In “Volver,” Penelope Cruz mimes a bulerias tango. Cooking replaces sex. These changes might not be to everybody’s taste. But the food in the film looks scrumptious. All need explanation:
Aunt Paula — or Irene’s ghost — prepares barquillos: small, spliff-shaped waffles, a Manchegan speciality. Ingredients: four cupfuls of cold, toast-toned olive oil, two of white wine, one of aguardiente; juice of six oranges; teaspoon of sugar. Preparation: Mix, add flour. Whirl around canes. Fry. Remove canes. Liberally sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
A neighbor offers Raimunda mantecados manchegos, or sweet biscuits. Ingredients: 700 grams of fresh pig lard; 100 grams of sugar glasse; 1 cup of white wine; 1.5 kilos of flour. Preparation: Whisk lard until spongey, add wine and, gradually, flour, until mixture thickens. Bang pastry against table. Roll with pin. Cut mantecados with upturned glass. Leave overnight al fresco. Bake in hot oven. Sprinkle with sugar.
“Volver” is a tango, composed and first sung by Argentine tango titan Carlos Gardel. Lip-synching Spain’s Estrella Morente, however, Cruz renders it as a buleria, a jaunty flamenco palo favored at fiestas. Song has a special relevance for Irene’s return from the dead to confront Raimunda, but also for the film, described by Almodovar as a return to the world of his mother: “Living/with the soul clinging/to a sweet memory/which I cry about again.”