A universally relatable tale it is not, but anyone who has lived in a big city far from home may find Leap Year, Michael Rowe’s intimate portrait of a Mexico City young woman who develops an unhealthily motivated S&M relationship, to feel surprisingly familiar. I may not have asked a guy to murder me while giving him a hand job, but I have eaten beans straight from the can while watching TV. And lived in a dingy outer borough apartment. And had depressing liaisons with random douchebags. And lied to my mom about eating a good dinner.
Although I loved watching the film, I’ll agree there are some problems. Like some film critics I found the dark past and dad issues unnecessary info, and the postcolonial critique a lot less there than the writer/director would like to think. Having a thing for white boys does not a postcolonial critique make, although admitting to it can certainly be a good starting point for productive self-reflection.
When thinking up dishes for the film’s protagonist Laura, I knew I wanted to make something that was not much to look at from the outside but had a complex arrangement of ingredients on the inside. Although I toyed with doing a gordita, since Leap Year is set in Mexico City I ultimately settled on the “quintessential comida capitalina” – the torta. In addition to the usual accoutrements, for Laura’s torta I added cochinita pibil (because there was a lot of porking) drenched in a black mole (b/c of her dark past Oaxacan origins) and strings of Oaxacan cheese for the infinite web of lies and half-truths she artfully spins throughout the film. Although the torta can always be eaten in a group, for me it is the perfect solitary food, suitable for a lonely weeknight dinner in front of the tube.
Laura’s Torta (serves 1)
1 Bolillo or other crusty bread roll, cut in half and toasted
½ Ripe Avocado
½ cup Smashed Pinto Beans
½ Ripe Tomato, sliced
½ cup Shredded Lettuce
2 oz. Oaxacan Cheese, shredded into thin strings
2 tbs. Mole Negro base
2 tbs. water
1 cup OK quality takeout Cochinita Pibil, shredded*
¼ cup pickled onions
Squeeze of Lime Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cochinita Mole Negro: In a saucepan over medium heat mix together the Mole Negro base and 2tbs water until they form a smooth paste. Mix in shredded Cochinita Pibil, making sure to remove large pieces of fat, and stir until pork is fully integrated with the mole.
*Note: For those using better than OK quality cochinita pibil (or for those who feel uncomfortable mixing cochinita with mole), I suggest doing a separate layer of cochinita followed by the mole. Since I was using barely OK takeout cochinita and superior mole negro I felt pretty good about putting them together.
Assembly: 1. Spread both sides of bollilo with mayonnaise. 2. Spread smashed beans on bottom half and avocado on the top half. 3. Cover bottom half of bollilo with layers of Cochinita Mole Negro, Oaxacan Cheese, pickled onions, lettuce and tomato. 4. Season with salt, pepper, and lime. 5. Put two sides of bollilo together and slice in half. Enjoy!