I actually wanted to do Citizen Ruth two years ago, but I watched it and really couldn’t find much inspiration for a menu. I mean, it’s a satirical movie about a drug addict caught in the middle of a war between anti-choice and pro-choice groups. But today, while I was eating a taco I thought of the movie and it all became clear.
Citizen Ruth is one of my favorite ‘no one else has heard of it’ movies. It has an amazing cast, it’s funny but not slapstick-y, and it addresses a real issue. Ruth is a homeless woman who bounces from place to place, trading sex in hopes for a place to crash, and huffing paint is her drug of choice. She lands in jail again and is pregnant, after having multiple children that she does not have custody of, so she’s charged with endangering her fetus. She ends up sharing a cell with some anti-choice protesters, who decide that they need to help her get out of her serious charge and get her life back into shape.
Unfortunately for them, Ruth is a giant child and a serious addict, she’s nice and saying she wants to change one minute, but any chance she gets to sniff or smoke or drink, she takes it. When people challenge her, she immediately calls them names and resorts to violence. She is definitely not a hero in this story, there really isn’t one. There’s also no side that comes out looking good, this movie is neither an endorsement nor a condemnation of abortion. The overall lesson of the movie is that when opposing sides of an issue start to rally around a person as their cause, they often lose sight of the person totally. The two sides are so caught up in their fight that in the end, they don’t even notice Ruth. And she notices them not noticing, and takes advantage of it.
Starring Laura Dern (Jurassic Park, Enlightened), Swoosie Kurtz (Pushing Daises, Mike & Molly), Kurtwood Smith (That 70’s Show, Robocop), Mary Kay Place (Big Love, My So-Called Life), Kelly Preston (Jerry McGuire, married to scientology), M.C. Gainey (Lost, Django Unchained, Justified) with cameos from Tippi Hedren (The Birds), Burt Reynolds (hairy chested 70’s sex symbol), David Graf (Tackleberry from Police Academy), and Diane Ladd, Dern’s real life mother, plays her mother.
So like I said, there is little food inspiration in the movie besides some steaks on a grill, but today I did the Taco Or Beer Challenge and while I was eating I thought of the movie and it was like a lightbulb. Citizen Ruth is currently available on Netflix streaming, so challenge or not I hope you check it out. Here is a recipe for steak tacos, and at one point in the movie Diane mentions that she and Rachel had brought a lot of the clothing that they give to Ruth back from Guatemala, and wikipedia informs me that Guatemalan cuisine “prominently feature[s] corn, chilis and beans as key ingredients” so tacos work perfectly anyway!