“It’s like Thanksgiving in here!” marvels single mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) at her neighbor’s luxuries: a full-size refrigerator and a crockpot, in contrast to the mini-fridge and microwave in the tiny motel room she shares with her six-year-old daughter Moonee (Brooklynn Prince). In The Florida Project, writer/director Sean Baker creates a magical movie about childhood and community in an unlikely place—budget motels outside Disney World.
Halley spends most of her time trying to get money to pay for food and their motel room. They subsist on donated white bread, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the occasional pizza—though they can’t afford the pepperoni that Moonee loves.
Moonee and her friends run wild, and so do their imaginations. They love ice cream, and often go to Twistee Treat, “where we get free ice cream,” Moonee says. By “free,” she means that they beg strangers for change, telling creative stories to elicit sympathy. Cadging enough for one cone of vanilla, the children always share it equally.
But breakfast is Moonee’s favorite meal. Twice Halley takes Moonee for a breakfast blowout she can’t afford. The first time, at a local diner, Moonee almost orders her way through the entire menu, delighting as plate after plate arrives, including eggs and bacon—and then extra bacon. For the finale, a mother-daughter burping contest.
Later, when things are at their darkest, Halley takes Moonee to the breakfast buffet at a nearby upscale hotel. Moonee runs the length of it, ecstatic at the piles of pastries and mountains of fruit. This is a dream come true for Moonee, who wishes that she had a bigger stomach, and that even the forks could be made out of candy. Halley doesn’t eat. She just looks lovingly at Moonee, a child who makes her own magic.
“Order whatever you want,” Halley tells Moonee when they go for breakfast. Recreate your own breakfast buffet—a magical meal any time of day—at home with our recipes for buttermilk pancakes, French toast, crispy bacon, and hash browns. For a sweet treat, make a quart of vanilla ice cream, too. If you’re out of syrup for pancakes or French toast, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some fruit are the perfect topping.
The secret to extra fluffy pancakes? Egg whites beaten separately, and then folded into the buttermilk batter. Just don’t overmix the batter, which will cause the pancakes to be rubbery. Don’t worry about lumps—they’ll melt away as the pancakes cook.
For a crispy, evenly cooked platter of bacon, your best bet is to bake it. The constant temperature of the oven ensures it cooks evenly, crisping up in its own fat. Plus, you don’t have to stand over a skillet fussing with each strip, which frees up both you and your frying pan to whip up the rest of this feast.
Quick, gratifying, and satisfying, scrambled eggs are the perfect comfort food. Pre-season the eggs and fry them in butter for the best flavor. A splash of milk increases their creaminess. Prefer them even looser and creamier? Check out our recipes for soft-scrambled eggs and French-style, spoonable scrambled eggs instead.
Potatoes are the perfect side for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For this rendition, we shred the potatoes, then squeeze them to eliminate as much moisture as possible. To get an ultra-crispy texture, we cook them twice, first in the microwave, then in a hot pan.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
The beauty of French toast is that you can make it with fresh or stale bread. This deluxe version is lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. A caramel sugar sheen tops the custardy, milk- and egg-drenched slices in a just-right ratio.
It takes time to savor a cinnamon roll. You can take your time with this recipe, too. The tangy cream cheese frosting can be made a day ahead, as can the spiced filling. Even after you’ve assembled the rolls, they can stay in the refrigerator for 48 hours—which means that you can have fresh-baked rolls for two days straight.
No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream
Craving ice cream but don’t have an ice cream maker? You can make it with just a few ingredients and your stand mixer. Pre-whipping the cream and whipping the eggs into a dense foam ensures a rich but airy ice cream that firms up after a few hours in the freezer. It’s great in scoops on its own, or as a base for ice cream sundaes.
Editor's note: This article is part of a new series developed with A24 to celebrate the marriage of food and film during this period of self-isolation.