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May Dinner and a Movie: Shirley Valentine (Souvlaki and Tzatziki)

Who hasn’t ever questioned the relevance of their place in this world? Very few, I would imagine. I think you know what I mean. Maybe you’ve stood in front of your mirror one day and asked yourself, “Who the hell am I, and what am I supposed to be doing here?”. Or, perhaps you’ve reached a point in your life where you look back and wonder what happened to all of your dreams and the plans you made. Have you gotten so bogged down in the everyday minutia of your life that you lost yourself somewhere along the way? Are you merely existing instead of living? If true contentment can only come from within ourselves, why do most of us have such a hard time finding it?

I struggle with these issues myself from time to time, and I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. It’s important to stand back and take stock of yourself sometimes – to question where you’ve been and where you’re going. It helps us to grow and evolve and hopefully, to become better. One of the reasons that I chose Shirley Valentine [1] as this month’s Dinner and a Movie [2] selection, is because this award-winning British film examines these struggles in a very charming, poignant and humorous way. It struck a chord with me when I first watched it back in 1989, and is even more relevant to me today.

Shirley Valentine-Bradshaw is a fortysomething housewife from Liverpool wondering what has happened to herself, as she feels stagnant and in a rut. She has become a proverbial doormat. Her family pays her so little attention that she’s taken to talking to her kitchen walls in order to keep a conversation going. She’s always dreamed of going to Greece, and when her friend wins a trip for two to Mykonos, Shirley uncharacteristically puts herself first and accepts an invitation to go along. She packs her bags, leaves a note on the kitchen table, and takes off on her dream vacation!

Immersed in her stunningly beautiful surroundings, Shirley takes stock of her life after years of marital neglect and mundane domesticity. What she discovers there is a new awareness of who she is and what her existence can be with just a little effort on her part. (A little tryst with a hunky Greek doesn’t hurt matters either!) When her nice, but complacent husband Joe arrives on the island to bring her back to Liverpool, Shirley is forced to make the most important decision of her life.

Another reason that I chose Shirley Valentine, is because I felt that there was a lot of inspiration to be had in it when deciding on your DaaM submissions. From the humble chips and egg to a myriad of mouthwatering Greek specialties to choose from, everyone should be able to come up with a fabulous dish like this Souvlaki I made a few weeks ago.

Anyone who spends any amount of time surfing the food blogs has probably come across Peter from Kalofagas [3]. Peter is a Greek from Toronto who writes a wonderful blog devoted to Greek food and recipes. Not only is he a creative and adventurous cook, he is like a one man Greek Tourism Board! With every recipe he presents, he shares a bit of Greek history and culture as well. Whenever I visit Kalofagas I am tantalized, inspired and always impressed!

Souvlaki is a popular Greek dish consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. It may be served on the skewer for eating out of hand, in a pita sandwich with garnishes and sauces, or on a dinner plate, often with fried potatoes or rice pilaf. Pork is the traditional meat used, although it can also be made with chicken, beef or lamb. I made my Souvlaki with pork, using Peter’s recipe [4]. Let me just say, it was terrific!

To go along with the Souvlaki, I also made Peter’s Tzatziki [5], which is one of the classic sauces in Greek cuisine. It is a creamy and delicious combination of yogurt, cucumber, dill and garlic, which makes a refreshing accompaniment to grilled meats.

I hope I’ve convinced you to play along with my co-host Marc from No Recipes [6] and I this month and give Shirley Valentine a watch. It is a really lovely and sweet movie with an important message. May’s post date will be on May 20. Please visit our Dinner and a Movie page [2] for all of the details on submitting an entry for the round-up. I hope to see you all there!