Edinburgh diary: In which hangover food is required

Nicky Woolf knows the best spots for a morning-after pick-me-up.

August 12. Day five.

Hungover is the basic state for mornings at the Edinburgh Festival. They are as inevitable as the rain. It's probably possible to catch one without even having drunk anything, so intense is the atmosphere of morning-after pain that sits on the city like a black cloud each morning. But the show must go on, and Edinburgh has a number of places that specialise in hangover-curing curries or coffees to cut through the morning fog. Here are a few of the best.

Mosque Kitchen is a festival staple, a real life-saver. It started out as a tiny curry kitchen round the back of the Edinburgh Central Mosque on Potterow, doling out big steaming dollops of curry (meat, chicken, or vegetable), and rice and dahl on paper plates. It's the hangover nuclear option – and now they've opened a second premises, on Nicholson Square, to cope with their ever-growing demand from the suffering masses. You have not truly been to the Fringe unless you've indulged your hangover craving and binged on Mosque Kitchen curry.

Sometimes, some mornings, one simply has a pie-shaped hole in one's life. The Piemaker, on South Bridge fills that hole.

Walking in to 10 To 10 In Delhi is like entering a different world; a little slice of India in the middle of Edinburgh. The smell of spices fills the air, red and gold drapes adorn inviting seats, and the atmosphere is dreamy, somehow unreal. Their masala chai is all made fresh and to-order, and is a genuinely life-changing experience. After a couple of sips, no day after any kind of night before seems insurmountable.

Oink on Victoria Street, just off the Royal Mile, boasts enormous Scottish hog-roast sandwiches and nothing else, with a choice of either haggis or sage and onion stuffing. The rolls come in three sizes; the Piglet, the Oink, and the Grunter, and the crackling is the best you will ever taste.

It's difficult to spot Spoon. It's a bit of a secret, with its hidden-away entrance, but this airy and first-floor cafe, with it's eclectic décor, healthy sandwiches and home-made soups, is always a great breakfast option.

Last, but absolutely not least, Black Medicine is Edinburgh's most famous coffee shop. Free wi-fi, a large range of generously-filled ciabattas and bagels, custom wooden furniture and a bustling atmosphere all play second fiddle to some seriously amazing coffee. The place is aptly-named; the coffee is genuinely medicinal.

 

A performer at the Udderbelly venue. Chances are, he's hungover. Photograph: Getty Images.

Nicky Woolf is a writer for the Guardian based in the US. He tweets @NickyWoolf.

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Women on the edge: new films Jackie and Christine are character studies of haunted women

With their claustrophobic close-ups and desolate wide shots, both films are stunning portraits of life on the brink.

Jacqueline Kennedy and Christine Chubbuck may not have had much in common in real life – the former briefly the US first lady, the latter a put-upon television news reporter in the early 1970s in Sarasota, Florida – but two new films named after them are cut resolutely from the same cloth. Jackie and Christine are character studies of haunted women in which the claustrophobic close-up and the desolate wide shot are the predominant forms of address.

Both films hinge on fatal gunshots to the head and both seek to express cinematically a state of mind that is internal: grief and loss in Jackie, which is set mainly in the hours and days after the assassination of President John F Kennedy; depression and paranoia in Christine. In this area, they rely heavily not only on hypnotically controlled performances from their lead actors but on music that describes the psychological contours of distress.

Even before we see anything in Jackie, we hear plunging chords like a string section falling down a lift shaft. This is the unmistakable work of the abrasive art rocker Mica Levi. Her score in Jackie closes in on the ears just as the tight compositions by the cinematographer Stéphane Fontaine exclude the majority of the outside world. The Chilean director Pablo Larraín knows a thing or two about sustaining intensity, as viewers of his earlier work, including his Pinochet-era trilogy (Tony Manero, Post Mortem and No), will attest. Though this is his first English-language film, there is no hint of any softening. The picture will frustrate anyone hoping for a panoramic historical drama, with Larraín and the screenwriter Noah Oppenheim irising intently in on Jackie, played with brittle calm by Natalie Portman, and finding the nation’s woes reflected in her face.

Bit-players come and go as the film jumbles up the past and present, the personal and political. A journalist (Billy Crudup), nameless but based on Theodore White, arrives to interview the widow. Her social secretary, Nancy Tuckerman (Greta Gerwig), urges her on with cheerleading smiles during the shooting of a stiff promotional film intended to present her warmly to the public. Her brother-in-law Bobby (Peter Sarsgaard) hovers anxiously nearby as she negotiates the chasm between private grief and public composure. For all the bustle around her, the film insists on Jackie’s aloneness and Portman gives a performance in which there is as much tantalisingly concealed as fearlessly exposed.

A different sort of unravelling occurs in Christine. Antonio Campos’s film begins by showing Christine Chubbuck (Rebecca Hall) seated next to a large box marked “fragile” as she interviews on camera an empty chair in which she imagines Richard Nixon to be sitting. She asks of the invisible president: “Is it paranoia if everyone is indeed coming after you?” It’s a good question and one that she doesn’t have the self-awareness to ask herself. Pressured by her editor to chase juicy stories, she goes to sleep each night with a police scanner blaring in her ears. She pleads with a local cop for stories about the darker side of Sarasota, scarcely comprehending that the real darkness lies primarily within her.

For all the shots of TV monitors displaying multiple images of Christine in this beige 1970s hell, the film doesn’t blame the sensationalist nature of the media for her fractured state. Nor does it attribute her downfall entirely to the era’s sexism. Yet both of those things exacerbated problems that Chubbuck already had. She is rigid and off-putting, all severe straight lines, from her haircut and eyebrows to the crossed arms and tight, unsmiling lips that make it difficult for anyone to get close to her. That the film does break through is down to Hall, who illuminates the pain that Christine can’t express, and to the score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans. It’s perky enough on the surface but there are cellos sawing away sadly underneath. If you listen hard enough, they’re crying: “Help.” 

Ryan Gilbey is the New Statesman's film critic. He is also the author of It Don't Worry Me (Faber), about 1970s US cinema, and a study of Groundhog Day in the "Modern Classics" series (BFI Publishing). He was named reviewer of the year in the 2007 Press Gazette awards.

This article first appeared in the 19 January 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The Trump era