I recently had a conversation about the all time greatest food related films. It got me thinking about the movies that inspired me to cook or caused me to think a little differently about cooking and food. So, I thought it would be interesting to jot down and few and get your take on what food related movies have inspired you.
Ratatouille – This 2007 Academy Award winner for best animated film stars Patton Oswald, Peter O’Toole, Jeannea Garafalo and Ian Holm, among others. I am a complete sucker for animated films. I cried at the end of Wall-E and I still cry every time I see Ratatouille. This is the story of Remy, played by Paton Oswald, a rat with an over-developed sense of taste living in the French countryside. He becomes enamored with food and cooking by watching the great French chef and restaurantuer Gusteau on the television of the old woman whose attic Remy and his large colony of rats inhabits. He experiments with food and cooking in secret and when the rat colony is forced to flee the old woman’s house, he gets separated from the rest of his colony and floats through the sewers to Paris on the old woman’s copy of Gusteau’s cookbook. Remy ends up in the kitchen of Gusteau’s famous restaurant and through a series of pretty unbelievable events, becomes the “little chef” to the bumbling son of the deceased Gusteau. Yes, its incredibly far fetched, but this is an animated movie. It’s not supposed to be real. The point is that this little rat blows away the most negative and hateful critic in Paris with his culinary ability and the underdog wins in the end. It is a lovely, warm and charming film that fueled my cooking mojo. You should check it out, its well worth your time.
Big Night – For many, this is the greatest food movie of all time. Stanley Tucci and Tony Shaloub are brothers who own a small, authentic Italian restaurant. Shaloub, the chef, is an exacting perfectionist, a food purist and complete pain in the arse. Even his customers are not safe from his scrutinizing, judgemental approach to his craft. Stanley Tucci is the businessman of the family and is desperately trying to keep the restaurant afloat in the face of empty tables and local competition. He devises a brilliant idea to invite the great singer Louis Prima to a special dinner to create a buzz in the neighborhood and drive in customers. In case you haven’t seen it, I won’t be a spoiler. The acting from both Shaloub and Tucci is brilliant and when you add Minnie Driver as Tucci’s girlfriend, you get a magical combination. The food preparation is far beyond your wildest expectations and it gave me a serious case of cooking envy. Foodies should not miss this film.
Like Water For Chocolate – This 1992 Mexican film is an adaptation of a novel whose chapters each begin with a recipe that corresponds to an event in the central character Tita’s life. Set just after the turn of the 20th century, Tita is the youngest of three sisters living on a ranch in Mexico with their domineering mother Mama Elena. Tita grows up in the kitchen and learns powerful an mystical cooking skills from the ranch’s cook. She is in love with Pedro, but the family tradition dictates that the youngest daughter must remain unmarried and spend her life taking care of her mother. When Pedro’s father asks Mama Elena to bless the union of Tita and Pedro, she refuses and offers the oldest sister, Rosaura, instead. Pedro marries Rosaura just so he can be close to Tita. Tita’s life is filled with bitter disappointments and deep sadness that she transfers to her cooking. Tita weeps while she is making Pedro and Rosaura’s wedding cake and the tears fall into the batter. When the wedding guests eat the cake, they are filled with sadness and meloncholy. Rosaura knows her husband is unattracted to her and she asks her sister to cook her something special to make her attractive Pedro. Unconsciously, Tita prepares something that gives Rosaura horrible halatosis, gas and bloating. When Pedro gives Tita a bouquet of roses, she uses them to make quails in rose petal sauce that arouses such heat and passion in the diners that the middle sister Gertrudis runs to the shower, which is consumer in flames, and she ends up riding off naked with a Mexican revolutionary. I wish I could transfer such magic to my cooking!!
I know there are many more wonderful food related films and I’m looking for your recommendations. What are your favorites?