Have you sat in your room in the middle of the night watching a good old movie and find your stomach grumbling because of the glorious images on screen? It’s happened to us numerous times. As soon as Remy the Rat puts the finishing touches on his ratatouille we always find ourselves craving for the French summer dish. When Amy Adam’s Julie attempts to make Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon in Julie and Julia (2009), we can’t help but salivate. Writing this article is already giving this young foodie cold sweats and countless cravings, so let’s jump into it…we’ve put together a list of five good movies that don’t only feature fantastic storytelling, but has mouthwatering images of food to go with it.
Babette’s Feast (1987)
The 1987 Best Foreign Film Oscar winner from Denmark is one of the most profound films you’ll ever watch. It tells the story of Babette (Stephane Audran), a French immigrant living in a small Danish town by the sea. She fled from Paris during the French Revolution and came to live with Filippa (Bodil Kjer) and Martine (Birgitte Federspiel), the two elderly daughters of the town’s legendary pastor. Fourteen years later, Babette’s luck changes when she wins a considerable sum of money at the lottery. To thank the sisters, she decides to cook a fabulous feast featuring only the best of French cuisine. But to Filippa and Martin’s dismay (and strict, religious upbringing), they begin to feel as if they are partaking in sin. Although the plot may not suggest such a profound message, trust us, Babette’s Feast has more to offer. The film is filled with religious undertones and conflict. The main message: we must enjoy life or it will come to pass. Apart from a fantastic screenplay by Karen Blixen and masterful direction by Gabriel Axel, the film’s food imagery pops as well. Babette is a master of French cooking and her creations in the kitchen are titillating. Puff pastry covered in caviar, cheese platters, homemade turtle soup, and roasted quail are only a few things that she whips up in a tiny kitchen that will have you dreaming of that last visit to Paris.
Jon Favreau’s directorial debut Chef was a movie about self-discovery. He plays Carl Casper, a popular chef at a prestigious Los Angeles institution, who falls from the graces of the culinary scene after losing his cool in public as a result of a bad review. After some persuasion from his family and friends, he decided to go back to his roots, purchasing a food truck and creating authentic Cubanos in it. As he journeys across the United States (his business becomes wildy popular due to social media), he begins to re-discover his love for his craft, his absence from his son’s life, and how to become the person he’s always wanted to be. The film is filled with tons of food scenes that will make you dream of good, unpretentious cuisine. Our favorites: Carl making a grilled cheese in his home kitchen (all that cheesy, buttery goodness!) and a New Orleans food trip where he indulges on a puffy beignet covered in too much confectionary sugar!
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Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
Ang Lee’s Oscar-nominated Taiwanese masterpiece Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) tells the tale of Chu (Sihung Lung), an aging chef taking care of his three troubled 20-something daughters. The eldest, a school teacher (Yang Kuei-mei), is the family’s maternal figure and is afraid of ending up an old maid. His second daughter (Chien-lien Wu) is a rebellious airline executive who wildly resents him. Lastly, his youngest (Wang Yu-wen) works at a local Wendy’s and is playing with the heart of a naïve photography enthusiast. Every Sunday, Chu requires his daughters to eat at home for a large feast (que in the most delicious images of Taiwanese cuisine you’ll ever see on film) to talk about their trials and tribulations. What makes Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) so powerful is how food ties in to all their lives. There is the obvious, which is the traditional dinner at home and the father’s emotional distance due to his job as a celebrated chef. And there is the less obvious, in which Ang Lee and his co-screenwriters show us what the family is truly “hungry” for: love, sex, success, and happiness.
Julie & Julia (2009)
We’ll admit it, we dislike the Amy Adam’s scenes in this movie as much as the next guy. They feel so unimportant and it completely takes us away from the more interesting storyline: Julia Child (played by the legendary Meryl Streep to much perfection) discovering the culinary arts for the first time in Paris. But we must admit that those Julie scenes still have a silver lining. It gives the movie its best food moments and images, as the neurotic, mixed-up writer challenges herself to cook every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the first book by her idol Julia Child. From that de-boned duck covered in puff pastry, to that awfully delicious-looking Beef Bourguignon, it is more than enough to make our mouths drool and remain watching.
When Ratatouille (2007) first appeared in theaters it became one of the most acclaimed Disney films by critics, children, and adults. Today, it’s reputation is that of a masterwork of animated filmmaking. In addition, it is also responsible for majorly boosting the popularity of the French summer dish ratatouille to a global audience. Can you imagine animated food looking this delicious? The Disney flick caused hundreds of home cooks attempting to remake it in their kitchens (want proof, check out YouTube…I, myself, have tried it and miserably failed). The film also has a lot of heart in its central story, giving out a message that “everybody can cook!” We find our hero in a food-loving rat named Remy, who discovers he and his colony were living in Paris the whole time! He soon makes friends with a clumsy bus boy named Alfred Linguini who works at one of the city’s most prestigious restaurants, Guesteau’s. Together, they embark on a journey for the ages, where Remy cooks and Linguini is mistaken for being the master chef!
By Chino R. Hernandez