‘Spice World,’ Chips and a (Carrot) Bacon Butty
The first installment in “Media Consumption,” a series of essays and recipes that take culinary inspiration from our favorite movies, TV shows, songs, and books.
It’s hard to picture it now but for about two solid years in the 1990s the Spice Girls were not only the biggest pop group on the planet, they had also winkled their way into our general perception of the entire world. There was no event that couldn’t have a Spice Girls angle to it, no section of the paper was safe from a reference to them, however oblique. I was deeply obsessed with the Spice Girls, and took their pervasiveness for granted — of course newspapers are going to mention them! The Spice Girls are the news!
The very peak of this publicity flurry was their 1997 film, Spice World, which charted a week in the life of the five, who played slightly heightened versions of themselves. It could have easily been badly-acted, self-indulgent nonsense (and its detractors will happily describe it as such), but instead Spice World is a witty, satirical, warm, and immensely good-natured time capsule. The cameos and bit parts are spectacular — from Jennifer Saunders to Hugh Laurie to Elton John to a pre-The Wire Dominic West — the costume changes come thick and fast, and the self-referential humour is remarkably game.
In a time before social media, before it was common to even have internet access, director Bob Spiers gave us rare access to these five women. Even with the fantasy sequences, surreal characters, and an alien encounter, there is a verisimilitude and a rambunctious candidness. It feels like this is actually what life was like for the Spice Girls.
I was inspired to make a recipe in honour of this film, using a crucial scene three quarters of the way through the caper as my reference point. The pressure of their relentless schedule and performance nerves have brought the Spice Girls to a collective boiling point, the night before their inaugural live concert. They storm out of a…