Skip to main content

I love food and I love films. When that smart Kossack, plf515, suggested a diary on food films last week I just had to take this gallantly offered opportunity and run with it.

As a former chef any film that deals with eating or drinking (both is good) is obligatory viewing for me. And if it's funny then it's the icing on the cake. Without further ado let me say that I'm a great fan of that incredibly disturbing, satiric film, "La Grande Bouffe". If you haven't seen it, then make it your duty to hunt for a copy, rent it and get really grossed out! In short, four men in serious mid-life crisis get together over a weekend for one last orgy of sex, lotsa gourmet eating, and decadent behavior before dying of overeating. Fans of Marcello Mastroianni will not be disappointed. I posted a small YouTube apercu below to whet your, ahem, appetite.

To view a classic film eating scene look no further than Albert Finney in Tom Jones. The scene below remains original if not a little kinky. Judge for yourself.

Watching people eat and how they eat, what they eat (and who eats who as in "Eating Raoul") often offers a profound insight into what makes them tick. Abstracted from the mundane reality of nourishment we are encouraged to speculate wildly on the given symbolism, and ultimately, we tend to look for the meaning of our own daily bread, no pun intended. Oddly enough I can only remember a quail dish being served in one of my favorite film, "My  Dinner with André", a masterpiece of understatement. Ditto with "Alice's Restaurant". I can't remember the food either, just the look of a devastated Alice. One that is memorable is "Like Water for Chocolate", a knockout film which follows the adventures of Tita, an illegitimate girl who wants to marry the smoldering Pedro. Alas, her "mother" does not allow it and offers another daughter, Rosura. Pedro accepts in order to be close to Tita who spends her time throughout this film preparing meals. The funniest moments of this film are when the diners get to experience Tita's emotions when they eat her cooking. As everyone starts to eat the meal at Rosura's wedding they all begin to cry and mourn for lost loves.

Another must see food film is Tampopo. The movie, which director Itami calls a "noodle western," is an hilarious mixture of the kitsch and the sublime. The main story is that of a widow named Tampopo (which means "dandelion" in English) who struggles to keep going the modest noodle shop her late husband had opened on the outskirts of Tokyo. Business is bad. Arrives a rough truck driver, cowboy hat-wearing, Goro, and his sidekick Gun (played by a young Ken Watanabe) who help Tampopo's quest to search for the perfect bowl of steaming-hot ramen. What ensues is a film laden with Western films references like "The Magnificent Seven", "The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral", and a quite few more.

One film that I see periodically is Bunuel's "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie", a scathing and surrealistic political comedy masterpiece about a wealthy group of friends repeatedly prevented from beginning their elaborate dinner by increasingly strange events. Where's the beef, you might ask! Well, there isn't and that's the point of the film. I remember coming out of that film the first time I saw it, I was so hungry that I ended up in the nearest greasyspoon and murdered several burgers.

I truly hated "Who's Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?", not an ounce of fat in that one tedious flick. Which brings me to this gem, "Eat Drink Man Woman", Ang Lee's masterpiece of gourmet Chinese cooking. Since all the family members in the film have difficulty expressing their love for one another, the intricate preparation of banquet quality dishes for their Sunday dinners serves as a surrogate for the spoken expression of their familial feelings, with muted results. What do you expect from the man who made "Brokeback Mountain"?

Other food films I love, among lots of others: "Babette's Feast", "Big Night", "Tortilla Soup" and the one segment of "Viva Italia", in which a major food fight in a hotel's kitchen develops between two brothers, one is the chef and the other is the front man. The dining room is full of customers and the kitchen is completely destroyed. What fun!

Tom Jones YouTube:

And lastly when I was running my restaurant in Sydney, in the late seventies, it was closed on Sundays. I had to change it to Mondays as the second Fawlty Towers series aired on Monday nights only. In fact John Cleese's antics were responsible for most restaurants closing on Mondays. A few of us in the industry would gather at each other's homes and host a Fawlty Towers night, alongside ample food and wine, then after watching the new episode we'd spend the rest of the night watching re-runs of the first series. We knew all the dialogue and mouthed it off as it went. It's no wonder that both series (12 episodes in all) has been voted the best comedy series ever.

La Grande Bouffe YouTube:


Originally posted to Asinus Asinum Fricat on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 02:21 PM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site