Django Unchained photo.jpg
The Weinstein Company
Don't let the bad weather hang you up!

The Dinner: Cheese ravioli with cream Creole sauce at Marcela's Creole Cookery , 106


Marcela's Creole Cookery and Django Unchained Take Away the Rainy Day Blues

Django Unchained photo.jpg
The Weinstein Company
Don't let the bad weather hang you up!

The Dinner: Cheese ravioli with cream Creole sauce at Marcela's Creole Cookery, 106 James St.

The Movie: Django Unchained at AMC Loews Woodinville 12 (17640 Garden Way NE)

The Screenplate: As an Eastsider suffering from a winter flu, I was not feeling too adventurous when I dragged myself down to the nearest movie theater to catch up with recent Seattle Weekly cover boy Quentin Tarantino and his latest, Django Unchained. The weather was abysmal, the holiday crowds insisted I get to the theater 40 minutes early to buy tickets, and the misguided elderly couple who'd decided Tarantino was just right for their date assured me I was in for the long haul when the woman let out a scream of terror during the trailer for Pain & Gain.

I walked into Marcela's Creole Cookery for the first time similarly drenched, cranky and unadventurous. But, unlike the gloomy atmosphere of a theater, the Cookery is well lit and backdropped by a colorful mural. With my father as my holiday date, we were seated in the hallway--not uncomfortably--because the entire back of the restaurant had been reserved for a cooking class that was due to begin halfway through our meal. Although in hindsight the seating was awkward, it never felt that way. It went unnoticed perhaps because we were immediately swept up in conversation with one of the owners, Anthony McDonald, a lively, talkative, inviting character you instantly want to befriend.

In recommending appetizers, McDonald offered to make us a mushroom dish that wasn't on the menu, just because they happened to be in stock in the kitchen that day. Our server cooked them for us tableside, and they were served drenched in butter with a plate of bread to mop up the extra sauce.

While McDonald was always on hand mid-meal to explain the festive traditions behind Marcela's cooking, Django Unchained showcases a darker side of the Southern story. When we are introduced to Django (Jamie Foxx), he is a slave complete with a history of auctions, iron collars and brutal whippings that are unflinchingly shown on screen. Django, however, gets lucky and is rescued from his captors by onetime dentist Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who now works as a bounty hunter. Schultz seeks Django out because of Django's familiarity with three brothers that Schultz is hunting; Django, meanwhile, gets promised a happy return to his wife after assisting Schultz in "killing white people" through the winter. The two become fast friends during a montage featuring bounty hunting in the snow. Meanwhile, the elderly couple beside me misidentified a rabbit as a squirrel and proceeded to argue about its taxonomic order. A stickler for complete silence during movies, my mood turned even sourer as their conversation grew more continual.

At Marcela's, though, things just got better and better. Even when the chef dropped my father's plate of red fish, McDonald came to our table to personally apologize and point out the fish on the kitchen floor. Caught up in the inescapable good mood, we didn't even notice the extra wait--and even if we had, the entrees made it worthwhile. I can say with certainty that you haven't had cheese ravioli until you've had it with cream Creole sauce--surprisingly spicy, it adds an unexpected bite that brings an entirely new character to a usually predictable dish.

Django eventually took a turn for the better, too. My incessant glaring finally got the couple beside me to quiet down enough to hear some of Tarantino's signature dialogue, and once the plot had beaten around the bush long enough to figure itself out, it took off in full force. Here enters Leonardo DiCaprio's Calvin Candie of the plantation Candieland, owner of Django's wife. Like the Creole sauce on the ravioli, usually predictable predicaments and characters defy expectations, and Samuel L. Jackson's house slave Stephen becomes the quiet villain when dinner is served.

Halfway through our dinner, however, we were still making friends. McDonald poured champagne for everyone in the restaurant--and virgin drinks for those underage--to allow all of Marcela's clientele to partake in a birthday toast to three separate customers. The entire restaurant belted "happy birthday" as if these strangers were our closest friends.

In Django, too, things get more and more ludicrous. But it's Tarantino, after all, and you can't help but go along with it with a grin. While Marcela's Cookery is wasted if you don't take your friends, family, and everyone you know, Django Unchained is best left for those who know what they're going to be stomaching. The elderly couple beside me left looking green--the group of teenage boys on my other side, however, declared it "genius."

My own consensus is this: Don't venture too far from home for Django, but if you want soul food, comfort, and the instant coziness of true, warm Southern hospitality, Marcela's Creole Cookery warrants the trek. Even a crummy winter cold can't bring it down.

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