A great mystery lingers at the heart of "Silver Linings Playbook." The mystery isn't whether Pat Solitano, played by Oscar-nominated Bradley Cooper, will ever find mental health.
Nor is it whether Pat will get back with his ex, fall for the dancing girl down the street (Jennifer Lawrence, also Oscar-nominated), or reconcile with his Eagles-worshipping, OCD-suffering, gambler dad (Robert De Niro, another Oscar nominee).
The riddle at the center of this flick, the conundrum that's confounded viewers nationwide, is: What in the Rocky Balboa are "crabby snacks and homemades"?
Throughout the movie, Pat's mom, Dolores (Jacki Weaver, up for an Oscar, naturally) proudly prepares these items for her husband to eat while he watches Birds games. She delivers them on trays.
Clearly, they're party fare. Finger food. But on-screen, they're hard to identify. In one scene, Pat's pal Danny (Chris Tucker; sadly, no Oscar nominee) watches Dolores make braciola. Could that be the "homemades"? Or are homemades any ole mom-made treat?
And are crabby snacks crab fries?
To find out, the People Paper went straight to the sources.
Long before Hollywood descended on Upper Darby to make the movie, Philadelphia-born, South Jersey-bred writer Matthew Quick wrote about crabby snacks in the best-selling novel that inspired the film.
To make crabby snacks, said Quick, you "take crabmeat from a can" and "orange cheese that comes in a jar," then "melt it up in a saucepan, put it in a bag, let it sit there. Take English muffins, half them and then quarter them, and you cover them with this delicious mixture."
Could he be more precise?
"I rely on my mom to make them," he admitted. "I probably could make them if I tried, but it tastes better when my mom makes them."
Doreen Quick, a Haddonfield resident, mother of three grown kids (including Matt) and wife of a rabid Birds fan named Mike Quick (but not that Mike Quick), said her pal Barbara Becker, a Gwynedd Valley resident, gave her the recipe 30 years ago. Becker picked it up off the back of a jar of Kraft Old English Cheese.
"The original recipe was Old English Crab Hors d'Oeuvres," recalled Quick. "We called them Crab Bites. Matthew picked up 'crabby snacks.' People may know them by other names."
The recipe calls for that cheese spread, English muffins, butter, mayo and garlic powder. She described crabby snacks as "easy, uncomplicated and delicious."
They might be simple, but among the Quick family, they're a huge success. "Again and again, they're what my kids want any holiday -- Fourth of July, Christmas, whatever," she said. She used to make them during Birds broadcasts, but now the kids watch away games at their own homes -- and home games at the Linc.
Doreen and Mike Quick plan to nosh the apps at home Sunday while they watch the Oscars ("SLP" is up for eight, including best picture). She joked, "I have new respect for my crabby snacks, now that they've gone Hollywood."
As for the other half of the edible mystery, director David O. Russell cribbed "homemades" from Anne Cappelletti, an 86-year-old resident of the block in Upper Darby where the movie was shot.
Cappelletti, a South Philly native, was an extra in one scene (as were two of her 12 grandkids). Her house makes an appearance, too (it's the one with the concrete lions out front). And she made a big Italian dinner for 25 film-crew members during the shoot.
She's also the mother of John Cappelletti, the famed Penn State running back whose 1973 Heisman acceptance speech inspired the TV movie "Something for Joey." The 1977 movie was about the Cappelletti family, especially John and his biggest fan -- his kid brother, Joseph, who died of leukemia.
When asked about homemades, Mrs. Cappelletti said, "I thought everybody knew it was homemade spaghetti. What else would they be? Homemade what?"
For the spaghetti, she mixes eggs (one per person), white flour and "a little bit of water." She hand-cranks the dough through a pasta machine.
For the sauce, she adds sausage, homemade braciola and meatballs to her tomato gravy. The whole process takes about an hour or two, provided she's premade the meatballs.
Mrs. Cappelletti said she probably won't make homemades on Oscar night, unless she happens to have company coming over for Sunday supper. But she does have a prediction: "Bradley Cooper is gonna win. I think he will. He will. He was great."