Movie Night: Puccini for Beginners

Welcome to Movie Night! Where we choose a movie based on any number of variables and feelings, create a themed menu to match, then spend Friday / Saturday night eating these foods and watching these movies!

Q: What’s better than a real life Italian cooking you an Italian dinner?

A: Cuddling up with said Italian to watch a lesbian Italian(ish) movie!

Originally we were going to have a super Italian night and watch Bound but since it wasn’t available on Netflix we went with Puccini for Beginners. And by “we” I am referring to myself and two very beautiful ladies, one of whom is Alex Vega’s girlfriend (#donttellvega).

Puccini for Beginners

[ buy me ]

A little about Puccini for Beginners:

Snappy repartee with the ring of real conversation among people who are never at a loss for a remark is something every self-respecting Manhattan sophisticate imagines can be channeled into a screenplay with the crackle of vintage Woody Allen. That elusive tone is sustained through enough of Maria Maggenti’s film “Puccini for Beginners” to make it a rarity. The movie, a screwball comedy of sexual confusion with lesbian inclinations, photographed in digital video all over Manhattan, comes more than a decade after Ms. Maggenti’s promising debut, “The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love.” It captures the neurotic self-absorption of a class of academic and literary New Yorkers who put enormous stock in precisely verbalizing every opinion and emotion, using terms like “paradigm shift.” — Stephen Holden (New York Times)

I think my favorite thing about this movie is that it doesn’t try to explain gay. Gay is simply accepted in it as a part of life and people. Also, it could easily be a heterosexual love story if you just cast the characters differently which I also adore because again, it is relatable and something quite normal in the world of the movie and should be in the world of reality.

“Commit! Just listen to that word, it’s what they do in insane asylums!”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Eggplant Florentine
Coconut Macaroons

The ladies poured and sipped some delicious cabernet sauvignon while I started dinner.

Eggplant Florentine


1 large Eggplant
2 cups of Breadcrumbs
1/2 cup of Flour
1/2 cup of Egg whites
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large bag of Spinach
2 cloves minced Garlic
1 jar of Marinara sauce
Salt to taste

Heat the oven to broil and steam the spinach.

Warm the marinara in a covered pot. Set up one bowl with the breadcrumbs and flour and fill another one with the egg whites and olive oil. Slice the eggplant into half inch slices and then dip the slices one by one into the egg white mixture and then the breadcrumb mixture.

Lay out the slices onto baking sheets and put it in the oven until the tops are browned and then flip them and bake for another ten minutes. They should be browned on both sides and fork tender when they come out.

When the spinach is finished steaming drain it and then sauté it with salt and minced garlic.
Spoon some marinara onto a clean plate, layer one eggplant round, spoon on a heaping serving of spinach, layer another round of eggplant, add a bit more marinara and a bit more spinach and voila! a decadent Italian masterpiece.

“Those who break up with me usually earn my life long devotion.”

Coconut Macaroons

If you REALLY want to get laid you can also quite easily whip up some coconut macaroons.


4 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1 (8oz) package of sweetened shredded coconut (lightly toasted)
(optional: 1/2 cup sugar)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixer with a whip attachment whip the egg whites with the salt until they become white and begin to stiffen. Add optional sugar in small quantities and continue to whip the egg mixture until it becomes quite stiff. Fold in the toasted coconut. Scoop little balls of the mixture onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The outside should be golden brown and the inside should still be moist (THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID).

When dinner is served pop in the movie and enjoy!

Share any Puccini-related recipes / memories / favorite feelings in the comments!

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Sarah Croce

Sarah has written 14 articles for us.


  1. I really liked this movie the first time I saw it. It is now on Netflix Instant. No choice but to rewatch and confirm these feelings.

  2. I really like this movie, it has one of my fav quotes because it’s exactly how I feel!

    “Ok, well, let me put it like this then- I want a lifetime partner. And I can’t help it, that’s just how I am. And I know you’re against that kind of stuff and you think that it’s slavery and patriarchy and all that kind of stuff. But, Allegra, I want to grow old with someone. And that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a self, it means that you want to share yourself with someone else. I don’t want to be with someone who shuts down as soon as she starts feeling close.”

  3. Wait! Cut to the chase: are there lesbians in this movie?

    I am deathly afraid of spoilers so I scrolled right over those pretty words you typed.

  4. Oh my goodness, I love this movie! I definitely have to watch it again. Thank you for bringing it back to the spotlight!

  5. i was neutral on this movie, but then again i liked lost and delirious so i basically have no discernable ability to judge movies cause i will watch anything with a lesbo in it. no shame.


  6. Coconut macaroons are absolutely amazing. I wish I could cook and I had money to buy ingredients ’cause then I would make some.

  7. Autostraddle how do you know me so well? You’re like the girlfriend I don’t have lol (~*~foreveralone~*~)

    So glad you coordinated with netflix instant. I already had dinner but I am totally watching the movie.

    • Post-movie report: I liked Sam because freckles are my weakness, so I’m glad it turned out how it did. Actually in general I thought it worked out very well although the guy kinda annoyed me (probs because he was a man, so it’s probably not his fault I am like Nell or something)

  8. It is currently morning, and therefore time for breakfast, but see, I just read this. I have an eggplant in the fridge. Anything is possible.

    • I understand exactly how you feel. I, too, have an eggplant, it is morning, and I just read this. I am at an impasse which may include eventually calling in to work.

  9. I like this movie; it was actually one of the first movies I watched on LOGO.

    Um, I really liked Julianne Nicholson (Samantha) in this movie, but I liked her a lot better when she was on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Something about being a Detective with a bit of dykey haircut really made it for me. I will now watch her in anything.

  10. There’s a typo: “When dinner is served pop in the moive and enjoy!”

    I vaguely remember this movie. I probably saw it when it first came out. I think I actually rented it from a video store (remember those days?). I remember thinking it was OK, but love triangles with men just don’t interest me that much. It’s been done enough. And I don’t remember finding any of the characters in the movie that likable. I’m sure the word Allegra came before the drug, but I was wondering why she was named after an anti-allergy medicine.

  11. I really dislike watching movies (i know, I’m weird), but I’m going to watch this because Autostraddle said so.

  12. I looooooove Puccini for Beginners! It’s kind of goofy and I’m sometimes embarrassed (in non-gay circles) to admit it’s one of my favorites, but I really love it to death. I actually squealed with glee when I saw it mentioned on the front page of Autostraddle. :D

  13. I am going to watch this right now. Unfortunately, my frozen Lean Cuisine pizza is probably as close as I’m going to get to real Italian food.

  14. this was already in my instant queue, and i just got my xbox live set up, so all i need is a cute girl to come cuddle and watch it with me. i refuse to start the movie until she arrives.

  15. Okay. Officially cute.

    I love the little moments of magical realism.

    Now on to an important question….is someone being murdered beneath the cutting board?

  16. Also that dude makes me think of Doctor Who. What do I know him from? Because I know he’s not actually the Doctor.

    • If you watch Weeds love, then that’s from there ! ;)
      (And by the by, I love that movie, hehe)

  17. just finished

    oh yeah the man – i also recognized him from “Weeds”

    overall fun and funny movie, but nothing tooo groundbreaking :/ :)

  18. I have loved this movie for years. SO GOOD.

    Must have seen in half a dozen times. Love the love!

    Also, that’s not how I’ve ever seen anyone cook eggplant. I’ve always laid the slices on a cooling rack, sprinkle with salt, let the liquid drain out for 5-10 minutes, squeezed the heck out of them, then salt and squeeze the other side, THEN cook. It gives them a denser, meatier texture and is just better, in my and my culinary messiah, Alton Brown’s, opinion.

    • HOLY SHIT I’ve always wondered why my eggplant never stayed crispy after baking/frying. I’m totally applying this super helpful tip. Thanks for this!

  19. I know it’s not Friday or Saturday anymore… but I hope Sunday movie night is okay as well. After Brazil-USA finishes that is. =]
    Sadly, my friends who are watching with me are alternately allergic to eggplant and gluten free.

  20. Am I the only one who really did not like this movie? Bound, on the other hand: can’t talk, watching Gina Gershon…

  21. I love this Croce! I get the low-down on some movie AND some delish eats. I live vicariously through your food posts… and I get to eat the left-overs :)

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