Dancing with Food and Juggling the Myths

Monday Morning Musings:


“It has been said that the myth is a public dream, dreams are private myths. Unfortunately we give our mythic side scant attention these days. As a result, a great deal escapes us and we no longer understand our own actions. So it remains important and salutary to speak not only of the rational and easily understood, but also of enigmatic things: the irrational and the ambiguous. To speak both privately and publicly.”

–Mary Zimmermann, Metamorphoses

In October, my husband and I saw Metamorphoses, Mary Zimmermann’s play, based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. We were immersed in ancient Greek myths, which still have such relevance today. It seems we tell and retell stories, hoping that somehow we will learn. Sometimes there are happy endings, but often there are not.

Over the weekend, we watched the final Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay, Part 2, which we missed when it was in theaters. Suzanne Collins, who wrote The Hunger Games trilogy, originally came up with the idea of her book from the story of the Minotaur. In the legend, King Minos of Crete required Athens to send as tribute seven young men and seven young women to Crete to be devoured by the ferocious Minotaur, a half man, half bull, who lived in a maze called the Labyrinth. This maze was designed by that champion-designer, Daedalus. (Daedulus was locked up in tower so that he could not share his knowledge of the labyrinth’s layout. To escape, he fashioned wings coated in wax so that he and his son Icarus could fly and escape. Icarus flew too high, and the hot sun melted his wings, causing him to fall into the sea and drown.) When the third sacrifice time approached, Theseus volunteered to go to slay the beast. Mino’s daughter, Ariadne, fell in love with Theseus, and in most versions of the story, she gave him a ball of thread. With that thread he was able to retrace his steps and find the way out of the labyrinth. (Play away with all the symbolism here, all the threads, so to speak. Also, apparently, the Minotaur was the child of Mino’s wife and a bull, so he was Ariadne’s half brother. Lots of subtext here.)

Collins also took aspects of the Roman coliseums and games, present day reality TV shows, and the war in Iraq to come up with her YA novels that involve a society sometime in the future in which every year young men and women from each of twelve poor districts of Panem (roughly what is now the US) are chosen by lottery to compete in the Hunger Games. They compete in lavish, televised games for the amusement of the wealthy, capital until only one tribute remains alive. My younger daughter and I have read the three books, and had seen all the movies, except for this final one. My husband has seen the movies, and my son-in-law has seen some of the movies. In truth, Mockingjay, Part 2, was not a great movie, but it was enjoyable, and it was a perfect excuse to get together. Jennifer Lawrence embodies Katniss Everdeen, brave, fierce, and stubborn. Donald Sutherland is perfect as evil President Snow. (Here is the New York Times’s review of the movie.)

So if my daughter and her husband were going to come over to watch the movie, then we have to have food, right?  So it went something like this.

What a wonderful idea, we thought,

a Hunger Games party to view the final movie.

We’ll cook together, and sip wine.

E-mails flew back and forth–

“I think I need to make pita bread,” I said,

(One of the characters is named Peeta.)

“And should we have something flaming?”

“Oh yesss!!!” she said.

“I’m excited now—and ready for this week to be over.”

“I’m excited, too!” I replied.

She decided to make hot wings “for the men.”

We discussed timing, and who should make what.

“I have two ovens, we should be able to work things, out.

Besides, we’re both good at improvising.”

And so we did.

Dancing in the kitchen to Zumba music,

while cooking and sipping wine,

our husbands worked on math in the dining room. We are nerds. Truth.

One cat oversaw the kitchen work, while the other one slept upstairs.

We decided on one large goat cheese-apple tart because I have a tart pan that needed to be used.


Baked brie with blackberries marinated in wine.


Prepared while the men’s wings cooked in one oven.

I made the pita bread and the roasted red pepper dip in advance.

So mother-daughter team made enough food for forty rather than four—



you’ll understand if you know us.

But we enjoyed every bite.

After the movie, we made a flambé, a tribute to “the girl who was on fire”: bananas cooked in brown sugar, butter, and flamed with rum. Soundtrack: “Fireball.”


We served it over homemade pineapple curd and vanilla ice cream, and sat at the kitchen table and talked of the past, present, and future. Mother and daughter danced in our seats to “Fireball.” This is how family myths are created—epic stories to retell of love and food shared. We love each other. Real or not real? Real.


Roasted Red Pepper/Walnut Dip

Goat Cheese and Apple Tarts

Pita Bread

Caribbean Bananas Flambé with Pineapple Curd









25 thoughts on “Dancing with Food and Juggling the Myths

  1. Wow! That food looks very enticing. Sounds like you had such a festive evening. Thanks or the explanation of the Greek myth. I try to absorb the Greek myths but other than the ones I learned about at school, I can’t seem to take it all in.
    I am hoping my A-Z load eases off a bit.Although I’ve written a draft for most of the letters, I’m now immersing myself in each one and it’s like diving into a warm pool. Absolutely fascinating but emotionally quite intense. POets don’t seem to have good luck, even when they’re somewhat balanced psychologically. Tomorrow’s D being another case in point.
    Hope you have a good week. My kids are on school holidays starting end o this week so I’m needing to write like mad and hope or the best.
    xx Rowena

    • Thanks, Rowena. It was quite a fun night! I admit having to look up some of the mythology. 🙂

      Good luck with your A-Z challenge! I have a huge test assignment due this week, and I’m way behind on the two books I’m working on. . .always something, right?

      Weren’t your kids just on holidays? 🙂

  2. EPIC! In every sense of the word: taste sight smell feel etc etc etc while dancing to all the elements and creating; and thank you for the precis on Metamorphoses and the myths and legends … all very metaphorical and rich. Food for the soul, in every which way Merril thank you!

    May I please use Mary Zimmerman’s quote from Metamorphoses? I can say that I swiped it off your post? I’m doing the A-Z and am now on N .. sort of done ‘M’ – on the moon and metamorphoses and myth – would LOVE to headline it with Mary Zimmerman’s quote … pretty please?

    Also, it’s interesting to me that myth and legend are being seen for their value they have in our contemporary lives and being expressed in eg movies, plays, poetry, art – something eternal about the dynamics.

    I’ve never seen or read The Hunger Games. I believe it’s gripping … the history behind it’s genesis is most interesting …. I’m familiar with many myths and they’re always refreshing and intriguing and push me on to find my own myth –

    Thank you for this lovely post Merril – I’ll be reading it again and salivating inter alia…

    • Oh my goodness, Susan. Your comment is EPIC, as well. Thank you so much for your effusive praise!

      The Mary Zimmermann quote is not mine, it’s hers, so use away, as long as you credit her. (We really enjoyed the production of this play that we last October. You might enjoy reading it.)
      The Hunger Games books are quite good; the movies not as good–but still fun.

  3. So much in this post, I’ll just comment on the parts that chime/rhyme the sleepover our grand boys had with us this weekend. Curtis and Ian would do well to listen to their grandparents (Daedalus-Daedali) so they don’t catapult into danger.

    Our menu and TV viewing was far different from yours: Pizza and spaghetti & seeing “Living on a Dollar a Day,” a Netflix documentary about 4 twenty-year-olds that went to Guatemala and experienced living on a dollar a day each. After the struggles, good things happen just like when families join together in meaningful ways, like yours.

    Again, blog extraordinaire!

  4. I enjoyed The Hunger Games books, and the movies have been entertaining. I haven’t seen the last one yet, but it’s near the top of my Netflix (DVD) list so maybe this weekend. Your creativity with the food for movie watching is wonderful. I think I’d like to have movie night at your house. 😀

    I love myths and stories and fairy tales. I did not know the background on how Suzanne Collins came up with her Hunger Games stories. Knowing that adds to it, I think.

    • Thanks, Robin! I think you’ve mentioned some splendid feasts yourself. 🙂

      I didn’t realize how much Suzanne Collins was influenced by ancient Greek/Roman myths until I read the article.

  5. You made great memories with your family, Merril. Always love that. The Hunger Games is on my reading list – important since one of the characters in my WIP is a fan. I have to find out what she sees in them.

    My book club members take off on any food reference in the books we read to plan the evening food. My challenge was food from the Congo when we read “The Poisonwood Bible.” Thank goodness a Google search turned up recipes.

  6. Yum…you all can come over and watch movies at my house any day, provided we can make treats 😉 When my kids were growing up we had movie night and I would make pizzas that they would add all the trimmings to. Fun days gone by. I wish I lived closer to my oldest son. I miss him so much and they are expecting a baby in August.

    • Well, if we ever make it to your area, we’ll watch movies and make treats. 🙂 It’s hard to be away from your kids. Our older daughter and her wife live in Boston. (Of course, they’re getting snow, so I’m kind of glad I’m not there.) 🙂

  7. This is wonderful, Merril! What an ambitious menu. You have me drooling. Homemade pizza and a video with the grands ( 8 boys & 1baby girl) usually does it for us.

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