Last weekend I saw Chef on the recommendation of my best guy friend, a.k.a “BFF.” And as he predicted, I did indeed love it. I loved it as a searing metaphor for writer/director Jon Favreau’s relationship to the Hollywood machine, and I loved it for itself: a savory-sweet concoction of joyfulness. Such a happy-go-lucky little movie. And I really appreciated seeing a story about an adult taking the time to teach a child things that are worth knowing.
As I sat watching the credits and absorbing what I’d just watched, I realized during the credit cookie that Chef amounted to an easy slam-dunk for me not just because it’s good, but also because it’s way up my alley. There are certain types of movies that are hard to ruin for me. One is a twisty amnesia mystery. Another is any movie that involves lovingly filmed scenes of food preparation.
I make no claims to “foodie” status. I enjoy squirt cheese too much for that. But, for better or worse, I am an emotional eater. Scenes that imbue food with that sensibility hit me where I live. It’s not just movies either. My favorite scene in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon is where Pilate teaches her nephew how to cook a perfect soft-boiled egg. I still vividly remember reading that book in my twin bed in my college dorm. After I came to that passage, I got no farther on my reading assignment that night because I just kept re-reading that part over and over again. It triggered the sweet spot in my brain.
To hit the sweet spots in your brains, here are some other food-centric movie moments for your viewing pleasure:
Ratatouille. Like Chef, this Pixar favorite has something important to say about the relationship between artists and critics. It also has the scene where Remy tries to demonstrate to his hopelessly philistine brother why meals are for savoring.
Chocolat is a movie that triggers irresistible cravings. Also, quite timely for me. *
Waitress. This is a singularly depressing movie about pie and domestic abuse. In that order. It’s also tinged with sadness because of the real-life tragedy that struck independent film director Adrienne Shelly just before the movie’s release.
Like for Water Chocolate. Clearly a gimme. Honestly, I’ve never been a huge fan (because Pedro is such a tool), but if I leave it off this list, I’ll lose all credibility. It’s clearly mandatory on every list of great food movies, including the myriad lists recently inspired by Chef. **
The Mirror Has Two Faces. It’s not always a whole film devoted to chow. Sometimes it’s all about an individual scene. Witness the meditation on the “perfect bite.” Also, Hostess Snowballs have never looked so delicious. I have sensory issues with the consistency of coconut, but I end up wanting a spongy marshmallow treat every time I watch this.
V for Vendetta. Eggy in a basket. Nuff said.
What about all of you? Which of your mouth-watering scenes did I leave out? School me in the comments.
* Speaking of emotional eating, I made honey-infused dark chocolate truffles to celebrate surviving an extremely grueling work week. It was my first attempt at candy-making, and so my truffles did not turn out as beautifully as Vianne’s. Also, you really can’t taste the honey at all. But they are still a serviceable pick-me-up, and I plan to tweak the recipe in the future. Feel free to link me in the comments if you know a good recipe.
** I’m officially the last person on the Internet to write a version of this theme.