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Sunday, 28 June 2009

Withnail and Chicken (I want something's flesh!)

Once upon a time, I read somewhere that there exists a drinking game whereupon the drinkers match every drink drunk during the film ‘Withnail and I’ which I (for the sake of my liver and to avoid ‘a bastard behind the eyes’) shall not partake in to create this light- hearted foodie blog post based on this cult film.

My great friend Stephen and I have recently re-discovered an enjoyment of the film script text and I thought it would be fun to consider how I could recreate the live chicken dish that the film’s duo enjoyed at the Crow’s Crag Cottage, in my own kitchen.

Firstly I did not kill a chicken but hunted the f*cker down at the local Co-op store. Then I placed it upon a brick and photographed it in the cold oven like the image in the film. This I hasten to add is not a recommended way of cooking any chicken. See picture above.

Putting together Uncle Monty’s seasoning selection of rosemary, garlic and salt I appointed the prepared chicken, less festooned with feathers than in the film, (‘shouldn’t it be more bald than that?’) and liberally dressed it in a light cooking oil as it sat naked in a proper casserole dish. Covering it in silver foil for moistness I placed it in the pre-heated oven on gas mark 6 for two hours – removing the foil after one hour. Towards the end of the cooking period I did some boiled new potatoes and green beans. Sherry anyone? Sherry?

I may not be getting them all here but there are an amazing amount of references to food, drinking and dining in the film Withnail and I and here are a few random examples from the script.

Withnail: You must. You must. That shit’ll bore through the glaze. We may never be able to use the dinner service again.


Withnail: Two large gins. Two pints of cider – ice in the cider.


Withnail: All right, this is the plan. We’ll get in there and get wrecked. Then we’ll eat a pork pie…


There is the classic scene with the woman attempting to eat a fried egg sandwich in the London Caff and running egg yolk grossly dripping out of her sandwich and another scene of Marwood eating a saveloy and chips in the bath.

Danny: You’re looking very beautiful man. St Peter preached the epistles to the apostles looking like that. Have you got any food?

Marwood: I’ve got a saveloy.

Danny: How much is it?

Marwood: You can have it for nothing.

Later, when Withnail and Marwood (I) go to Withnail’s Uncle Monty’s house Monty says:

Monty: Do you like vegetables? I’ve always been fond of root crops, but I only started to grow last summer … I happen to think the cauliflower more beautiful than the rose. Do you grow?

Withnail: Geraniums.

Monty: You little traitors. I think the carrot infinitely more fascinating than the geranium. The carrot has mystery. Flowers are essentially tarts. Prostitutes for the bees!

Once established at the Crow Crag cottage the two heroes go to a local farmer (Issac Parkin) to ask for wood and something to eat.

Withnail: Listen, we’re bone fide. We don’t come from London. Can we have some fuel and wood?

Issac Parkin: I could bring you some logs up later. I gotta feed the cows and that first.

Withnail: When?

Marwood: Shut up! That would be very nice of you. Do you think you could sell us something to eat?

Issac Parkin: I could bring you a chicken, but you’d have to go into the village really.

Marwood: That would be very nice of you…

When they eventually get the chicken they discover it to be an alive and kickin’ chicken and have to kill it, gut it and clean it up for the oven. A very funny scene that inspired this posting.

Further into the film Uncle Monty arrives unexpectedly and causes homophobic chaos as well as trying to get the young men to cook a few meals in between drinking to excess.

Monty: Rosemary, garlic and salt.

He plunges into a grocery sack. A tablecloth and napkins and a pair of aprons. Slips into one. Goes for Marwood with the other.

Monty: I brought two in case either of you was any good in the kitchen.

Marwood: I’m not.

Monty: Of course you are. Cooking’s one of the natural instincts.

Marwood: Listen Monty. This is all very kind of you, but I really think I ought to get out of here and get some work done on the car.

Monty: Nonsense, you haven’t time. We’ll be having a late luncheon at three…

One of the funniest scenes in set in gentile a tea room in Penrith where Withnail and Marwood arrive totally ‘ off their faces’ demanding tea and cake to soak up the booze they have imbibed not an hour before.

Old woman: You’re drunk!

Marwood: Just bring out the cakes.

Withnail: Cake and fine wines.

Old woman: If you don’t leave we’ll call the police!

Withnail: Balls. We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here. And we want them now.

Old woman: Miss Blenehassitt. Telephone the police.

On that note I am now going to eat my roast chicken. White wine anyone? I do keep a sensational cellar!

If you haven’t seen the film – please do. It’s hilarious and this post will make a lot more sense.

“I demand more booze!!!”


Gail's Man said...

I've got the video, but not got round to watching it yet. It's amongst about 200 that needs to be viewed.

Karen said...

A brilliant film, we've seen it lots of times. And the scene in the tea room is our favourite.
Your poor chicken looks a bit sad sat on it's brick. bet it was could have cooked it woth some sherry inside it, makes it even more juicy I've found.

Phil Lowe said...

Gail's Man: You have it on 'video'? Have you heard of those new fangled things - now what are they called? Dvd, that's it. lol

Karen: The cooking it in sherry sounds nice. Next time I'll try that.

French Fancy said...

One of my top three all time favourite films, Doncha know!

Mr FF and I are almost word perfect throughout.

Have you read Bruce Robinson's book 'Smoking in Bed' or his novel (forget what it's called even though I could walk 10 metres and have a look on the shelf - Thomas Penman or something). Both are highly recommended by me.

French Fancy said...

10 metres? Where do I live? A mansion?

Nah, a few yards away, that's all. This metric stuff always baffles me

Phil Lowe said...

French Fancy:I couldn't manage a 10 meters walk cos my thumbs have gone wierd and I feel unusual. Perhaps I have gone on holiday by mistake! I'm not from London, you know!

Seriously, no I haven't read the book you recommend. Is it good?

French Fancy said...

There are two - the 'smoking in bed' one is an interview based book with Robinson talking about the life he led, films he made etc. The novel 'Thomas Penman' is fabulous and is meant to be autobiographical. If you are a Withnail fan you would enjoy both books

French Fancy said...

French Fancy said...

other bit of url (should have done it as tiny url)


Phil Lowe said...

Thanks for the links FF

StGeorgeOfEngland said...

I have never seen this film. Know of it though.

Phil Lowe said...

Guy, you would love it. Get yourself off to your nearest dvd store and purchase a copy asap; all profits go to SW's drinking bill.

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

This chicken post so reminds me of Julia's from her archives...don't complicate the recipe...simple is best.