BY SID MARCH
Filmmaker, foodie and visionary Gabrielle Lindau has filled her life with keen observations — and things that taste like chicken. Lindau has traveled the world filming, exploring, taking big chances for her art and tasting the local flavors. Her latest project, “It Tastes Like Chicken,” is a global adventure in local eats, and her first collaborative project with her fiancée, illustrator Emily Bowers.
Before we get into your backstory, tell me about your upcoming cookbook “It Tastes Like Chicken.”
My fiancée Emily is doing the illustrations. It’s our first collaborative effort, and a change of pace for me as a filmmaker. I grew up always hearing “it tastes like chicken!” My parents would say it to get me to eat things I didn’t want to try, and I’ve heard this phrase all over the world! There are so many recipes out there that really fall into the list, from alligator sausage to escargot. I’m exploring those recipes and sharing how I came across eating these things around the world.
Did you discover any unexpectedly awesome foods in the process? What kind of culinary adventures have you had?
The strangest thing was alligator sausage. I went to New Orleans a number of times in early 2000, I love shooting down there, taking pictures of the culture, the different colors that the city has to offer. I went to the French market and there was this little stand that had alligator on a stick! Part of me said “oh no!” but there was this other part of me that had to. Surprisingly, it was really yummy. I was expecting to take a bite or two and be like “eh, gross” but it was delicious! Turtle Soup is another thing. Believe it or not, “it tastes like a chicken.” (laughs) And believe me, I don’t eat like this normally at all! My diet truly consists of mostly and fruits and vegetables and legumes and whole grains, but every once in awhile in my travels, I find myself in these predicaments where the local culture is offering me something, and I’ve just got to.
You recently contributed to the “Sweet Cookbook” — can you give us a little preview you of what you shared?
I contributed a Persian rice dish. When Candy Parker reached out to me, I was so happy. There’s a really interesting mixture of people writing recipes, too. When Candy told me about the Cozumel Humane Society [whom the book will benefit], I could totally identify with why she wanted to help. So many homeless dogs wandering on the beach!
Let’s talk about your other projects. “These Showers Can Talk” is the piece of yours that seems to have earned the most widespread awareness/fame. Hey, it’s on IMDB.
It definitely just happened to be the perfect recipe for an independent short film at the time because of the amazing people we had contributing and the subject matter.
The piece addresses lesbian stereotypes. I saw an interview with you that touched upon the kind of existentialist slant, an influence spurred by your reading of “Nausea” by Jean-Paul Sartre. Is there anything about this piece, any guts that you feel haven’t been touched by previous interviews?
Existentialism and Sartre fascinate me. He proposes this question of existence and “I am my own hell.” I always wonder what type of philosophies are being developed around the world and in what time frames, given the certain circumstances in world history.
What I wanted to do was explore that more from an individual perspective. What does it mean to be gay, to encounter media stereotypes, to be a butch lesbian or a feminine lesbian. I was always hearing these words. For a good while, there was only a certain type of person being portrayed in the media. What is it like to date as a lesbian and to encounter what the media says exists? It is a dark comedy. I wanted it to be.
“Who You Are” is a feature length film that documents hate crimes against LGBT people around the globe. It could be a real eye opener to people who aren’t normally exposed to the sheer level of violence and the extremity of the responses people frequently have toward the LGBT community in other parts of the world. What is the most critical aspect of this particular piece to you?
The most important thing was to get the message across about whats happening out there. [My co-filmmaker] Vertna Bradley, who I met at the European Graduate School in Switzerland, and I just started hearing more about recent hate crimes. We kept seeing more and more young kids killing themselves. It starts with a punch in the face in the bathroom at Stonewall and it can lead to a mob beating. It’s very hard to see. In Serbia, one man who came out and was celebrating at a gay parade was attacked by 15-20 neo-nazis and beaten to a bloody pulp. This can happen here too. We have socially had a lot of awareness toward the issue but things like this can happen here if attention isn’t brought to the issue and if compassion isn’t in the hearts of all Americans.
How do you personalize the violent imagery so it breaks through our American densensitization to images of brutality ? What approach do you, as a filmmaker, take to making things touch us?
It’s hard as a filmmaker to really step outside of the American candy coating factory. We take certain risks, we take the risk that it’s so gory or so real that people aren’t going to want to watch it. We’re exposing an issue that still has an enormous amount of opposition. We had planned to cover Euro Pride in Warsaw, Poland; it was the first time Euro Pride had been held in the Eastern Bloc. We were down to thinking of even wearing masks. We realized what dangers we were actually getting into as filmmakers.
We wanted to go to Russia to talk to some of the people who have made underground gay and lesbian film. I spoke with a Russian attorney about this: would my life be in jeopardy? The truth is it really would have been and to do those things, I would have had to go undercover in some of the places. Instead of risking our lives, it was more important to bring awareness to the issue in our own backyard first. There have been milestones made but it is still a battle many citizens around the world face. I do believe it’s getting better.
Besides trying to go undercover, are there any big risks you’ve taken on the road?
When I was shooting “Dinosaur Hunters,” a reality TV show I’ve created with construction guys who are amateur paleontologists, we went to the Badlands in Montana. Everyone said, “wasn’t it beautiful, wasn’t it gorgeous?” It was not. It was dangerous, it was the end of August, and it was hot and very frightening. If you get lost, there’s a good chance you’re not coming back. It’s nothing like what you see in pictures. There’s a reason why the Indians turned it to badlands – the brush you see is up to your knees and spiders as big as your palm are living in it! I found myself one day walking on the edge of a cliff, going for a huge collection of a petrified wood. I had no pick, no rope and thought, “what am I doing?!” All I had was my camera! I took baby steps.
Editor’s Note: The day before this article was published, Gabrielle Lindau’s grandmother, who was a major inspiration for “It Tastes Like Chicken” and who fostered Gabrielle’s love of cooking, passed away. Her grandmother, who grew up in Nazi-occupied France, worked for an aunt’s restaurant in Lyon. When she was 19 years old, she left Lyon for Paris, intending to fly to America and meet the love of her life. She missed her flight and, as fate tends to have such twists, the plane she would have been on crashed. With hope and love in her heart, she took the next flight, which landed safely on American soil, welcoming her to a new life. Her stories and strength have been a huge inspiration to Gabrielle. She wishes to share this story in her honor and memory. We at Lesbian.com send our deepest condolences as well as our thanks for sharing such a personal journey with us.
“It Tastes Like Chicken” will be available via Gabrielle’s website and Amazon.com before spring.