Movies about food

Hey, anyone wanna help write curriculum?

Starting in May, I’m going to be teaching a class in which, to quote from the tenative catalog decription,

“students will look at and respond to a variety of texts that examine the roles cuisine plays in shaping the lives of individuals, families, and cultures. Many of the primary texts will be films, such as “Like Water for Chocolate” or “Eat Drink Man Woman” (The specific list will be subject to periodic change), and much of the class will be spent writing about and discussing these films and their themes.”

The working list of films we’re considering so far:

Babette’s Feast
Eat Drink Man Woman
Like Water for Chocolate
Soul Food

I could (and did) just google, but I’d like to get some personal recommendations. Please don’t hesitate to second other people’s votes.

Films must be appropriate for classroom viewing (The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover would be out…) and fairly easily accessible (think Community College). Extra bonus points for films that are adaptations of novels.
Finally, I’m also looking for short stories and memoirs about food, especially ones that may connect or contrast with the films.

Tortilla Soup is the Mexican-American version of Eat Drink Man Woman. Also, you might simply try to search the IMDB by the keyword “food” although you’ll get a lot of inappropriate results.

Tampopo is a must. There’s a bit of sex, but no more than in Like Water for Chocolate. Big Night is good, too.

I missed the part about the memoirs. M.F.K. Fisher is the obvious choice there.

I’ll second Big Night, I’m sure there was a plot and stuff but mostly I just remember the food.

I like the film “Big Night.” It’s not precisely about food, but then, neither is “Chocolat.” It’s about two Italian brothers who own a restaurant that is failing. A rival restaurant starts a rumor that a big star (I think it’s Louis Prima) is coming to town, and the brothers go all out to entice this star to eat in their restaurant. It’s touching and sweet, and there’s a quiet, subtle scene toward the end that highlights that love - and food - conquers all. MAJOR spoiler for those who haven’t seen it:

Their attempt is sort of a failure - the big star does not show up. The brothers fight over this, but neither of them really realizes that on this night, their reputation is made and their venture is successful in other ways. After their big fight, they fall asleep in essentially “opposite corners,” thoroughly angry at one another. In the morning, one brother rises and without a word, starts cooking breakfast for the other. They’re still not speaking to one another, but their love and oblique apology to one another comes through the way they cook.

I really need to learn to type faster :slight_smile:

My “first thought” nominations have already been mentioned, but I can still add What’s Cooking?

And I’ll definitely add another vote for Big Night.

Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? - oldy but a goody, I more vividly remember the book that had a recipe after each death but a most amusing food movie.
Mostly Martha - lovely deeply personal story about an obsessive chef, her niece and the new unorthodox chef in her German kitchen. Now that I’ve thought of it I am going to book it through Quickflix to see again.
Dinner Rush - terrific movie with a great cast, shot in one of the New York restaurants owned by director Bob Giraldi. UNderrated. Quickflix for this one too.

For stories, (if you can track it down) there’s always “The Salad Maker” by Robert McNear. I can never look at capers without thinking about it.

There’s also Roald Dahl’s “Lamb to the Slaughter,” with one of the most memorable meals in mystery fiction. :slight_smile:

The Silence of the Lambs?

Oh, furt, this class sounds awesome!

You must include Big Night.

is a major theme of the film. The brothers argue over serving authentic food from their country, or compromising by “Americanizing” the food to be more successful to uneducated patrons, like the more successful restaurant down the street.

It has a great cast, too – Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Minnie Driver, Ian Holm, Isabella Rossellini…

That movie was so good, I bought the book. Not the novelization; the cookbook.

Fried Green Tomatoes?
Harold and Kumar go to White Castle :smiley:
Supersize Me - I think this appropriate for exploring food in culture.

you may want to IMDB the movies so far and hit “recommendations”


There’s an excellent food scene in Iron Monkey, as well as a discussion on the proper diet for a child.
**Vatel ** shows how food is used in the definition of class in mid-18th century(?) France.
Oddly, **Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ** shows some interesting attitudes towards foods and candy.
**Big Night ** and **Babbette’s Feast ** simply *must * be in the curriculum. You might consider a brief diversion on “bad food” and consider showing a vampire movie or The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.

I didn’t read your OP carefully enough to see that The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover was already considered and rejected. Whoops, sorry! I hated that movie, so don’t anybody else rent it.
I still like the “food, perverted” idea as a possible assignment for the strong-tummied.

How about some cannibal pics for the “bad food” category; Motel Hell, Eating Raoul and Parents.

Fast Food:
Hamburger… The Motion Picture
Good Burger


Dinner for Two

Ice Cream Vendors:
Comfort and Joy
Ice Cream Man

Kung Pao Chicken

Los Enchiladas!
Tortilla Soup

Thanksgiving Dinner:
What’s Cooking?

what about films that are not 100% about the food but where meals play a crucial role? This could be helpful if you’re looking to discuss the symbolism and signficance inherent in food traditions.

For example, in Avalon, a historic family rift occcurs on Thanksgiving when one uncle decides to “cut the toikey” before his older brother and family have arrived.

The novel of **Under the Tuscan Sun ** was much more about food that the film, but perhaps you could find some worthwhile scenes and get your bonus points.

Well, thankee. I hope it ends up that way.

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. Big Night was one of the ones I found through Googling, and the discriptions here make it sound perfect.

To give an idea what this class is for, I teach at a “career college”; one of those places that advertises on daytime TV where students come to get a marketable job skill. In my case, it’s a Culinary Academy. But because we give an AS degree (not just a certificate), there has to be a gen ed requirement, and this class wil be English II (English I being basic rhetoric).

The point is: this is not a graduate seminar. Some of my students have been very successful in academic environments, but there are some who barely graduated from sub-par high schools. Most of them are rather dubious about having to take my course at all.

And while I am quite prepared to believe that I’m the most brilliant teacher in the world, capapable of making Bergman interesting to them, I won’t be the only one who teaches the class. So do please keep in mind accessibility, as well as themes that are pretty readily discernable with just a bit of a push in the right direction.
That said, thanks for the ideas. Keep 'em coming!