What’s your damage? Heathers, the 1989 black comedy written by Daniel Waters and directed by Michael Lehmann, is the liaison between 80’s materialism and 90’s nihilism. Winona Ryder is exquisite as Veronica, who’s wealthy and beautiful, yet dark and down to earth in a sea of Heathers led by Heather Chandler (Kim Walker). She practically defines the voice of the next generation.
Besides its cultural significance, there also happens to be LOTS of food in this quirky film. “Great pate, but I gotta motor,” Veronica quips after an afternoon with her parents. Pate is synonymous at this time with the wealthy, and seems significantly grown-up. The high school kids on the other hand, even the rich ones, prefer convenience store food – turbo dogs, Twizzlers and cherry Slushies! That’s charming, but the food references in the movie that age much less well are the flippant jokes about eating disorders, however significant in the story. Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty), timidly suffers bulimia under Heather Chandler’s rule, but after HC’s untimely demise she blossoms into the new queen whilst chowing on a drumstick.
Pulled from some great options, what we’re making for Heathers are homemade BBQ corn nuts, that Veronica and Heather Chandler procure from the gas station. Delightfully both high brow (homemade!) and low brow (still corn nuts!), my main draw was that these crunchy little nuggets were queen bee HC’s dying words. (Sidenote, what would my dying words be? Probably crunchy tuna roll…)
Giant white corn kernels can be purchased in Hispanic groceries and perhaps even your grocery’s latin aisle. Soak them overnight to prepare. I tried one batch baked, and while I believe it’s possible, this is the less desirable option as your final product will be oilier, chalkier, and with a higher chance of burning your spices. I don’t deep fry often, but I find several inches in my smallest sauce pan isn’t too much clean up, just fry in batches and you’re golden, literally. The BBQ spice mix is super simple and can be used on meats, veggies, and whatever you choose, but today…it’s corn nuts.
Homemade BBQ Corn Nuts
1 pound giant white corn kernels (soaked at least 8 hours, preferably overnight)
vegetable oil for frying
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Drain and towel dry corn kernels. On medium high heat, heat 3 inches or so of oil. Fry the kernels in single-layer batches for 9-12 minutes, turning gently every few minutes, until golden and slightly puffed. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large paper towel-lined dish.
While the first batch of kernels are frying, combine the sea salt, brown sugar, paprika, cumin, and garlic powder in a small bowl with a fork. With each drained batch, sprinkle generously with the spice mix, and once the batch is cool enough to handle, toss to coat.
Serve with drinks – preferably beer, less preferably drain cleaner.