With The Taste of Things the latest film to depict a cinematic love of gastronomy, here are some more examples of foodie films that will please your palate
You don't go to the cinema for fine dining, at least not unless you count sticky popcorn, fizzy pop and undercooked hot-dogs as haute cuisine.
But the films shown on the big screen are more discerning: the new film The Taste of Things is only the latest entry in the long history of cinematic gastronomy, with Juliette Binoche giving the kitchen a proper workout.
To whet your appetite for it, here's a tasting menu of other foodie films, a veritable banquet of mouth-watering movies. Just make sure you've had a bite to eat before watching them, though because they could be torture on an empty stomach...
There are many films about chefs but they're rarely as joyful as this Pixar masterpiece, a film that delights in food as few others.
Because it's animation, it can take liberties that live action films can't—the brains behind this culinary extravaganza is a, er, rat. In real life, stringent food hygiene rules exist to keep these notoriously dirty animals away from professional kitchens, and a good thing too: their lack of opposable thumbs would prevent them even from holding a saucepan, let alone cooking with it.
Julie and Julia
No one did more for the American palette than Julia Child, introducing millions to French cookery through her pioneering TV show. Her work later inspired Julie Powell, who blogged about her efforts to cook her way through Child's recipes. This film tells the story of them both, with Amy Adams as Powell and Meryl Street as Child. It's very good, but what we really want is a film about our Delia.
Now, fair enough, the Mafia are more famous for organised crime than for cooking but, as these films show, "wise guys" are expected to know their way around an oven. Both films are full of helpful tips—how to do the catering during a mob war, for instance, or the best way to prepare food in prison: the stuff Home Economics teachers too often forget.
An ode to the sensual power of food, Babette's Feast plays out in an austere 19th century Danish village where a French refugee lives in exile. As it happens, she's a dab hand in the kitchen and, when she receives an unexpected windfall, she lays on a slap-up feed, treating her friends to the best meal they'll ever have; one they'll remember forever.
Now a foodie icon thanks to his TV show about Italian food, Stanley Tucci has long been a gourmet. Big Night, which he directed, is set in an Italian restaurant on the verge of collapse, but the food is almost as important as the drama. He delights in showing off the menu, never more so than the timpano, the glorious drum-shaped pasta dish that is the house speciality.
La Grain Et Le Mulet
Also known as “Couscous”, which gives the game away; it's partly about the immigrant experience in France and partly about North African cooking; it thinks nothing of pausing for long periods to show couscous being prepared. This is done with such love that you want to reach into the screen and help yourself.
No delivery service is perfect and The Lunchbox is about when things go wrong—a woman discovers that the titular receptacle (known as a dabba) she prepares for her husband is being delivered to someone else, someone who appreciates it more than her hubby, and who writes charming notes in return. A charming love story for the Deliveroo generation, The Lunchbox is much more appetising than a “meal deal”.
The Truffle Hunters
Truffles are the ultimate in posh nosh, as this documentary about the truffle economy shows. At the top are those who eat them, at vast expense; at the bottom, the men who go into damp woods in northern Italy to find the elusive fungi, a rare skill that few possess. And between them, the various middle-men that jack the price up at every turn.
This film doesn't seem to have been funded by the Restaurant Association of Japan but, honestly, they could ask for no better advertisement: if you're not craving ramen by the end of it then something's gone badly wrong. As simple and straightforward as the noodle-based dishes it champions, and every bit as moreish.
Spare a thought for the poor high-end chef; training for years, building a reputation—and destined to cater for wealthy philistines who don't appreciate your art. One of these disgruntled restaurateurs is Julian Slowik, played by Ralph Fiennes; he's the proprietor of an elite, island-based restaurant who—well, that would be telling, but it's grimly amusing to those of us with more basic tastes. Put it this way, his guests will wish they'd stuck to the cheeseburger.
Banner photo: The Menu (Searchlight Pictures)
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