Nothing like cinema to get our stomachs grumbling, is there? But food movies do more than just make you hungry. Often, they inspire you to cook something new, visit a destination or experiment with your palate. Here is a list of few food movies and documentaries, both beloved and unknown. May good food take you to good places.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
93-year-old chef Jiro Ono dreams of sushi. He dreams of sushi, and how to make it better each time. In the Netflix documentary, director David Gelb (who later went to direct Chef’s Table) focuses on Jiro, his 10-seater sushi restaurant in Japan, and his honed art of making sushi immaculately. It’s a two-hour window into Jiro and his two sons’ world, their dedication to cooking, and this labour of love.
Travel to: Tokyo, Japan
Drool over: The way Jiro handles his ingredients, cuts through fish, conducts his plating. It is nothing short of perfection.
Julie and Julia
In just a decade of its release, Nora Ephron’s Julie and Julia has become a fine classic. One that only gets better with each view. As Julie Powers, a cubicle worker in present-day New York cooks her year through Julia Child’s cookbook; we see the journey of Julia Child becoming a cook in Paris. The stories of Julie and Julia run parallel to one another, giving a visual feast to the viewer, as scenes burst with the authentic flavours of Julia’s boeuf bourguignon and a gently folded raspberry Bavarian cream. Bon appetit!
Travel to: Parisian bistros and restaurants; gentrified Brooklyn neighbourhoods and its pizza parlours, apart from recreations of Julia Child’s kitchens
Drool over: Bruschetta and Chocolate Almond Cake
Find the original recipes dishes here.
When celebrity chef Dev D’s ill mother asks him to return to Kolkata and cook her maacher jhol, a dish he once made for her, he panics. He can’t quite remember the recipe, and enlists the help of a local chef to recreate the dish. As you watch the duo conduct experiments in the kitchen, through trial and error, the screen will fill up with Bengali ingredients, sights and smells. The film, much like the fish curry is flavourful and full of surprises.
Travel to: the streets of Kolkata
Drool over: The protagonist of this story is undoubtedly the maacher jhol
Salt Fat Acid Heat
Samin Nosrat, the author of bestselling cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat, takes her candid approach to food off the page on to screen in her 2018 Netflix documentary. Divided into four chapters, namely, Fat, Salt, Acid and Heat, the documentary takes you to a different region in each episode. Here, Nosrat takes to interacting with female local chefs, learning recipes, discussing the important each element (be it butter or olive oil as ‘fat’ or different salts and soya sauce in ‘Salt’), and giving approachable tips along the way, and shares family recipes too.
Travel to: Italy’s rolling hills in Tuscany, Japan’s port regions as they dig up sea salt
Drool over: the making of the olive oil-drizzled focaccia, crusty tahdig and beautiful filmography
Find the recipes from the show here.
Crazy Rich Asians
Although not technically a ‘food film’, the 2018 movie release of the novel Crazy Rich Asians did make our stomachs grumble. When character Nick Young gets his long term girlfriend, Rachel Chu to Singapore, the first thing he does after they land at Changi is take her to the Hawker’s Market and feast on bowls of noodles, satay, crabs. Although the real heat the character receives is from Nick’s family, the food is more than enough to inspire a visit to Singapore.
Takes you to: Singapore street eats at the Hawker’s Market
Drool-worthy dishes: Hokkien fried mee, stir-fried noodles, and handmade dumplings (courtesy Nick’s grandma)
It’s a brotherhood rivalry with pasta sauce as grease. The 1996 film Big Night is a comedy story of two Italian immigrants who come to New Jersey, America in the ‘50s to open an Italian restaurant. Except, they have customers who eat nothing but spaghetti and meatballs, and each other to deal with. Can they make the restaurant a success?
Takes you to: New Jersey, USA
Drool-worthy dishes: the timpani, three-coloured risotto
Not mentioning movie Ratatouille, albeit an animated motion picture, when talking about food is akin to sin. The phrase “Anybody can cook!” by Chef Gusteau of his eponymous restaurant in Paris inspires Remy, a rat, to pursue his dreams. When he gets separated from his family, he, through an unexpected series of events, starts cooking amazing food in the guise of (human) chef Linguini. The animation by Disney-Pixar brings the French food on the screen to life like never before.
Takes you to: an animated—but very delightful—Paris
Drool-worthy dishes: Remy’s accidental soup, and the inspiration for the film, Ratatouille
Other food movies we love include—
Eat Pray Love for its ‘eat’ in Italy chapter; 100 Foot Journey; Babette’s Feast, Chef
In Indian cinema, The Lunchbox; Marathi film Gulabjaam, Malayali movie Ustad Hotel