You’re caught in the web… of the Cider Woman!
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Originally published in 1976 as a novel, El beso de la mujer araña, Manuel Puig adapted his own work into a play, the English version of which was, in turn, adapted into an Academy Award-winning movie and, ultimately, the Tony Award-wining musical by Kander and Ebb.
Kiss of the Spider Woman is set in an Argentine prison where torture and deprivation are routine. The show focuses on two cellmates, Valentin, a Marxist revolutionary, and Molina, a homosexual imprisoned for allegedly molesting a minor. Molina attempts to break the bleakness of prison by recounting the films of his favourite film actress, the glamorous Aurora. However, the shadow of her most sinister role, the murderous Spider Woman, hangs over the prison, growing stronger as the cellmates’ relationship evolves from animosity to unrequited and, ultimately, physical love, manipulated by both Valentin and the police for their own purposes and leading to torture, betrayal and a deadly kiss from the Spider Woman.
In comparison with other Kander and Ebb hits, this show is a very different tale of…
murder, greed, corruption, and treachery all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts,
…to Chicago and has never entered the cultural zeitgeist in the same way as Cabaret, despite the awards and respectable runs on Broadway and the West End – however 20 years ago, Chicago was still considered only a modest commercial success, so perhaps the Morphine Tango may one day be as well known as it’s Cell Block counterpart!
Well, if you don’t need a comforting drink after that, you’re made of sterner stuff – but careful, the Cider Woman has a bite from the addition of chipotle chilli!
Note for US cider drinkers: in the U.K., cider is exclusively alcoholic – i.e. hard cider – and can be either sparkling or the more rustic cloudy kind, often known as scrumpy, which is ideal for this recipe.
Add a pint of scrumpy to a pan along with a cinnamon stick, a star anise, a slice of ginger, a chipotle chilli and maple syrup and heat slowly to a slight simmer – you don’t want it to boil and lose the booze! Taste periodically until the chilli kick is to your liking after which you can discard the chipotle. (If making larger quantities, one chilli may still be sufficient, just leave it in for longer. )Adjust the sweetness with more maple syrup if needed. Keep the cider on a low heat for about 20 minutes to allow the flavour to infuse.
When serving, top up the glass with a generous measure of sloe gin and enjoy the warm spicy glow!