I like food, no I love food, and one joy I have in being a self-proclaimed Foodie is this– Foodie Movies. The Hunger Games franchise are not foodie movies however, and to say that I’m disappointed by this would be a mild understatement. The Hunger Games books were Foodie books though, what with Suzanne Collins’ pros about delicious dishes like lamb stew with dried plums, and back story that Katniss was named for the wild Katniss tuber (potato like plant). Safe to say it, but the book entire series is chock-a-block full of heavenly Foodie enticing material, right down to even the squirrels, and the unfortunate exposition that the people of District 12 sometimes had to prepare mice as food for themselves.
There are Foodie movies out there though, a lot actually. And thankfully you have me here to tell you about a select few, well– if you’re into that kind of thing. And face it, if you’re a Hunger Games fan you just might be if you think about it. Let’s start with the classics, no not Arsenic and Old Lace, ’cause believe it or not there are a lot of food references in that one– I do highly recommend that one however. Let’s go with the award-winning 1980s classic Babette’s Feast though, winner of the 1988 Oscar for best foreign language film, and there are several reasons why it won. One of them is most definitely the amazing food that’s cooked and displayed, one other is the comedy of culture, and cultural biased. Watch the movie, you’ll get what I mean, and also have a mad craving for French food afterwards. Oh, and the story was originally a novel, hmmm.
Like Water for Chocolate is a film that probably gets taught in a lot of film studies courses, because it’s a perfect example of surrealist film making. Think Pan’s Labyrinth only less scary, and a lot more funny. Like Water for Chocolate is a love story, a love story about people who can’t be together, and the food that’s made to quell the need to be together. It’s a sexy piece, but it’s a moving piece, so if you’re squeamish about nudity, oh and hate reading subtitles, steer clear. However, if you like to watch Mexican food being made expertly, watch it now, now, now. Or read the book! ‘Cause guess what?! The film was originally a novel and a cookbook in one!
Chocolat, like the last two films mentioned was also originally a novel, a delicious novel full of chocolate and the stories of an emotionally repressed town in France in the 1950s. The film version was released in the year 2000, it starred Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, and my favorite cameo performance was from none other than Leslie Caron (An American in Paris). Stellar cast, right? Hell yeah. But the real star is you guessed it… the chocolate. The center focus of the entire story in the shocking opening of a chocolatier (chocolate shop), in this small very catholic town during seemingly the entire towns observance of lent. The shop owner however is not catholic and sees no problem with her opening her shop during a time of self deniance. Her food, her sweets become a subject of great contention amongst the townspeople, and it’s seriously great fodder for character development, and examinations on culture, as well as human nature. Also, did I mention there’s chocolate?
Lastly we have a recent film, one that may or may not be still playing in your own respective towns. It’s the Jon Favreau passion project called Chef. Chef is as close to a family film as you’re going to get in the Foodie movie category, it’s a gooey heartwarming story focused around the redevelopment of a stagnated relationship between a semi absentee father, and his prepubescent son. Favreau is a celebrity chef in the piece, and one that has reached a point in his career where he’s sort of backed into a corner creatively by obligations to the people who pay the bills. He shucks their yoke however, buys a food truck, and spends probably the best summer of his life driving from Miami to Los Angeles with his best friend, and sous chef John Leguizamo, and Favreau’s character’s son. They cook great food all across the south, and southwest of the United States, cultivating relationships together, and a great appreciation, and education in each other and of course food. It’s a sweet, modern film that utilizes some of today’s favorite social media tools, Twitter, Vine, and Instagram. Oh, also it’s got so many cameos from famous-y people, blink and you might miss ’em! But that’s okay, ’cause you learn about Cuban sandwiches, and see the most delicious grilled cheese ever being made. I made noises watching this grilled cheese, lots of noises.
About The Hunger Games franchise though, it’s no great surprise that the food aspect of the series was seemingly omitted from the plot. The film makers took thematic stance, and they did choose wisely. Food is awesome, but we all know that it’s a niche audience they’d be pleasing if they’d focused on the stew, the focus they chose was right on many levels– oppression, war, social injustice.
I’m content with the message, but damn I did want to see Katniss going gaga over the food more.
Them There Eyes