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Missy McAllister Kerr
Timpano from the archives of The Internet Epicurean

This article may seem to come a little bit after the fact, considering the film, Big Night was released in the fall of 1996, but all of the interest can no longer be ignored. At least twice a week, we get requests and questions about this dish called Timpano. Timpano, what's that? I have heard of Timballo, but that's not it. Well, apparently Timpano has been made famous by a movie. Big Night is a movie directed and starred in by Stanley Tucci. I've read that a great deal of time in this movie is spent prepararing and presenting Timpano.

I have not seen the movie, but not for lack of trying. It was released at a time in my life when a lot of things were going on in the world, that just went by me unnoticed. I was preparing to wed. But now that I have been hearing so much about this film and Timpano, it is no longer playing in theaters in my part of the world, and it is not out on video yet. The video is scheduled for release on April 1st, at least that is what Blockbuster Video told me. So now I have to wait anxiously for April Fool's Day. For the time being, I will have to use my imagination.

I have been able to find two recipes on the internet for Timpano (see below), both acknowledge that they were inspired by the film. Timpano is a pastry crust filled with pasta, ragu, meatballs, peas, chicken and mozzarella. It is cooked in layers and when sliced the strata is apparent and magnificent. So magnificent that your guests will probably applaud. That's what I am told they do in the movie.

If you are going to prepare Timpano, you had better have at least one whole day of ingredient gathering and one whole day of preparation. Especially if you are an amateur chef like me. Each of the ingredients I mentioned above is essentially a dish itself. The description of Timpano, as I write it down here, does not sound that impressive. I think that the ceremony surrounding the preparation and the meaning behind this Big Night in the film must add a lot to its legend. Don't get me wrong I am all for romanticism and seeking the place where this Big Night took its characters. It's just that I haven't seen the film!

One that I have seen, that I am told compares to Big Night, is Eat Drink Man Woman. Now that's a film that I can talk about. It is an adventure for your palate. From the first shot on the screen to the very last, it is a food experience. The film draws parallels between life, food and cooking. It may sound silly, but it works. Definitely see this film while you are waiting for Big Night to come out. Several other food films have been called to my attention: Babette's Feast, Like Water for Chocolate, and Tampopo. I enjoyed Eat Drink so much that I will have to take a look at these, too. Use these Internet finds to spark your interest about Timpano.

Timpano Recipe from the archives

Timpano Recipes on the Internet
Why does everyone want to learn how to make Timpano? An Italian point of view
Timpano of Macaroni
About.com's many Timpano recipes

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