Love, cooking and…a touch of fantasy. In other words: cooking in movies. What’s your favorite one?
I did a special choice for you…So …let’s see if your tastes match with mine….(I guess yes!)
First of all: as it comes to eating….you certainly cannot miss the Italian evergreen masterpiece (starring Gina Lollobrigida firstly and than Sophia Loren) “bread love and fantasy”and the following “bread love and jealousy”. Or maybe not: in fact I’m just joking as, I have to admit, despite the bread, they’re not about cooking! More or less as my beloved “Eat pray love” (one my favorite ones) isn’t strictly about the art of kitchen (but more focused on eating good, slow food)!
So let’s come seriously to our topic: the love relationship between movies and cooking.
All begun with Pixar’s animation piece: French ambientation (traditional Paris romance), legendary big chefs, a charming elegant restaurant in the heart of the picturesque Montmartre…. and a little mouse who, “against all odds”, had a dream: becoming a master chef!
It was an unbelievable success, which hit every previous prediction. I’m talking, of course, about “Ratatouille”.
The great success achieved opened the doors to many other realizations. Cooking, which was considered before as a “minor niche”for movies, suddenly, out of the blue, spread as one of the most glamour, charming and must-seeing topic.
Nothing to do with ‘50ies housewives, forced by ancient mentality to stay at home working for their families.
After fifty years of feminine revolution (or almost), Occident has taken a new attitude toward kitchen, fire, pots: it’s no more a matter of primary needing and obligations (toward whoever). It’s a pure pleasure. A free choice. And, most of all: it’s an authentic art! Strictly connected with culture, tradition, travel, history and…maybe, erotism…(sometimes with crime, I’m afraid to say….)
This last strange idea was maybe what came into Peter Greenway’s mind, the brilliant Director of “The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover” . He decided to set his history (about jealousy, criminality and…final cannibalism) in a huge kitchen, the backstage of a restaurant, in which every image seems to exit from a baroque painting (of Rembrandt, Velasquez, but also Italian Caravaggio or Campi)… quintal of breads, hams, fruits hanging from ceiling as a triumph to opulence. Pork, beef, cow’s meat are shown as to stress hyperbolic abundance. Everything is exaggerate. As our inner, deep needing to eat. Which, in the end, could come in a final, extreme collapse.
But here we are: with the obsession of eating, not with his pleasure. (Or eventually pleasure could ends up transformed into an obsession, as in the Italian movie “La grande bouffe” starring the great Ugo Tognazzi).
But these are all extreme (and deadly) approaches to the beauty of food, where a good table has nothing to do with insane attitudes.
So, let’s come back to loosen “comedies” about cooking and good dishes.
Ever seen “Chef” starring Jean Reno? In this one he is not a mafian gangster of Besson’s stories. But a chef of a reknown restaurant in the heart of Paris. Who accepts to raise a new treinee (joung and gifted but not yet experienced). Dish after dish, they will soon become friends and a winning couple.
Than we have “Julia and Julia”, which you shall remember because is starring a fantastic (as always) Maryl Streep. A joung american blogger of today, whose life is ordinary ruled by work routine, falls in love for cooking. Taking inspiration from her mentor, the first american woman become chef (in the ‘50ies) who had her same name (Julia), she launch a deal to follow her footsteps: she will cook one of her masterpiece dish every day…and than she will report in the Blog her results. An involving face to face between the great chef of the past and the fresh- motivated modern woman of today. All devoted (being american) to classic french cooking.
And finally… this is the one I most enjoyed… there is “The hundred foot journey”. Always taking place in France. This time in a tiny village on mountains. An indian family opens an ethnic bistrot just in face to a “Michelin” starred restaurant, of classical an pure french tradition. They have to face racial prejudices to be accepted to the community and…in the end they will end up winning. With love and career. The most unpredictable love you’d ever expect (for the indian father and the traditionalist, competitive woman chief of the French restaurant -starring the great Helen Mirren-) besides the most unpredictable career you ‘d expect (for the indian sun, which will embrace French cooking to become master chef in Paris ). A perfect “melange” between traditions and innovation, classical and ethnic. As the best contemporary cooking (but maybe, also, movies?) must be nowadays…
Three true Must-see.