Top 5 – Food-centric Films

Before I go into my Top 5 this week I wanted to thank two blogs who have recognised mine in recent weeks.  So to Veggiegobbler I say a very big thank you for the Sunshine Award and to The Good Life an equally big thank you for the Lovely Blog award.  Whilst I am not going to properly accept them with ‘interesting things about you’ lists or pass the awards* on I would like to recommend both VeggieGobbler and The Good Life to you as great blogs to read.

VeggieGobbler writes from Melbourne, often about her garden, usually about her family, mostly about whatever takes her fancy that week but always entertainingly.

The Good life is on the other side of the world in (not always…) sunny England.  Her blog is a record of what she is growing and how it is doing.  It’s is dry humoured, to the point and reminds me of England – which strangely, given I’m Australian, is a very good thing.

*If anyone is interested why no lists and awards.  The first part is simple – I couldn’t really think of much that anyone would be interested in.  The main reason though is the awards part.  I could pretend its because I’ve done some mathematical calculation and worked out that if everyone passed on these awards then after a week of 15 blogs passing on 15 awards there would be close to 1,000,000 blogs awarded (incidentally I haven’t actually calculated this but if someone would do it for me that would be lovely).   The real truth though is that I have a mortal fear of upsetting people.  I just can’t come up with a list of only 5 (or indeed 15) blogs and not think about people reading it and wondering they they weren’t included…its the sort of thing that leads to sleepless nights and I am a girl who needs her sleep.  It’s also the sort of fear that leads to my daughter inviting her entire Prep class to her birthday party and me now having to work out how to entertain close to 30 kids.   Arrrgh.

So after all that on to this weeks Top 5:

I’ve been trying to write this post for quite sometime now.  I had big plans to see as many food oriented films as humanly possible and then condense it down to a top 5.  Great in theory, in practice though locating a copy of the Milagro Beanfield War at the local library has proved difficult.  So here are five interesting food – centric films (not including the fondly remembered but not recently watched Robert Redford directed classic(?) mentioned above).  I have tried to give only pretty basic information about the films here as there is little that irritates me more than film reviews or film writing that gives away the entire plot.  If only all film reviewers could be as marvellous as Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo  sigh…

Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate) – I loved the book. I love the film.  Set in rural Mexico around 1910 the film tells the story of Tita the daughter of a conservative matriarch.  Tita, who is raised in the most part by the family cook and takes on much of the domestic functioning of the house, pours all the emotion of her, at times tragic, life into her cooking.  This film is part historical epic, part magic realist fantasy.  It is beautiful, interesting and engaging and the food sounds wonderful.  Quail with rose petal sauce anyone?  Funnily enough when this film first came out in Melbourne during the early 1990’s there was a restaurant close to one of the screening cinemas that put the dish on its menu.   I reckon it would have done quite well.

Tampopo – Soup first or noodles first?  How should one eat a bowl of noodle soup?  The basic pretext of this movie is the search for the perfect bowl of Japanese noodles.  Or is it?  Perhaps its just a comic Japanese Western?  Or maybe an intelligent art film exploring the Western obsession with food?  Or perhaps something else entirely.  Whichever it is though you get to see a lot of noodles and that is never a bad thing.  I think this is probably my all time favourite film about food….a few scenes aside…..

Eat Drink Man Woman (Yin shi nan nu)I love Ang Lee films, I loved Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, I loved the Ice Storm,  I thought Sense and Sensibility was perfect and I even considered going to see the Hulk.  Clearly I’m something of a devotee, so its not surprising that I have included an Ang Lee film on this list especially as there are two I could have possibly put in (The Wedding Banquet being the other possibility).  Eat Drink Man Woman tells the story of a master chef trying to communicate with his adult daughters usually via food – and fabulous food at that.

Babette’s Feast (Babettes Gæstebud)-  A beautiful, beautiful film set in 19th century Denmark.  Babette herself is a refugee from Paris who seeks shelter in a highly religious coastal community.  Beyond that I am struggling to convey much about this film without giving away the plot.  It is interesting though to compare the role of food across the films in this list, where in Like Water for Chocolate is it sensual and it Eat Drink Man Woman it is an expression of love here, it is different – seeking a higher purpose or plane, contrasting with the austerity of the environment and the conservatism of the community.

The Lemon Tree (Etz Limon) – I wanted to include a film that looks at the politics of food and farming in some way.  Set in the West Bank, The Lemon Tree is that film.  As much as this film is about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and the nature of power more generally , it is also about the lives of 2 women, one Palestinian, one Israeli and a lemon grove which provides a concrete expression of their own personal dissatisfaction with their lives.

That was my Top 5, or at least 5 interesting films with food at their core, my top 5 might be different tomorrow – I can be quite fickle when it comes to films, having said  that Casablanca has been my favourite film for as long as I can remember although I do have one criticism of it – not enough food.

Interestingly none of these films are in English and try as I might I have to admit struggling to come up with a film that I really, really enjoyed highlighting food that was in English.  Perhaps I just haven’t seen it yet.  Recommendations?

Over at the New Good Life this weeks Top 5 is…..well I’m not sure yet but I’m sure it will be good.

This entry was posted in Top 5. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Top 5 – Food-centric Films

  1. Liz says:

    I did the calculation mentioned above and I got close to 170 million. Is that right?

  2. Sarah says:

    Like water for chocolate is one of my favourite movies – one I can watch over and over again. Have you seen ‘Big Night’? It’s set around an Italian restaurant in New York – great movie, it could be the one in English that you’re looking for!

  3. I also tried the calculation and I got 170,859,375.
    It’s amazing what you come up with for your 5 Liz this list shows your cultured side.

    • Liz says:

      That is an awfully big number, and thankyou for both doing to multiplication and considering me cultured – it must have been my sojourn in England that brought it out…he he he

  4. Louise says:

    Great post! I’m not one for maths, so I believe you all! Whatever the number, it is big.

    Love your Top 5 this week, but I can honestly say that if I had to pick from the 5 , it would easily be Babette’s Feast. The others are of course also fab, but there is something about Babette that gets me right in the heart. It’s her challenging of those lovely old Danish ladies’ conservatism (in a very gentle and generous way) that is so lovely! But it is fair to say that there are simply not enough films about food, or gardens for that matter!

    I do remember loving a very old B&W film called ‘the Secret Garden’ when young, but don’t think I have seen it for 30 years at least! I’d love to see it again.

    • Liz says:

      I think that most of those films were from much the same era – ie the 1990s when I got to go to the cinema but also there seemed to be something of a trend for making films about food. I too loved the Secret Garden – although I remember it as a TV show, maybe both from the same source story?

  5. Jo says:

    I haven’t seen any of those films, but a foodie film I did enjoy was Julie and Julia. It even has blogging in it too. Incidentally, both my son and daughter used to invite their whole class and more besides to their parties. Thank goodness they’re too old for parties now.

    • Liz says:

      I can’t say I’m really looking forward to her party but she’s so excited that its impossible to say no. I wanted to see Julia and Julia very much, I will have to look for the DVD as the kids pretty much rule out going to the cinema most of the time.

  6. Barbara Good says:

    Wow, now I have a nice list of films to check out at the library next week. I would add that I quite enjoyed Mostly Martha – a German film – though not in the least political.

  7. Lrong says:

    Hi Liz… to be honest, I have not seen any of the films you mentioned… the films I am enjoying these days are comedies as I need the laughter… :=)
    Also, interesting about the calculations you and some of your readers made… sometimes, it is hard to decline these awards as we do not want to risk ‘offending’ the presenter… it is somewhat like a ‘no-win’ situation….

  8. Nina says:

    Interesting post! I’ve not seen any of these films. In fact, I see very few films at all these days – much to my daughter’s puzzlement as she is (was) majoring in Cinema Studies and they are a passion.

    I have a long list of things I will do once my working hours reduce or come to an end. Watch more films, read lots, take up patchwork again, relax, start a blog and GROW MORE VEGGIES! One day…

  9. Love your list, and agree with Sarah — I’m always on the lookout for an occasion to make the timpano from “The Big Night”!

  10. Mary says:

    Oh, I love Babette’s Feast. One of my all-time favorites!

  11. Ambra says:

    Great list – I especially loved The Lemon Tree (saw it a few years ago). I blog from Sydney at ‘The Good the Bad and the Italian’ and I sometimes focus on films that have a food ‘quirk’ in them. My latest post looks at the origins of the ‘La Gina’ brand of canned tomatoes: hint (it involves Gina Lollobrigida). Hope you enjoy it.

Leave a Reply to Mary Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *