In the movie, "The Sunset Limited" Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson eat a dish which I'm dying to know what it is.
They say it has molasses, rutabaga, bananas and mangoes in it, and it's sort of liquid. Can anyone try and say what that is, and where I can find a complete recipe to make such a recipe? (If you are up for the challenge, maybe you can create one yourselves to include the ingredients above.)

This is the bit I am talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfH9SclYNVg&t=13m20s.

Also including a readable text link to the novel transcript.

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    It's not clear from the clip that this is even a real food; it's certainly not shown, and Hollywood is prone to making a lot of this stuff up. – Aaronut Nov 27 '11 at 3:51
  • Yeah, like the whole story is fiction I suspect... :-) – TFD Nov 27 '11 at 21:30
  • @Aaronut, there is a strong chance you're right, but I saw this movie twice now, and this dish really intrigues me. It might be made up, but I decided to give it my best shot in finding out... – hizki Nov 27 '11 at 22:58
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    The question is really intriguing. I did a bunch of reading (too much, probably), and didn't come up with anything conclusive (so no answer). It is clearly a fusion food, with creole, Puerto Rican and North African influences. I'm inclined to try it, thinking sort of "thick stew". While the work is fiction, I bet the dish has a basis in reality - it sounds exactly like something someone would make, but not document (home-style cookin'). – Sam Ley Feb 14 '12 at 5:39

A synopsis of the play says this about the dish:

In the second movement, White agrees to eat a meal of multi-cultural soul-food Black prepares for him, relishing it and Black's stories of prison life.

In Black's description in the clip you linked, he says that he learned to prepare it "right here in the ghetto" and that "there are a lot of different influences" from people that come from all over the world. It sounds like the dish is a metaphor for Black's world, or perhaps for his view of the world. Black also says that it gets better after a couple days, that you have to heat it up a few times to get the flavors right, "like chilli." This may be a continuation of the food as life metaphor, but if you take it literally you'd have to guess that the dish itself is a kind of stew.

So, given those clues, if you wanted to make something similar to what Black prepared, I think you'd start by thinking of stew recipes. Ingredients include molasses, banana, rutabaga, and mango, so you've got a mix of starch and sweet. Black and White share this as a meal, not a dessert, so I think you'd want to balance that sweetness with something savory and salty, maybe a ham hock. Onion would also add a savory-sweet flavor that could work with both smoky ham and the sweet ingredients. From there you could add other ingredients, probably whatever you have on hand -- corn, okra, carrots, raisins...

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I vote the dish is a hot dish, not a dessert. Samual L Jackson's character gives soul food to the man who is empty. I can't see soul food being cold, or a dessert. That shit is hot for your belly. This is amusing because I was looking for the same recipe after I saw the film. It seems that if the fruits and vegetables were all in chunks, and the molasses mixed with other chili like ingredients sort of provided the in between sauce you might be on the right track. Invent it. My friend once made chocolate soup on a Sunday afternoon.

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It sounds middle-eastern. I've had a dish with turnip wedges that were stewed in a pomegranate molasses sauce, but you could do something similar with rutabaga in molasses flavored with mango and banana.

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  • Can you devise a pseudo-recipe I could go by? – hizki Dec 4 '11 at 23:06

I don't know if it is a real dish; I couldn't find anything googling either.
What I gathered from the clip is that it's a spicy dessert.

The ingredients are: molasses, mango, banana, rutabaga, and chili.


They didn't chew much on it so I assume that the rutabaga was boiled down. I have never eaten it before but according to wikipedia it is a turnip like vegetable, but slightly bitter. but it looked as tho there was enough consistency for light chewing(could of been the fruits tho).


Tommy Lee Jones mentioned chili after the other ingredients, followed by a cup of water. So it is spicy, but yet the "creeps up on you" kind of spicy. (So it is boiled in with the rutabaga.)

Ok, I would first dice the rutabaga in 1 centimeter cubes then salt them. (I don't know how bitter it is so I would salt them if I thought the bitterness was overwhelming the other flavors.)
After that, I would rinse the rutabaga (so the dessert doesn't become salty).
Boil it in water with molasses brown sugar and chili powder. (If rutabaga is like other radish types it will absorb flavors well.)

I would boil it until the flavors soaked in well, but the rutabaga is still firm enough, so that if I poked it with a chopstick and lifted it, it wouldn't fall apart.

Next, I would use cornstarch and creme to thicken it a bit, then turn off the fire adding the banana and mango. Then let it cool naturally. (Both fruits are already soft so I would want to keep the consistency but slightly soften them by adding it into the mix right after I turn off the fire-) Then again, Samuel L Jackson said he reheated it a couple of times to get the flavor right; maybe he wanted a bit of the fruit flavors in the sauce as well. In this case, I would have 2 batches of banana and mango, the first would go in the pot with the rutabaga (it will probably melt), then the second batch at the end.

Instead of salting, I'd maybe boil the rutabaga once, taste the water and rutabaga, and if it is too bitter, dump out the water and reboil with fresh water, molasses, and brown sugar.

After it is cooled, refrigerate and serve cold! (The dishes weren't steaming.)

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    Um... you clearly heard wrong, chili was not stated as an ingredient, the line was "like chili", as an analogy for something that's better after being reheated once or twice. I do not even want to imagine a dessert made from actual chili. – Aaronut Nov 27 '11 at 16:37
  • @Aaronut, I was introduced to chilli and salt on fruit by a Mexican friend, but it seems to be popular in SE Asia too... – Peter Taylor Nov 27 '11 at 16:42
  • @PeterTaylor: I think you're referring to chili peppers or chili powder, not chili. I suppose I could be wrong, but... either way, there's no chance that it's what's being described in the clip or question. – Aaronut Nov 27 '11 at 16:45
  • @Aaronut, I am, but I think kishfoo is too. – Peter Taylor Nov 27 '11 at 16:46
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    @PeterTaylor: Maybe. But the movie isn't. There's no way that this answer can make sense in context. – Aaronut Nov 27 '11 at 16:50

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