The best food films from around the world

A while back, I discussed the best travel films that will inspire you to globe-trot. I had the most fun time compiling that list, watching world cinema and taking inspiration to travel to some of the remotest corners in the world.

In this post I want to talk about food, something I’m as much obsessed with. Trying local food is high on my to-do list when travelling to a new city. It is this love for food that led me to try an ostrich meat burger in London, Feni ice cream in Goa, chicken rezala in Bhopal, laal maas in Jaisalmer and the best lassi you’ll ever have in Amritsar.

Compiling this movies list has exposed me to a whole new world of cuisines and urged me to travel farther. I want to go try that Cuban sandwich, those apple pies, those scones and ramen and I want to try it in the city it is famous for. While that dream is a work in progress, here’s my list of personally chosen food films for some inspiration. Bookmark this and don’t watch any of these movies on an empty stomach!

Julie and Julia

Inspired by the true story of Julie Powell who cooked 524 recipes in 365 days from American chef Julia Child’s cookbook – Mastering the art of French cooking.

The stories of the two women set in different eras run parallel in the film. Meryl Streep’s charming performance as Julia Child fetched her an Oscar nomination for the Best Actress. Your senses will be aroused after watching all the French food in this film (especially the beef bourguignon).

 

Babette’s Feast (Danish)

A French refugee enters into the life of two unmarried sisters as a cook in 19th century Denmark. The 1987 film won an Oscar in the Best Foreign language film category.

Babette’s Feast turns into a culinary extravaganza in the second hour when she wins a lottery and treats her employers and a few villagers to an exquisite French meal. Exotic wines, champagne, spirits, entre, lavish main course and desserts are on display. Babette’s Feast will make you yearn for such an extra-ordinary meal.

 

Ratatouille

An animated film about a rat who aspires to be a chef.

The film won tremendous acclaim including an Oscar for the Best Animated feature film. I didn’t know until this film that Ratatouille is a traditional French dish. How I wish all the food in the film was for real!

 

 

No Reservations

Kate is a head chef in a restaurant in Manhattan. Things take a turn when an accident leaves her with the responsibility of her niece. The film is a remake of the German flick ‘Bella Martha’.

With chefs as protagonists, food is bound to be on display. Some loyalists might prefer the original film, but I picked the English version for two reasons: the food was way better, and Catherine Zeta-Jones looked stunning. (Bias, I know!).

Chef (2014)

When Carl gets fired from his job as a chef, he opens a food truck and goes on a road trip from Miami to LA, while bonding with his son along the way.

Chef is a super fun watch. This is simple story-telling and unlike the Hindi remake by the same, the food is the real hero here. Thanks to this film, I’ve got introduced to the goodness of Cuban sandwiches.

Eat Drink Man Woman (Taiwanese)

A nightly meal is the only time a father and his three daughters communicate. Each daughter chooses this setting to announce an important news, until one day, when the father announces a news of his own that may either please or shock everyone.

Some mouth watering traditional Taiwanese cuisine is on display here ranging from soups to noodles, chicken, pork, duck, fish, tofu, Chinese tea, the works. The father’s love and passion for cooking shows not just in the presentation but the process of cooking each dish. Viewers will be left salivating for what they see onscreen.

 

Tortilla Soup

The English remake of Eat drink man woman with a Mexican-American family setting

The Mexican food in Tortilla Soup is as mouth-watering as in the original. Although for its earnesty and performances, I still prefer the original – Eat Drink Man Woman.

 

 

Like Water for Chocolate (Spanish)

Tita has a gift to put her emotions and feelings into her cooking, the effects of which are unintentionally seen in those who eat the meal.

This film brilliantly concocts fiction with realism alongside a love story. Food, here, is a medium of expressing Tita’s feelings and the meals are traditional 19th century dishes like hand made bread, quail with rose petals, Chorizos (pork sausages) and baked Mexican hot peppers. You will like this one if you prefer period drama.

Toast

A 2010 direct-to-television film based on the memoirs of English food writer Nigel Slater and his obsession with cooking since childhood.

Sublime, sophisticated and very very British. An excellent trip into early British cuisine – from pies of all kinds to cakes, scones, trifles, smoked haddock and roast meat. The one-upmanship between Nigel (Freddie Highmore) and his step mom (Helena Bonham Carter) to make the best lemon meringue leaves viewers salivating. Keep some food handy while watching this one!

The Trip

Actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play themselves in a fictional tale that has them taking a tour of the best restaurants in Northern England.

Food porn, British humour, English actor impressions, ABBA references and plenty of witty one liners come together in this understated comedy. It gets talk-heavy at some portions but overall the British food in this film is sure to arouse your senses. This one is for the connoisseurs of fine food and cinema.

Chocolat

Set in a French village straight out of the 1950s with Chocolate as the central theme. Need more? Chocolat received 5 Oscar nominations and 4 Golden Globe nominations that year including the Best Film and Best Actress.

Watching Chocolat is a sublime experience. There is no reason you should miss it. Did I mention, it also stars Johny Depp who looks just as delicious as all the chocolates in the film?

Waitress

Jenna (Keri Russell) invents pie recipes by relating them to situations in her life. The film is a laugh riot, and those pies look delicious as hell. Even the recipe names are inventive, for example:

– I Hate My Husband Pie – Take bittersweet chocolate and don’t sweeten it. Make it into a pudding and drown it in caramel

– Pregnant Miserable Self Pitying Loser Pie –  Lumpy oatmeal with fruitcake mashed in; flambé of course

– Earl Murders Me Coz I’m having an Affair Pie – Smash blackberries and raspberries into a chocolate crust

Bottle Shock

The film gets its name from a temporary wine condition where the drink becomes lack-lustre if the oxidation when bottling is improper. The symptom disappears within a few days/weeks and the wine tastes exactly how good it was before bottling.

You will love this film if you take keen interest in wines, winery and vineyards. Not only do you get an insight into wines but feast your eyes on the vineyards in the Napa Valley. Bottle Shock conveys how a 1976 landmark competition opened the doors for wine makers from around the world, when it was proven that French wines were not unbeatable.

Wine lovers must also watch the 2004 release – Sideways. It’s funny, well acted, and has an Academy award winning screenplay.

Big Night

In a final attempt to redeem their unsuccessful restaurant business, 2 brothers invite a celebrity guest and prepare an elaborate meal for his welcoming.

Lots of culture references in this one and the food is just how Italian food is meant to be, irresistible! Watch out for the finale, which is a nearly 5-minute dialogue-less scene between Stanley Tucci, Marc Anthony and Tony Shalhoub, where Tucci after a heated argument from the previous night prepares scrambled eggs and splits it into three shares for all to eat.

Dinner Rush

A culinary thriller whose plot involves the incidents in an evening at a fine dine Italian restaurant in New York.

Manic kitchen and multi-tasking chefs, noisy dining area, interesting customers and mouth-watering Italian food. If Big Night is a pot pouri of people, culture and cuisine; Dinner rush is the one you must watch for hard core food porn.

 

Tampopo (Japanese)

Two truck drivers train a roadside ramen shop owner to make the best noodles so she can redeem her unsuccessful business. There are a few other subplots in the film with food as the common theme.

The 1985 release fits the list to the T. The love for food is so generously evident throughout the film that it is difficult to pick only a few scenes. You will be left craving for a sumptuous bowl of noodles after watching the film. Vegetarians can skip this one!

 

Who is killing the great chefs of Europe

One by one the great chefs from Europe are mysteriously getting killed in the manner for which their signature dishes are known.

A 1978 classic comedy-thriller. Plenty of food references are made even in routine character conversations. Robert Morley’s performance and some brilliant filming locations in Europe are noteworthy.

What’s Cooking

Four families in a USA neighbourhood are preparing for a Thanksgiving feast. What ensues is food, food and more food.

Roast Turkey is the star of this film. Each family prepares their own version of the bird, so we feast our eyes on Latin-American, Vietnamese, Jewish and African-American cuisine. Don’t watch this film on an empty stomach!

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs

It is raining food in a town called Swallow Falls after Flint Lockwood invents a machine that can convert water into food.

An ultimate food fantasy film. Don’t you just wish such a town existed where by a click of a button it rained cheeseburgers, hot-dogs, pizzas, steaks, spaghetti, donuts, ice-cream, jelly beans and what not?

Stanley Ka Dabba (Hindi)

The film reminds me of the good old school days when all one was bothered about was the recess and the eagerness to open our tiffin box. The food in this film is prepared by mothers with lots of love. Get ready for an emotionally moving social message in the finale.

 

Nina’s Heavenly Delights

Nina is determined to save her father’s Indian restaurant in Glasgow, which he lost to gambling. She takes Lisa’s help to participate and win a cooking competition during which a romantic relationship develops between the two.

Nothing authentic about the Indian food in this film – it’s a very westernised version. Yet, lots of curries and Indian spices on display. Script-wise a bit cliche, but the food more than compensates. A lesbian love story inter-woven is also refreshing for a change.

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These were my picks. Feel free to use the comment box below and let me know your favorite food film! 🙂

(Note: I do not own any of the pictures in this blog post. They have been added for pictorial representation sake. All text can get boring to read sometimes)

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Also read

22 travel films that will inspire you to globe-trot

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Edwina D'souza

Read write watch, 2 left hands and feet, recluse, gazer and occasionally suffer from wanderlust syndrome!!

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