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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S6 E13 "Spice Up Your Life"

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Spreading Friendship, Bollywood-Style!

"But it takes a true culinary artist to create a subtle taste, the barest hint of a sensation. That's what I bring to Canterlot. That's art!"
Zesty Gourmand

Written by Michael Vogel
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Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer, realizing that the crystal map in the castle hasn't worked since Starlight used it to travel through time, use a spell to get it working again. The map glows and reactivates, sending Rarity and Pinkie Pie to Canterlot to solve a friendship problem. Rarity, once there, says that they need to look for a friendship problem in culture, couture, or cuisine. Pinkie's stomach growls, so they go to Restaurant Row to find lunch.

While on Restaurant Row, Rarity looks for restaurants that specifically have a three-hoof rating from Zesty Gourmand, a noted food critic whose opinion carries a lot of weight. However, Pinkie finds all of the three-hoof rated restaurants to have bland food in small portions, in addition to looking very similar to one another. The two finally stumble upon a restaurant that is not rated called the Tasty Treat, staffed by Saffron Masala and her father Coriander Cumin. While Saffron is ecstatic to have guests, Coriander is expecting things to fail. When Rarity and Pinkie try the food, they instantly take a liking to it. The father and daughter argue quite a bit over the fact that their restaurant hasn't been rated by Zesty Gourmand, giving Rarity an idea to prepare the restaurant for the critic's approval. Rarity does manage to get Zesty to agree to show up, but only that evening. Pinkie Pie leaves with Saffron to attract ponies to the restaurant by telling her to be true to herself, while Rarity stays behind with Coriander to make it look similar to every other restaurant on Restaurant Row.

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Though Pinkie's success is limited, attracting only two ponies from Whinnyapolis, they were expecting the Tasty Treat to look different from every other restaurant. When they arrive, they find that Rarity has crafted the Tasty Treat into another fancy, small-portion restaurant to get Zesty Gourmand's approval. Both Zesty Gourmand and the two tourist ponies arrive, but a scuffle between Rarity and Pinkie leaves all three doused in their food instead of eating it. Zesty leaves in a huff, saying that Rarity knows only about clothes and nothing else, so her opinion carries no weight. Defeated, Rarity and Pinkie Pie apologize for ruining the Tasty Treat as Saffron brings everyone bowls of noodle soup. This prompts Coriander to remember the good times they used to have while cooking, reinvigorating his drive. Rarity then realizes that she and Pinkie were doing the wrong jobs; Rarity uses her knowledge of Canterlot's elite life to attract ponies to the Tasty Treat while Pinkie puts the decor back as it was. Zesty Gourmand shows back up, shocked to find the restaurant now packed with happy customers, and cannot believe that they would eat there even though it has no rating. Rarity counters that while Zesty is entitled to her opinion, it's not going to cover every restaurant, and that her tastes shouldn't define how every restaurant acts, causing Zesty once more to leave in a huff. Saffron and Coriander thank Rarity and Pinkie for bringing them together again, causing their cutie marks to glow, indicating they solved the problem.

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Tropes:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    • "Culture, couture, cuisine."
    • Coriander and Saffron's restaurant is named the "Tasty Treat".
    • Not to mention having the Alliterative Name "Coriander Cumin".
  • An Aesop: "Don't let one opinion dictate how you view things, try things yourself and form your own". Or alternatively, "while imitating others can lead to short-term gain, it's playing to your strengths that truly makes an impression on others."
  • Aesop Amnesia: Rarity, though justifiably so. Believing that the solution to the Tasty Treat's success is a three-hoof rating from Zesty, Rarity forgoes all the Be Yourself lessons she learned in the past five seasons and conforms to Zesty's standards.
  • Alpha Bitch: Zesty Gourmand; she uses her position as a high-ranking food critic to impose her will on the restaurants of Canterlot, and threatens to use her status to discredit any restaurant that doesn't meet her exact standards.
  • Anything but That!: Pinkie Pie's response when she sees Coriander has made a platter of nouvelle cuisine that is nearly identical to the ones she and Rarity hated at all the three-hoof rated restaurants.
  • As You Know: The episode itself begins with Twilight and Spike delivering exposition, starting with: "As you've all probably noticed..."
  • Be Yourself: Rarity tries to get the Tasty Treat to be like the other restaurants in the city. But, when a mishap causes Zesty to leave without even trying the food, Pinkie and she work out that the restaurant was fine as it is because it wasn't like the others and thus offered variety.
  • Big Eater: Pinkie, as usual, which is why they find the Tasty Treat at all: the small bland portions at the other restaurants are unappetizing to her.
  • Brick Joke: When Saffron and Coriander are recalling how they used to cook food, Coriander mentions how Saffron would hide the ingredients she didn't like. Later, during the montage sequence with the two cooking together, you can see Saffron has hidden a container of spices from Coriander.
  • Call-Back: This episode features the return of the Cutie Map missions, which haven't been done since "The Hooffields and McColts". Justified by Twilight saying the Map itself was no longer working after stopping Starlight's time travel shenanigans.
  • Caustic Critic: Zesty Gourmand has very strict ideas of what constitutes a good restaurant, and virtually all the eateries on Restaurant Row have become carbon copies of one another in an attempt to earn her approval. Even at the end, seeing all the ponies that like the restaurant, she won't even give it an honest chance.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Contrived Coincidence: Rarity and Pinkie Pie end up where the map called them due to Pinkie's stomach and sense of smell.
  • Control Freak: Zesty, who has taken control of Canterlot's restaurant business and made them all clones of each other to suit herself.
  • Critical Dissonance: In-Universe. Two of the guests at the Tasty Treat's re-reopening have eateries on Restaurant Row that earned three-hoof ratings from Zesty Gourmand and decide to start cooking food that they like after trying some of the food at the Tasty Treat, while Zesty refuses to give the Tasty Treat a rating despite how much the guests enjoy the food. Even before entering the Tasty Treat, Pinkie Pie becomes more excited about its food specifically because it hasn't been rated.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Early on, Pinkie Pie comes up with the correct solution to saving the Tasty Treat — encouraging the restaurant to embrace its unique tastes — but she lacks the same persuasive influence needed to get others to even consider giving it a chance.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: While searching for a place to eat at, Pinkie and Rarity try several different restaurants. Their interiors differ only in what shade of gray they are and the shape in the picture on the wall because that's what Zesty wants. Even the waiters have the same body and mustache styles with similar subdued coat colors.
  • The Cynic: Coriander Cumin is constantly talking about how he expects his business to fail.
    Coriander Cumin: Welcome to the Tasty Treat. You can eat here if you want. Or not. Who cares?
  • Distant Duet: The "It's Gonna Work" song is this as Pinkie and Rarity try to convince Saffron and Coriander of their methods as they go about their task separate from each other. Ends up turning into Two Scenes, One Dialogue as Pinkie tries to convince Saffon the restaurant is fine as is and they just need other ponies to see its uniqueness, while Rarity tries to convince Coriander that they need to change the place to match the other three-hoof restaurants' style.
  • Dude Magnet: Rarity very easily attracts two stallions as potential customers.
  • Expy: Zesty Gourmand is a Gender Flipped expy of Anton Ego from Ratatouille. However, while Ego was ultimately a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who actually did end up giving that movie's main restaurant a chance, Zesty remains a stubborn Jerkass who refuses to even consider it — even in front of an entire crowd of restaurant-goers who feel otherwise.
  • Family Business: In the shape of a father-and-daughter-operated restaurant. As is common for the trope, it's fallen on financial hard times.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Coriander and his daughter Saffron are based on Indian people. They even have a Bollywood number!
  • Follow Your Nose: Pinkie finds the Tasty Treat by following the scent of the restaurant's spices.
  • Foreshadowing: An early scene with Pinky and Rarity eating at a series of identical restaurants with identical entrees and identical waiters is a hint to Zesty's power over the restaurant industry in Canterlot.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: A rare episode that pairs up Pinkie Pie and Rarity with each other.
  • Gratuitous French: Rarity's "Culture, couture, cuisine." Nothing new coming from her.
  • Group Hug: Pinkie Pie specifically calls for one after Saffron and Coriander thanks her and Rarity, and they're about to re-re-open the Tasty Treat.
  • Growling Gut: When Rarity gives Pinkie Pie a choice between "Culture, couture, cuisine...", Pinkie's belly answers for her by growling loudly.
  • Haute Cuisine Is Weird: Rarity and Pinkie go to the upperclass city of Canterlot to fix a friendship problem. It turns out a father and daughter duo of Indian inspired ponies are fighting because their restaurant is unpopular. Nopony visits because it hasn't been rated yet, and the local Caustic Critic dislikes it because the food is nonconformist compared to other restaurants in the area (who are all identical). Pinkie and Rarity, however, find the other restaurants displeasing due to their small proportions and bland tasting food.
  • He Panned It, Now He Sucks!: In-Universe. Rarity loses respect for Zesty Gourmand as a restaurant reviewer because Zesty refuses to consider rating the Tasty Treat, and warns Zesty that she may lose her reputation altogether if she ignores such a newly-popular restaurant as the Tasty Treat.
  • Hypocrite: Zesty Gourmand has shades of this; when told that the Tasty Treat is actually highly recommended by Rarity, she immediately shuts that down by saying that Rarity can tell you what to wear and when, so she isn't qualified to tell you what or where to eat! Never mind the fact that this is exactly what Zesty does (and has done) to the restaurant businesses in Canterlot. Rarity immediately calls her out on this hypocrisy.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Pinkie Pie gets super excited when the Map finally works and her excitement builds up further as she speculates who the Map will choose and what mysterious lands they'll get to explore. Then, Rarity begins to gush over having being chosen to visit Canterlot. The rest of the ponies don't share her enthusiasm.
    Pinkie Pie: You know, some ponies get excited over the silliest things.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: All over the place with the song "It's Gonna Work" (which, being a Distant Duet, has lots of transitions). A painter pony "painting" the screen with the next scene, Pinkie's arrow sign and restaurant menus crossing it several times, drapes, the Split Screen opening up, etc.
  • Instant Cosplay Surprise: Rarity lowers a curtain over Coriander Cumin to change him into a waiter outfit nearly instantly, and he gasps in shock.
  • Ironic Echo: Zesty Gourmand tells Rarity that recommending a disreputable restaurant could "do serious damage to [her] social standing." Later, Rarity tells her that ignoring a unique restaurant that doesn't conform to her specific tastes could "do serious damage to [her] social standing."
  • Ironic Name: Zesty Gourmand prefers her food bland in as small quantities as possible.
  • Irony: Rarity is highly aversive to blandness and sameness in clothing and fashion, as seen in "The Cutie Map – Part 1", "Canterlot Boutique" and "Made in Manehattan", but apparently not as averse to blandness and sameness in food and cuisine. She recommends dining only at restaurants with a three-hoof rating and remodels the Tasty Treat to look exactly like the other establishments on Restaurant Row. Fortunately, Rarity no longer agrees with Zesty Gourmand's preference of blandness and sameness in food and cuisine at the end of the episode.
  • It's All About Me: Zesty Gourmand thinks that her (and only her) opinion is valid, even when many other ponies think that a restaurant is good. This has actually caused Restaurant Row to become a frankly terrible place to eat, as none of the restaurant owners enjoy cooking and every restaurant is the same because that's what she likes while she doesn't give anything else a chance.
  • Jabba Table Manners: Pinkie eats everything by slamming her face down on the plate and chewing loudly. Then again, this is Pinkie Pie.
  • Jerkass: She may be a critic, but there is no excuse for Zesty to make fun of the tourists for liking the food. Even moreso for seeing the place actually have customers, instantly bust in and chiding the ponies there who actually did try and like the food because they didn't follow her opinion. When confronted by an entire restaurant full of ponies who feel that Zesty just needs to mellow out, does she finally give the Tasty Treat a chance? No, she just invokes Screw This, I'm Outta Here! in a huff instead, refusing to even give their opinions the time of day.
  • Jerkass Ball: Twilight's old friends, Minuette, Lemon Hearts and Twinkleshine are just as uninterested in the Tasty Treat as the rest of the Canterlot ponies until Rarity endorses it towards the end. This is even after it is established that Minuette and Pinkie Pie are friends, making her refusal seem arbitrary.
  • Juxtaposed Halves Shot: During the Distant Duet, the split screen ends up used to show Rarity's and Pinkie's half-faces split in the middle, followed by Coriander's and Saffron's.
  • Kirk Summation: Rarity and Pinkie Pie call out Zesty when she see the business at the Tasty Treat picking up and once more badmouthing the establishment and food. Citing that while she's free to have her own opinion, that doesn't mean everyone else has to follow it.
  • Loud Gulp: Rarity lets out an audible gulp, with throat bulging, when Zesty Gourmand shows up at the Tasty Treat.
  • Meaningful Name: Both Coriander Cumin and Saffron Masala have names related to typical Indian spices, appropriate for a Fantasy Counterpart Culture Indian restaurant.
  • Minnesota Nice: Chargrill Breadwinner and Orange Slice, the couple from Whinneyapolis, are very friendly and open to try new food.
  • Missing Mom: Saffron Masala's mother is nowhere to be found, nor is she mentioned by Saffron or her father.
  • Never Live It Down: In-universe, Starlight is clearly embarrassed when Spike brings up her time-travel escapade and breaking of the map.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Rarity and Pinkie's clashing ideas for how they should save the Tasty Treat nearly put the restaurant out of business for good instead.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Among the dining ponies at the end of the episode are ponified versions of Gordon Ramsay, Cat Cora, Julia Child, Art Ginsburg (a.k.a. Mr. Food), Jamie Oliver and Rachael Ray. The first stallion chef that comments about reverting his menu is a ponified Massimo Bottura, and the mare chef is a ponified Clarissa Dickson Wright (of Two Fat Ladies).
  • Palette Swap: The first three restaurants Rarity and Pinkie try are this of each other — they're completely identical down to the waiters, just with different color palettes.
  • Pastiche: "It's Gonna Work" is done in a Bollywood style, as appropriate for an episode with a Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of an Indian restaurant.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Rarity and Pinkie may have saved the restaurant, but can't really sway Zesty to change her opinion.
    • Rarity points out that refusing to even try the Tasty Treat's food after it's become so popular will cause serious damage to Zesty's social standing.
  • Reviews Are the Gospel: In-Universe, and used with food, instead of video games. Zesty Gourmand's tastes (bland cakes served in thimble sized portions) become a fad, and if a restaurant doesn't have her seal of approval, it's not a fit place to eat at. Somehow.
  • Rule of Three:
    • Pinkie gives up on Rarity's idea of a good restaurant after they visit three places in a row that are carbon copies of one another.
    • When Rarity gets her epiphany over how to really make the Tasty Treat a success after her initial Aesop Amnesia, every one of her points has Pinkie saying "That's true/double true/true times three", respectively.
    • Zesty's maximum approval rating is three hooves.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Coriander is quite reminiscent of Babu Bhatt from Seinfeld, a failed restaurateur from Pakistan.
    • Zesty Gourmand's three-hoof rating system is similar to the three-star system in the Michelin Guide.
  • Shown Their Work: The Tasty Treat's dishes seen on-screen are based on real-life Indian cuisine.
  • Split Screen: Used liberally during the Bollywood-styled Distant Duet to show Rarity and Coriander on one side, mirrored by Pinkie and Saffron on the other.
  • Straw Critic: Zesty Gourmand is a near-perfect example. Acts as a Control Freak, throws her weight around to crush anything that doesn't meet her standards, imperious, and all-around unpleasant.
  • Tastes Like Purple: Chargrill says that the bland food served at Restaurant Row "tastes like somepony cooked up nothing, with a side of nothing".
  • Tempting Fate: It's hard to imagine things working out very well when the title of the song is "It's Gonna Work". Indeed, both Rarity and Pinkie Pie are failures.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: Zig-zagged. Rarity and Pinkie Pie realize they're the right ponies for this Friendship Mission because the Magnetic Plot Device called them, but it takes them a while to realize they need to swap roles.
    Rarity: Pinkie! We are the perfect team for this; we were just doing the wrong jobs.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Pinkie and Rarity both call each other out when they find out the other did nothing to help the restaurant like they thought they would: Rarity for changing the atmosphere to match every other restaurant, and Pinkie for failing to convince anyone to come.

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