not sure that would stop Lorelai anyway – rules were made for non-Gilmores!

“I take thee, Jesus”

LANE: So he doesn’t like me, he’s not gonna call. It’s not the end of the world. I’ll live. I’ll go on. There’s always college. Unless my parents get their way, and then it’s “I take thee Jesus to be my lawful wedded husband.”

Lane is suggesting that her parents want her to “marry” Jesus, or devote herself entirely to her religion. Catholic nuns are called “brides of Christ” for the same reason, but despite Mrs. Kim wanting Lane to (rather implausibly) attend a convent, there is no equivalent in the Seventh Day Adventist religion. Adventists don’t promote celibacy, even for people in pastoral roles in the church, so this doesn’t really make sense.

Whore of Babylon

EMILY: I don’t care if she [Trix] demeans me and looks down on me. I don’t care if she thinks I’ve tarnished the Gilmore name. I don’t care if she thinks I’m the Whore of Babylon.

The Whore of Babylon is is a mythological female figure mentioned in the book of Revelations in the Bible. Her full name is given as Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. This is handily written on her forehead, presumably in fairly small writing so it can all fit.

This “great whore” is described as lavishly dressed, drinking the blood of saints and martyrs in a jewelled cup, and sitting on a scarlet beast of blasphemy, with seven heads and ten horns. Revelations explains that the seven heads mean seven mountains and seven kings, while the ten horns are ten further kings who will receive power for a short time, while the woman stands for a great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.

The Great Beast is regarded as the Antichrist, and the Whore of Babylon is usually taken by biblical scholars to mean Rome, or the Roman Empire, with the seven mountains the seven hills of Rome. Many modern scholars point out that the Great Whore is more likely to be Jerusalem, which also sits on seven hills. The seventeen kings are quite unidentifiable in either case.

Although Emily takes the Whore of Babylon to be a sexual figure, which is the way most people probably understand it, the frank sensuality of the image is symbolic of blasphemy and pagan idolatry – the Bible often talks about “whoring after idols” when it means that people are chasing after false gods. (In other words, they are being unfaithful to God and their religion, like a bride cheating on her husband).