Julie Anne Rhodes in a dress worn by Ida Lupino for You magazine

The magic of the cinema often provides me with a welcome respite from the problems and daily doldrums of life. Mom saw to it that I grew up on a steady diet of Clark Gable, Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, and Bette Davis. Nostalgia actually sweeps over me whenever I see a great oldie from the 1930’s or 40’s even though I was born decades later!

I love this time of year because we are coming up on award season. I’m a voting member of BAFTA LA (British Academy of Film & Television Los Angeles), a welcome vestige of my acting days. That means there are at least a couple screenings to attend each week to perk up my social life, and everyday feels like Christmas as the screeners begin to arrive. It has put me on a first name basis with my UPS and Fedex carriers since I see them nearly every day from the end of October through December…always greeting them with the excitement of a kid let loose in a candy store.

Attending a London screening with Yasmin Le Bon and our children

This year promises to be an extra good one if the first few screenings I’ve seen are anything to go by. So far my favorites have been the English film, An Education; following the exploits of a highly intelligent schoolgirl headed for Oxford, and the life lessons she learns from her sophisticated and much older boyfriend along the way. Coco Before Chanel is a visual feast documenting the life experiences that led up to the fashion diva embarking on her distinguished career (a much more interesting story than yet another rehash of her rise to fashion icon). Then we change gear to a gripping thriller with Law Abiding Citizen. Warning: this film contains some of the most disturbing graphic scenes I’ve ever witnessed, but they are entirely necessary to the success of the plot and not gratuitous. There are a few predictable moments of lingering goodbyes when you know someone is going to “bite-it” imminently, but otherwise the film cleverly weaves through a broken justice system that pushes a man over the edge of sanity in his misguided attempt to come to terms with how it failed him.

Of course popcorn and candy go hand in hand with watching movies. A recent trip to London got me thinking about the differences between English and American cinema refreshments. At first glance they look remarkably similar.

English concessions

American concessions

Look a little closer, and you’ll notice there is a divider between the English popcorn. Rather than eating buttered popcorn like we do in the US, they give you a choice between salty and sweet. I usually opt for a mixture of the salty and sweet popcorn…although my favorite of all happens to be the caramel corn here in Los Angeles at the Archlight cinema where they make it fresh on the premises several times a day. Both serve hot dogs, ice cream, soda, and they also had their selections of packaged candy behind the counter, but the Brits have this too…

…a whole wall of candy to choose from that you bag yourself… talk about being let loose in a candy store!

Julie Anne Rhodes

How do you like your popcorn? I’m excited to report I now have readers in 62 different countries. How do the refreshments differ where you live? Oh, and while we are on the subject of awards please don’t forget to vote for Jewels from The Roving Stove in the Bloggers Choice Awards.

Caramel Corn

Servings: 4

  • 8 cups of popped popcorn
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pinch baking soda

1). Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Place popped popcorn in a large roasting pan. Set aside.

2). Stir together brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, bring to boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda. Immediately pour over popcorn in roasting pan, and stir to coat.

3). Bake in 200 degree preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring several times to coat evenly.

4). Cover a jelly roll pan with wax paper. Pour caramel corn onto jelly roll pan, spreading evenly and carefully separating pieces. Let cool completely. Store in airtight container.
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  • October 25, 2009
    2:32 pm

    I am a popcorn aficionado. I love it! When I'm in Europe, I like a mix of the sweet kettle corn and some salty popcorn too. At home (SE Michigan), I make popcorn on the stove, and use either olive oil or coconut oil when making it. I am allergic to dairy, so butter is out, but I find that by cooking the popcorn in just enough olive oil, and then lightly drizzling it over the top is just as good if not better. The coconut oil only works if hubby is not home (he hates the smell of coconut). Kimberly

  • October 25, 2009
    4:42 pm

    Hi Kimberly… as much as the caramel corn is my favorite… it is too indulgent to have often, so I normally munch on plain popcorn (no butter) with some Lawry salt and parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top. I used to make it in a saucepan on the stove with a little olive oil like you mentioned, but I found a nifty little microwave air popper at Target that I use now… even more low calorie without the oil.

  • October 25, 2009
    11:33 pm

    Hi Julie Anne,Popcorn…I just love it. My favorite would definately have to be plain with a little salt however as a child I just loved it with butter. I've seen the caramel popcorn but never had it. I guess I'm afraid I will end up with sticky caramel in between my teeth. The parmesan though sounds nice. I usually take some parmesan peanuts with me or parmesan cashew nuts. They are one of my favorites to snack on also. c Here in Oz buttered poporn is pretty much the number one choice at the cinema but we do have sweet varieties also. Our candy selection is great. We too also have a huge wall of various candy treats that you bag yourself, pretty much like in the UK as you mentioned.My husband is not into poporn at all, so all that poporn at the cinema becomes mine to indulge. Like yourself, I used to make the poporn on the stove but thanks to my mum I too have something similar like your microwave air popper. I agree, very low calorie without the oil which is fantastic.Aussie Mum

  • October 25, 2009
    11:40 pm

    Just exactly how I remember Australia… best of both worlds!

  • October 29, 2009
    10:32 pm

    Hi Julie Anne,Here in the Netherlands we have our popcorn the English way: Sweet or Salt. My fave is caramel 😀 We also have the candy walls here.Quit some years back we had service cinema. With little lamps and tables and you could order your drinks or snack while watching the movie!Vonne

  • November 6, 2009
    3:47 am

    HI Julie Anne,I live on the border of North Dakota and South Dakota. There is still a drive in on the South Dakota side. I live for summertime just for the drive in. They serve the standard hot dogs, popcorn, snow cones, and candy but they also serve homemade bar-b-que sandwiches too…I just love being outside watching movies on the huge screen…