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Top 10 Food Movies

By Editorial Staff

Contributed by Aurora LaJambre, Info Guru

A great food movie is not to be watched on an empty stomach. The story may not revolve around eating, but food plays a central role in the overall setting, theme, or one delicious moment.

These films were chosen because they deliver food scenes that get under your skin, like a decadent dessert or an endless bowl of fresh pasta. Warning: these top 10 food movies may incite a craving for chocolate, sea food, French, Italian or Soul Food or all of the above.

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10. Like Water for Chocolat (1992)

Based on the novel by the same title, Like Water for Chocolat uses food to tell the story of a woman, Tita, born on a kitchen table. Her cooking shares the sorrow of her life in a magical scene when Tita’s tears fall into a wedding cake and the guests become inexplicably filled with sorrow.

9. Chocolat (2000)

For the love of chocolate, treat yourself to an undisturbed viewing of this rich fairy tale – Scene after scene drizzles, oozes and melts with chocolate on cakes, cookies and pastries. The delight of this story is not so much about making food, but in watching how it affects people: A chocolate shop opens just before lent, creating a feeding frenzy as townspeople discover hidden passions upon tasting the sweets. They soon must choose between religious eating and sacrifice.

8. Big Night (1996)

For its meticulous portrayal of food preparation, culinary traditions and chefs, Big Night is a classic foodie film. Beyond the basic storyline of two brothers opening an Italian restaurant, this film is about getting food right, and who wouldn’t love the scene when a couple orders pasta with risotto?

7. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, the surreal, slightly unnerving quality of Gene’s Wilder’s performance against a setting of flowing chocolate rivers, edible rooms and synchronized dancing Oompa Loompas plays on all of your senses. It also validates a childhood suspicion that a touch of mad-scientist-magic goes into every bite of candy.

6. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

After watching this movie, I tried fried green tomatoes and they are wonderfully satisfying. Regardless, Fried Green Tomatoes features an ensemble of four talented women who experience extreme moments of violence, passivity and courage, as well as a good food-fight and disturbing barbeque.

5. Soul Food (1997)

Based on the acclaimed Chinese film Eat Drink Man Woman, Soul Food tells the story of a Chicago family who stays united because of their weekly Sunday dinners. Food holds people together and, for many, reminds them where they’re from. (Spoiler Alert) When Mama Joe, the matriarch and family chef, is hospitalized, relationships unravel until food once again saves the day.

4. Defending Your Life (1991)

Before Julie & Julia, 18 years to be exact, Meryl Streep made another food movie that was fantastic (in my humble opinion). Also starring Albert Brooks (who wrote and directed the film), Defending Your Life is a small story based in the afterlife. When the main character is not defending his lack of assertiveness in life, he’s enjoying possibly the greatest perk you’d never expect in the afterlife: all of the food is free, ‘sensational’, and you can eat as much as you want without gaining weight. Streep and Brooks’s characters go town enjoying pasta, corn dogs, omelets and nine pies. The ‘food scenes’ may not be long or detailed, but this premise and the joy it evokes stays with you.

3. Annie Hall (1977)

The classic lobster scene with Diane Keaton (Annie) and Woody Allen (Alvy) in Annie Hall captures the hilarious momentary chaos of cooking live lobster for the first time. (Spoiler Alert) Couples who cook together may not stay together, but they share a lot of laughs and great memories whether the resulting dishes are delicious or spectacular failures.

2. Ratatouille (2007)

Could any food lover not endorse the notion that anyone can cook? Sure, ‘anyone’ in this animated French fiesta is a rat, but the film wins your over with soup and builds from there. The sheer achievement of making computer-animated food look appetizing deserves two spoons up.

1. Mostly Martha

If you don’t speak German, the subtitles are quickly forgotten as a sexy perfectionist French chef, Martha, confronts customers who question her ability to cook Duck Foie Gras. Food plays a central role in this film: Martha’s passion is confined to the kitchen until circumstances force her to leave work temporarily. Enter an eccentric Italian chef with a surplus of warmth, humor and romance, followed by an almost indecent number of food preparation scenes shot more elegantly than you may ever witness in real life or on screen. Mostly Martha is the sort of food movie you’ll watch over and over again.

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I’d be remiss not to acknowledge a few great food movies that did not make the final cut. Sorry, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Food Inc., Waitress, Babette’s Feast and My Dinner with Andre (longest dinner scene ever).


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