Food Films to Fascinate
I love food. I love making it, reading about it, and even watching about it. And no, I’m not talking about the Food Network (not really my favorite, to be honest), I’m talking about films. And there seem to be a lot of new food films out there. Here are just a few I’d like to see:
And here are a few I’ve already seen, and would recommend:
My Father’s Garden – This is an oldie, but a goodie. I saw it first on Link TV (which you get if you have Dish Network). It’s actually a very interesting documentary which compares (kind of) the filmmaker’s father’s orange groves of the ’50s and ’60s and an organic farmer in North Dakota (yay!) in the early ’90s.
Broken Limbs – A very interesting take on the apple industry and how small orchards are struggling to survive.
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil – This one gets a little unfocused at the end, but is an interesting look into how Cuba coped with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of cheap imported oil from that nation. Talks a lot about small-scale organic and sustainable ag (cheaper than using petro-based chemical applications). I actually own this one. I bought it for $5 from a local video store selling used DVDs.
The Real Dirt on Farmer John – This one is a little weird. It’s about an inheritance farmer who is a little kooky (he likes to dress up, sometimes in women’s clothing) and at one point had a lot of hippies on board. In Iowa. Now the farm is a CSA and it’s about the story of the farm and John’s interaction with the land and the community.
Okay, now for my favorite food movies that aren’t documentaries.
Chocolat – A traveling woman and her daughter appear one day in a tiny rural French town with rigid rules of conduct and proceed to flaut every one, particularly by opening a chocolate shop – a chocolaterie – in the middle of fast-ridden Lent. A traveling band of river gypsies help turn the town on its head and Vianne (played by Juliette Binoche) gets help stirring things up. This is quite possibly my favorite movie ever and I far prefer it to the original book (which has a completely different and more disappointing ending).
Woman on Top – A woman is the main cook at a small restaurant in the Carribean, run by her boyfriend, who doesn’t appreciate her. So, she makes a vow to the ocean goddess and leaves for the U.S. to make a new life, only to discover that her amazing cooking skills keep turning on her. This was a fun watch starring Penelope Cruz.
Babette’s Feast – I haven’t seen this one since I was young (I really should watch it again). But as far as I remember, it’s about a French woman who comes to a tiny Danish seaside town full of mainly old people as a caretaker for one of them. It turns out that this tiny little woman is actually an amazing chef and she starts cooking for the residents, some of whom don’t appreciate her efforts.
Waitress – A young woman trapped in a bad relationship is the chief pie-maker at a local diner, and boy are her pies amazing. They are also her outlet for happiness, anger, and despair. Then, when she discovers she is pregnant, the new doctor in town shakes things up. A bittersweet tale and not really my favorite, but I like it just for all the pie.
No Reservations – A remake of the German original “Bella Martha,” follows a tough female head chef who rules her kitchen (and the front of the house) with an iron fist. When her sister dies suddenly, she is left to care for a young niece, and has no idea how. To make matters worse, a new sous chef with dangerously easy charm is brought in and turn the kitchen, and her world, upside down. Also a slightly sad tale, I have a feeling this would be better in the original German, but was pretty good.
Like Water for Chocolate – A houseful of young women in early Mexico are ruled by an iron-fisted mother, who only wants to marry them off advantageously. One daughter, who loves to cook, falls in love but is forbidden to marry the boy. So she shows her love through her food. Magical moments, both lovely and disasterous, ensue. I have only read the book (highly recommended), but it is chock full of magical realism and I would very much like to see the film.
Julie & Julia – Again, I haven’t seen this film yet, but I loved the book. It’s all about a young New Yorker who, in order to liven up her dull life, decides to take on Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” making all of the recipes in her tiny little apartment kitchen (with help from her husband) in a year. Hilarity and personal growth ensues. This is actually based on the true story of Julie, a blogger who actually did this.
I know there are lots of other food films out there that I haven’t yet seen. Got any recommendations?