Foodie Gift Ideas: Top 5 Movies That Celebrate Food and Cooking
Beyond such mainstream fare as Disney’s Ratatouille, these 5 movies make great gifts for those interested in food, cooking, and the gourmet life.
Managing to be both comic and bittersweet, this Japanese film which was directed by the late Juzo Itami may be the ultimate foodie movie.
A widow running a drab and mediocre noodle restaurant finds her life changed when a truck driver and his friends with a passion for noodles help her in her quest for culinary excellence. Often described as a “Japanese Noodle Western”, Tampopo also explores the place food has in society.
Subplots humorously (and absurdly) skewer such stereotypes as the dutiful Japanese mother who rises from her deathbed to cook for her family, then collapses in fatal relief when she’s sure that they will be fed, a sensualist Gatsby-esque gangster and his moll who have catered meals served to them in the front row when they go to the movies, and a group of resourceful vagabonds headed by a noodle guru who break into a closed restaurant so they can demonstrate proper cooking techniques to the earnestly ambitious noodle shop widow.
Gerard Depardieu, Uma Thurman, and Tim Roth star in this opulent period piece about the extravagant excesses (culinary and otherwise) of King Louis XIV, as well as his loyal servant Vatel’s brilliant and magnificently successful efforts to serve the demanding and decadent monarch and the Royal Court.
Serving as a kind of executive chef/culinary chess master, Vatel is astonishingly competent in the kitchen yet permanently trapped in the position by the lowly circumstances of his birth. Up untl the start of the film, his whole life was spent serving others. When the film starts, he is only now starting to learn how to serve himself.
3. Manor House (also known as Edwardian Manor House)
If you’re fascinated with historical cooking techniques and have enjoyed such public television reality shows as Frontier House and 1900 House, you won’t want to miss Manor House which spends a good portion of its time showing what it might have been like to be “in service” in a typical Edwardian kitchen.
Although the 6 hour miniseries shows how 21 modern people take on the roles and everyday duties of Edwardian Era servants and their masters (for better or worse), it is the time spent in the kitchen that fascinates.
Chef Denis Dubiard, temperamental because of his supreme dedication to cooking authentic Edwardian food on a historically accurate (and equally temperamental) wood fired stove, must rely on a cadre of inexperienced scullery maids and helpers to assist him. With most of the cast perpetually worn out by the grueling amount of work needed to keep a proper Edwardian kitchen and house humming, this film explores some of the trials and inequities of life in that period.
4. Mostly Martha (Also known as Bella Martha)
Martina Gedeck (formerly seen as the bruised but radiant protagonist in The Lives of Others) stars as Martha Klein, a chef in an upscale restaurant. Her ordered but rather ascetic life is upended when her sister’s daughter comes to live with her, and her boss hires an Italian chef who is more buoyant than disciplined.
Sparks fly and some great food is made in this German film which was remade in America as No Reservations (starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Aaron Eckhart).
Waitress finds its main character Jenna (played by Keri Russell) trapped in a loveless marriage and working at Joe’s Pie Diner, a candy colored place where almost all the dishes (both sweet and savory) revolve around pie.
At first, Jenna may not seem to have much control over her life, but she’s a visionary pie baker who sublimates her true feelings in the recipes for the pies she creates.
With a sprinkling of magical realism, this bittersweet comedy truly gets across some of the joys and challenges of creating new recipes, including the recipe she hopes will be her ticket out of her situation.
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--Doug DuCap/ HuggingtheCoast.Com