It’s that time again. What time is that, you ask? Time for another cosplayer in my kitchen!
For today’s post, I am joined by writer, cosplayer, social media marketer, and long time friend of mine Laura J. Vaughn. Ever since I met Laura while working at Netherworld in 2008, she’s never failed to blow me away with her fantastic costumes such as her gun-arm-toting steampunk lass and her steampunk version of Princess Leia. More recently, though, you might recognize her for her fall-to-your-knees-and-witness take on Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road.
As you may suspect, that picture is not ‘shopped beyond simple filters. That is Laura’s actual arm. The screen accurate prosthetic arm was designed and built by Atlanta-based designer Michelle Sleeper. Cosplay accuracy, though how eerily close it is to the original, is not why I asked Laura to join me for today’s post. I chose her for her beautifully written tumblr post on Furiosa and what she stands for, as well as Laura’s intense personal connection/ with the biggest badass in post-apocalyptic cinema.
Fury Road presents a world of gross imbalance where life is restrained and controlled for the fear of it mutating and dying. The villain, Immortan Joe, brainwashes the people around him into a cult worshipping fire, destruction, metal, and death with the understanding that the same hand who gives nourishment can also take it away. The desert wasteland culture depends on the same ideas that “killed the world” – the idea that resources are finite and must be hoarded away, bought with blood, and then defended with an iron grip.
This attitude towards resources extends to everything considered fertile or life sustaining — even human beings. Women are literally used as cattle, their bodies used and owned for milk and babies. Joe’s wives’ are locked into metal chastity belts. Any man free of mutation or disease is tattooed like a prescription bottle, caged, and used as a self-replenishing blood bag.
Everyone else either wastes away outside Joe’s compound waiting for the promise of water, or drives and fights as a War Boys – flailing their short existence through the dust in the hopes that Joe will “witness” them as human beings worthy enough for a place next to him. Furiosa and Joe’s wives, however, have a very different idea as they escape on a trade run in search of the “green place” — Furiosa’s childhood home.
The next few paragraphs are spoilers if you haven’t seen Fury Road, by the way.
They find the Vuvalini, Furiosa’s mother’s tribe, but nothing resembling her home. They learn from them that the green place has since become poisoned by the harsh environment, dwindling to nothing more than a toxic and barren swamp. This, in a sense, symbolizes the futility of regressing, reminiscing and trying to change one’s past –as Furiosa says she seeks to bring the wives to the green place as redemption. Max reminds her of this wish when they seek to go further into the salt flats, that they only run away from the future they can still save even though it may seem more difficult to obtain. It is one thing to survive; it is another to cultivate and grow.
We see an example of this lesson in the Seed Mother. This member of the Vuvalini keeps a bag of seeds and seedlings in an attempt to regrow plants wherever they go, but they never stay in one place to see them take root. The only hope to preserve life is to cultivate it rather than constricting or hoarding it. It is symbolic when Furiosa and the wives overtake Joe’s citadel that the nursing mothers release the water valves to the people — that they are the mothers who will raise the people and the land they stand upon.
**Spoiler section ended**
So where am I going with this in terms of food? I wanted to create a dish based off what Furiosa and the wives might make after they have cultivated Joe’s compound into a new green place.
We see hydroponic lettuces and sprouts in the film, so I decided we should make a salad. We ended up using bibb lettuce, and then adding a nest of clover and alfalfa sprouts on top.
I had to do a bit of research into various ingredients found indigenous to Australia and its desert since that’s where all the of the Mad Max films have taken place. I turned up with eggs, desert limes, and quandongs.
Quan-whats? You’re probably thinking. Quandongs are desert fruit reported to taste like a mix of apricot, peach, and rhubarb. With this in mind, we made up a dressing using the two latter fruits, lime juice, ginger, and sesame oil. We also tossed in some diced peach and sliced macadamia nuts (which is also Australian) among the greens.
Since life and fertility is a very prominent theme, I also poached eggs in whole milk and nestled them among the sprouts. Though hard to see through, milk is actually a lot easier to poach eggs in than water as it acts as a natural coagulant. The results also taste wonderfully creamy.
You will want to poach them one at a time using the vortex method which I will describe in the recipe below. However, Bon Appetit’s test kitchen did a great tutorial video if you want to see the process first. I leave it up to you to decide if you want to perform the traditional method that I did for this post or the Australian method which will require more milk.
So here it is, a salad to remind you of how far you’ve come when you find your own green place.
The Green Place Salad
Equipment: blender or immersion blender, stovetop, saucepan, wire whisk, slotted spoon.
- 2 heads bibb lettuce
- 1 cup clover sprouts
- 1 1/2 cups alfalfa sprouts
- 2 peaches
- 1 rhubarb stalk, sliced
- 1/4-1/2 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 4 eggs
- 1/8 cup sliced macadamia nuts
- 1/8 cup crushed almonds
- Rip the lettuce into bite sized pieces and distribute among four plates. Mix the sprouts together in a small bowl and divide into 4 portions. Form a nest about 3.5-4 inches in diameter with each portion and place one on top of each bed of greens.
- Halve and remove the pits and skins from the peaches. Dice one and distribute the pieces on each bed of greens, slice the other and put the pieces into the blender or your immersion blender container.
- Bring the saucepan with water and rhubarb to a simmer and let cook about 5 minutes. Drain the water and add the rhubarb to the blender. Pour in the honey, salt, ginger, and lime juice, and blend until smooth. Turn on the blender and gradually pour in the sesame oil. When fully incorporated and thickened, turn off the blender and set the dressing aside.
- Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan on the stove top. Crack an egg into a small bowl. Whisk the milk into a vortex and slide the egg into it. Continue stirring the milk around the egg using a regular spoon until. When the edges have set, continue to stir and baste the egg with milk intermittently. After cooking 3 – 5 minutes total (to your preference), remove the egg with a slotted spoon and set it inside the nest of sprouts. Repeat this process with the other three eggs.
- Drizzle dressing and poaching liquid on each salad using a spoon. Distribute the macadamia nuts and almonds between the plates and serve.