Food as a subject for film is perfect: luscious for the eyes, sumptious colours and textures; I always feel hungry after seeing a good food movie. Food and film go together like bacon and eggs, spaghetti and meatballs,bagels and lox, chocolate and peanut butter, chocolate and almost anything. On top of that, food is the ideal trope with which to explore such juicy themes as culture and ethnicity, love and sex, politics and religion, excess, liberation, and social taboos. Anything you can think of, really. Food is always a symbol of something else.
1. Babette’s Feast – probably the epitome of all foodie films that celebrates the sensuality and liberation of delicious dishes, and the one that started it all. One incredible dinner takes up half the film.
2. Tampopo – billed as a Japanese noodle Western, but really a comedy about food and sex. In between the main plot about the search for perfect ramen noodles are short vignettes like the one with a man and woman passing an egg yolk from mouth to mouth, until it breaks orgiastically.
3. Big Night – spaghetti, passion, the American Dream, fraternal rivalry, and Isabella Rossellini!
4. Eat Drink Man Woman (and its Latino remake, Tortilla Soup) – food as an expression of familial love, as well as food and sex.
5. Like Water for Chocolate – Magic Realism heats meals up into passion.
6. The Chinese Feast – a lesser known film by Hong Kong martial arts director Tsui Hark (Once Upon a Time in China), this could be described as a mix of gangster comedy/Iron Chef competition.
7. Vatel – A three-day feast, set in 1671 France under the decadent reign of Louis XIV.
Then there is food as a symbol of greed, debauchery and excess, food, repulsively, as ourselves (there are too many zombie films to list, as well as a fair number of cannibalism films).
8. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover – Peter Greenaway’s lush, stylish, and very grisly fairytale about greed and lust for power.
9. Dumplings – Fruit Chan gives us the most delectable looking dim sum with the most morbid of fillings.
10. La grande bouffe – Marcello Mastroianni stars in this story about a group of men who hire some prostitutes and go to a villa in the countryside to engage in group sex and eat themselves to death.