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Jul 1, 2010 05:53 AM

the food of "I Am Love," especially the "insalata russa"

Surprised not to see postings here on Chowhound about the new Tilda Swinton movie "I Am Love" (maybe it's just a search engine problem?). The food is mouth-wateringly luxurious (as are the clothes, the home furnishings, the humans-- everything in the film, really).

The film pays special attention to a Russian soup called "ukha"-- the New York Times followed its lead by featuring it in its review and the accompanying slide show:

But the dish I'm particularly interested in is the one Antonio (the film's young chef) is preparing when he first meets Emma (Swinton). It's referred to as an "insalata russa." (Why all the Russian dishes? Emma is Russian by birth.)

The traditional Italian insalata russa is a conventional mayonnais-ey salad whose other ingredients depend on the season. The film's version, however, is more of a canape. Seen only briefly, it's a simple, drier salad or slaw wrapped in a light pasta wrapper. The finished product is a small (2 or 3 inch diameter, 1/2 inch thin) disc-- kind of a mini-hockey puck dumpling. In finishing it, Antonio blowtorched the wrapper to crisp it on one side, then flipped it over, folded the wrapper closed on the other side and blowtorched it closed. The most distinctive thing about it, when eaten, was its crunch.

I suspect that we'll never see the recipe for this dish unless the movie's food consultant, Italian chef Carlo Cracco (, whose restaurant Cracco features a starter called "insalata russa caramellata" (caramelized)) decides to write a cookbook (which, of course, is entirely within the realm of possibility). But while I'm waiting for that to happen, did anyone get a good enough look at the dish to better describe ingredients or preparation?

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  1. Didn't see this first time around, but a chowhound review of Cracco has it that the wrapper is sugar (?!):
    <<Two crunchy disks of caramelized sugar infused with a powder made of dried capers and Maldon salt add pizzazz to an otherwise almost too rich and creamy combination in the center. The flavors were familiar, but their delivery was unexpected and fun.>>
    Hmm. In the film, it really looked like Antonio was blowtorching a flat, wonton-like wrapper. Such a wrapper made of sugar? Anyone?