Food, glorious food: Five great food movies

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Food is a good thing. That
is my profound post-Thanksgiving pronouncement. My mother is an extraordinary,
amazing cook — a fact I remember acutely when I visit my parents.
By virtue of having grown up in a home with good food, I’ve continued
to appreciate good food all my life. And it’s still a connection
I share with my mother: I call her when I’ve had a great meal, when
I’ve cooked something interesting and when I’ve seen a good food movie.

So, in the spirit of the overeating
I’ve been doing at my parents’ home for the past few days, I’ve been
thinking about some of my favorite food movies. These are not all great
movies, and they are not necessarily the greatest food movies, but they’re
all food movies that I’ve enjoyed, and that came to mind recently.

1. What’s Cooking? (2000)

What’s Cooking? is the
no-brainer. First, we have gay-friendly director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham).
Then there’s the mouthwatering multi-ethnic Thanksgiving food prepared by Joan Chen, Mercedes Ruehl, Alfre Woodard, Julianna Margulies and Kyra Sedgwick, among others.
Last, and most important,
we have Julianna Margulies and Kyra Sedgwick as perhaps the most attractive
and appealing lesbian couple in the history of movie lesbians.

Yes, the movie has its flaws.
(Every time I watch, I cannot believe the Vietnamese college student
tells his parents he’s not coming home for Thanksgiving and then goes
to his girlfriend’s house. Across the street from his parents’ house.)
But then Julianna Margulies flexes her perfect arms, and she and Kyra
Sedgwick giggle over the turkey baster. And all is well in the world.

Take a look at the trailer
to remember how sweet and charming the movie is.


2. Waitress (2007)

When a movie review appears in the “Dining and Wine”
section of The New York Times, you know food plays a major role.

Waitress is the ultimate pie movie. While I could probably expound
upon the things the pies represent in the movie, what interests me most
is how much the movie made me crave “I Hate My Husband
Pie
” — among
many other types. And I’m not that much of a pie person. (I’ve always
lamented that in my house, Thanksgiving is a pie holiday.) I also left
the theater humming, “Baby don’t be blue. Gonna make for you. Gonna
make a pie with a heart in the middle.”

3.
Tortilla Soup (2001)

Tortilla Soup is not
a great movie. But the food photography borders on obscene. A Mexican-American
take on Ang Lee‘s Eat Drink Man Woman, Tortilla Soup
is the story of a retired chef’s relationship with his three adult daughters
(Jacqueline Obradors, Tamara Mello and Elizabeth Pena

— who will always be “Dora” from I Married Dora to me.) Both
the daughters and the food are lovely.

4. Fried Green
Tomatoes

(1991)

Food is not as central to

Fried Green Tomatoes as it is to the other movies in this list.
But the food fight! Director Jon Avnet
has acknowledged that it’s the symbolic love scene between Idgie Mary Stuart Masterson) and Ruth (Mary-Louise Parker) (Note to Jon Avnet — an actual
love scene would have been better.) Regardless, food (via the
restaurant) is the key connection between our de-sexualized lovers, and
given the physiological link
between food and sex
,
food is not such a bad proxy here.

5. Ratatouille (2007)

I do not like rats. Not even
a little bit. And, living in New York, I see them in the subway and
in the parks on an unfortunately regular basis. So, when a movie that
features a rat as a culinary genius and the de facto head chef of restaurant
makes me hungry rather than nauseated, I know that they did the food
right. (In all fairness, I did experience a few moments of revulsion.)
More than anything, the movie extols virtues and pleasures inherent
in cooking and appreciating food. And Janeane Garofalo
provides the voice for the only major female character, so that’s
a bonus.

There are so many other great
food movies out there. What are your favorites?

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