Cover of "Julie & Julia"

Cover of Julie & Julia

I recently saw Julie & Julia (I know, I’m slow) and it re-inspired me to keep trying recipes and cooking techniques that are outside of my comfort zone. It also made me really hungry. You can tell that Julia Child not only loved to cook but she also loved to eat.

Julie & Julia also made me think about the other films I’d seen that included food and cooking as an integral part of the story:

Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)

Directed by Ang Lee

The film opens with an elaborate scene in which the main character, a father and chef, prepares the weekly family meal. The story centers around a father and his three grown daughters and the conflict between the father’s traditional ways and the daughters’ desire to be independent (especially when it comes to their love lives). Food is used as a metaphor, as the chef, a widower, has lost his ability to taste and he has also lost his zest for life. And the dinner table becomes both a place of tension and conflict as well as a place of reconciliation and understanding.

Even though the film is in Mandarin, don’t let the subtitles scare you away. It’s a really good movie and manages to be funny and touching at the same time. If you’ve seen the movie Tortilla Soup with Hector Elizondo you probably get the gist (I haven’t seen that one but my guess is that it’s kind of the Latino version of EDMW).

Like Water for Chocolate (1992)

Directed by Alfonso Arau

This film is about two people in love, Tita and Pedro. The couple cannot marry because Tita’s mother wants her eldest daughter to marry first. So Tita has to live at home, sad, and take care of her mother. To be near his love, Pedro marries Tita’s sister, of course. Tita discovers that she can magically transfer her emotions to others through the food she cooks.

Again with the subtitles but so worth it.

Spanglish (2004)

Directed by James L. Brooks

Mainly for the scene when Adam Sandler makes the most delicious-looking egg sandwich and for the fact that his character is a chef. You can watch the making of the sandwich here:

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Directed by Rob Reiner

I love, love, love this movie. I saw it as a kid before I ever moved to NYC and the first time I actually went to New York in 2000 I had to see the Washington Square Arch because it was in a scene in the movie. I was disappointed to see that the arch had fencing around it (I think they were cleaning it or doing some sort of repair work). It’s funny to think that in 2000 I had no idea I’d end up attending NYU for grad school and the arch would take on a whole new meaning for me.

Many of the pivotal scenes in When Harry Met Sally take place in restaurants or involve food. And Meg Ryan’s character, Sally, has a very particular way of ordering her food (she just likes it the way she likes it) which is a telling part of her personality.

Soul Food (1997)

Directed by George Tillman, Jr.

Similar to Eat Drink Man Woman and Tortilla Soup, the weekly meal is where the all the familial drama unfolds. As someone who grew up eating my share of southern cooking I have a soft spot for this film (and it’s an African-American family).

For the wine lovers out there:

Bottle Shock (2008)

Directed by Randall Miller

The film is a somewhat-fictionalized account of how the wine industry in the US (specifically California) earned respect from the rest of the world. It’s cute (and so is Chris Pine, Dana’s favorite).

Sideways (2004)

Directed by Alexander Payne

California wine country is an interesting choice for a bachelor weekend (so is a bachelor weekend with just two guys).