Along with cooking food and enjoying food and sharing food, we love watching movies about food, cooking or eating. With the Oscars just behind us I thought it would be fun to share our favs in this tasty genre. Now there are a lot of movies that have great food moments, like the restaurant scene in When Harry met Sally or Tom Hanks in BIG eating that tiny ear of corn like you would a regular ear, but our list is about movies whose main theme revolves around food or eating. Hopefully there is a new one in here that you might want to try or like me you’re saying, “Hey that was a great movie, let’s watch it again.” So while you are working on our second round of puzzles (a few guesses have come in), check out these great flicks.
First of all we couldn’t agree on our top film so we have two at the top.
1a. Big Night (1996) Jeanne’s pick
In order to save their failing Italian restaurant two brothers, Primo (Stanley Tucci) and Segundo (Tony Shalhoub) gamble on one special night with a feast for a special person. The food, the kitchen scenes and the relationship between the brothers are wonderful. One of the dishes they prepare is a Timpano, which my son actually attempted with a friend. But the best scene is at the end where Primo makes an omelet. This was shot in one long take, hardly a word is spoken (and those are in Italian) but it says volumes. I dare you to have dry eyes at the end.
1b. Tampopo (1985) Curt’s pick
A truck driver (Ken Watanabe) stops at a small family noodle shop run by Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto). He decides to stay to help the fledgling business get off the ground. The promo ads called this “the first Japanese noodle western.” Mr. Watanabe wearing a cowboy hat does ride into town and it’s all about the noodles and broth so I think the tagline got it right. Best scene: The Ramen Master teaches a young apprentice the correct way to eat a bowl of ramen. Tampopo tries to achieve the perfection that would satisfy a master. You’ll never look at “noodle soup” the same after this.
Don’t worry about the sudden jump about half of the way through the clip to two guys in a truck. They are Watanabe and his helper, who is reading this story about eating ramen to him.
2. Babette’s Feast (1987)
This one came in third, er’ second, on our list. After 14 years serving as the housekeeper and cook for the sisters of a small dwindling religious sect in a remote village in Denmark, Babette, after winning lottery money, decides to prepare a feast (a real French dinner) honoring the 100th birthday of the sect’s founder (and father of the sisters.) The women agree and invite the few members left in the congregation. The dinner is sumptuous and the women fear enjoying such a sensual pleasure would be a sin so after talking to the congregation they agree to forego speaking of any pleasure in it, and to make no mention of the food during the meal. Little do they know that Babette was a famous former chef. As the dinner progresses the austere dining room previously shown mainly in whites and grays, gradually picks up more and more colors, focusing on the various and delectable dishes. Babette spends all her winnings on this meal but states, “An artist is never poor.” I think I need to see this again, soon.
Now, our Honorable Mentions. All are worth seeing, but be warned, some are definitely darker than others.
3. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (1994)
Directed by Ang Li (He just won the Best Director Oscar for Life of Pi), this film tells the story of a semi-retired and widowed Chinese master chef at the Taipei Grand Hotel. The film inspired the 2001 remake Tortilla Soup, set in a Mexican-American family. Another very good food film.
4. Ramen Girl (2008)
Another tale about creating the perfect ramen soup. The movie stars the late Brittany Murphy and when we first started watching we thought it was going to be a fluff of a movie but it turned out to be quite enjoyable. Ramen Girl is sort of like Karate Kid for once she convinces the noodle chef she is serious about learning to cook he starts her out scrubbing the pots and pans and cleaning the toilet. stubbornness, frustration and finally patience combine in her eventual success as a noodle chef.
5. Like Water for Chocolate (1992)
The book this is based on is written in the style of magical realism so be ready to suspend your disbelief. All the emotion the main character Tita experiences when she cooks are manifested in those who eat her dishes. A passionate film.
6. Eating Raoul (1982)
Pretty dark story about murder and cooking and eating the evidence. Enough said.
7. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)
If you aren’t familiar with Peter Greenway then you might want to stay away from this one, it certainly is the darkest and most depraved of the bunch. Described as a romantic crime drama, the movie has some pretty violent, scatological and nude scenes that may put off the ordinary viewer. Food and eating is decadent, sensual, over-indulgent and used as a weapon. The movie is graphic in many ways and the cinematography is pretty amazing. But viewer beware. Send the kids to the neighbors when you watch.
WHOA! After that last movie I feel obligated to list one for the kiddies but a lot of fun for adults.
Best animated food movie: Rataoullie (2007)
The story of Remy, a rat, who dreams of becoming a chef. To achieve his goal he forms an alliance with the restaurant’s cleanup boy who also aspires to be a chef. Delightful, and the kitchen scenes are wonderful.
What movie would you add to our list?