The Adventures of Tintin: Tfah, a Moroccan Apple Dessert

Year Released: 2011
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis
(PG, 104 min.)

"You care about something, you fight for it. You hit a wall, you push through it." Captain Archibald Haddock

Maybe we’re so spoiled by the quality of animated features that this fine family film debuted in December to only lukewarm reviews and box office. Or perhaps it was lost in the pack of pictures strutting across the stage at year’s end like a parade of pageant beauties, hidden in the herd behind all the long legs and wide smiles. 

Well, now that it is out on DVD, you owe it to yourself and your kids (or grandkids) to see this intriguing fusion of Indiana Jones and Treasure Island, with just a tad bit of Martin Scorsese’s delightful Hugo thrown in for good measure. Or you might compare it to more sophisticated Scooby Doo, with both Shaggy and his dog laying off the weed and elevating their IQ’s by about 30 points or so.

Perhaps critic Jeffrey M. Anderson best captures its essence: 

It's a pure boy's adventure film, plain and simple, about traveling the world (by boat, plane, and everything else) to find lost treasure. It's Indiana Jones re-imagined for the 21st century, without the bother of real life and aging actors.

And that’s exactly why the film was such a hit with *The Peanut Gallery, who freed from the constraints of the movie theater -- especially the Draconian strictures to silence gleefully employed by our local Alamo Drafthouse gang – filled the family room with wild hoots and hollers during some of the more intense action set pieces.

The film is, after all, based on a series of comic books from Belgian artist Georges Remi, known succinctly as Hergé, who pioneered an even-handed style of cartooning with solid lines and no shading known as ligne claire

In comic books, as in the minds of young boys (and equally adventurous girls), there is no need to question how or why Tintin, (Jamie Bell) supposedly about 15 years old, lives on his own in a small apartment with only a dog for a companion. And the young investigative reporter is no novice either, as the framed stories about his scoops that decorate his walls can confirm.

But, heck, with a dog as cute and cuddly as Snowy, who not only steals every scene, but is actually a better amateur sleuth and engaging hero than the boy-man Tintin, who needs those tiresome appendages like parents, anyway? Have I inadvertently stumbled upon another reason behind the timeless popularity of this film as well as its comic book forbears, at least among the younger set? 

Snowy, a wire-haired fox terrier, not only competes quite strongly with Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier who helped endear us to The Artist, but he is the same breed as Asta, that inimitable member of the Nick and Nora Charles household otherwise known as the cast of The Thin Man, not bad sleuths themselves, when they could tear themselves away from their cocktails and repartee.

At least the dogs aforementioned here are not the alcoholics, as was Neil, the ghost dog from television's “Topper,” that mournful looking St. Bernard, who after death, guzzled the brandy he had once toted around in the little wooden cask attached to his collar.

Unfortunately, one of the characters in Tintin, Captain Archibald Haddock (Andy Serkis) has much the same predilection as Neil, and though his preference is for rum or whiskey, he is not averse to drinking just about any form of alcohol when in need, which is about 100 percent of the time. In fact, Captain Haddock’s drunkenness is both an important plot device, as well as a staple basis for much of the humor in the film.

He belches floating blobs of alcohol, which he and Snowy snap up like so many floating JuJu Beads when their nose-diving airplane goes into zero gravity. (I guess I may have to retract my earlier statement about Snowy being a teetotaler.) Indeed, the drunken state is such a norm for him that only in his full dry out phase, forced upon him when they crash in the desert, does the captain hallucinate.

Spielberg, who breaks down the double walls of political correctness surrounding alcohol and tobacco in the personage of Captain Haddock, uses this hallucinating phase brilliantly to transition to a flashback of ancestor Sir Francis Haddock’s original sea battle a couple of centuries earlier.

In fact, the flashback, which hiccups back and forth from the 20th century desert to the 17th century sea like a tipsy sailor, was a unanimous delight for the Peanut Gallery, which tells you that even little tykes can spot good production values when they see them. 

*The Peanut Gallery consists of Different Drummer’s apprentice critics, grandchildren Gram, Weston, Emmett, Ava, and Jack, hop scotching in age from 3 to almost 9. Ava must alone support the female point of view, but this damsel is definitely not in distress, and takes on that task as she does everything else in life -- with a fearless zeal.

—Kathy & The Peanut Gallery

Film-Loving Foodie

The final piece of the puzzle that leads to the treasure is located in Bagghar, a fictitious Moroccan port, where the third replica of the sailing ship holds the final clue in its tiny mast.

Except the ship is encased in bulletproof glass. Maybe that is why Tintin’s Nemesis, sinister Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine, is so enamored with the “Milanese nightingale,” a famous Italian opera singer who is certainly nothing to look at, but very alluring with her penetrating high C’s.

Too bad Tintin and the captain don’t have time to sample the Moroccan food, certainly filled with exotic flavors to delight the senses.

Let’s indulge in it for them. I’ve chosen Tfah, a Moroccan Apple Dessert, enhanced with exotic Orange Blossom Water, which you can find at Whole Foods and Mediterranean markets. 

Or, if you are like Grandson Gram, who separates himself from his peers in his love for fish, try this Moroccan Herbed Fish from The Bourne Ultimatum.

Tfah, a Moroccan Apple Dessert

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients 

  • 8 tart apples , peeled cored and sliced in 8-10 wedges
  • 3 lemons
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 -4 tablespoons orange blossom water (available at Whole Foods and Middle Eastern and Indian grocery stores) 

 Directions 

  1. Begin by removing the yellow part of the lemon peel from the lemons and cutting it into small strips.
  2. Juice the lemons and reserve 1/2 cup for later use.
  3. Peel and core apples, cutting into 8 - 10 wedges depending on the size of your apples.
  4. Place sugar, water, and cinnamon in a large saucepan and bring to a low boil.
  5. Once the mixture boils, add the apples, lemon rind, lemon juice and orange blossom water to the pot. (I find orange blossom water to be quite potent and would start with the lower amount and add more to suit personal taste.)
  6. Cook until the mixture is dry and the apples and lemon rind are tender.
  7. Remove from heat and allow the dessert to cool.
  8. Serve at room temperature.

 Recipe Source: food.com