Like salt and pepper, tomatoes and mozzarella, bacon and… well… everything, food and film just go well together. Whether it’s the actual acts of eating and film-watching (AKA dinner and a movie), or the omni-presence of food in film, the two are inextricably (and deliciously linked.) And when the film is actually about food? I guarantee by the time you get out of the theater you have a craving for whatever you just saw served on screen. So this list is for you food-lovers out there – some of the best films for foodies, with suggested recipes (of course!) included. Time to put on your eatin’ pants folks – we’ve got some movies to watch.

Chocolat

Which would you rather give up for Lent: chocolate or Johnny Depp? Decisions, decisions.

Which would you rather give up for Lent: chocolate or Johnny Depp? Decisions, decisions.

Set in mid-20th century France, this whimsical film follows mysterious chocolatier Vianne (Juliette Binoche) as she turns a conservative provincial town upside down by opening a chocolate shop smack dab in the middle of Lent. You’ll drool over Vianne’s creations, as well as the superb cast – Alfred Molina, Johnny Depp, and Dame Judi Dench, to name a few. The moral of the story is that there’s a chocolate cure for whatever ails you – lackluster marriage, a lonely heart, control freakery, even diabetes… wait, no, not that last one… but everything else can be cured by one of Vianne’s concoctions – just the excuse you needed to indulge!

What to eat/drink
You simply cannot watch this movie without having some of the titular substance nearby. I tried once; I failed. And then I ended up eating something gross like Hershey’s because that’s all I had. Learn from my mistakes –  try these super-easy truffles, or this Venezuelan hot chocolate that I wager is a close approximation of what Vianne sells in her shop. Or, you know, both, because why not?

Sideways

Put down the bucket Miles. Miles, put it... Miles! Nooooo!

Put down the bucket Miles. Miles, put it… Miles! Nooooo!

While we’re discussing substances often given up for Lent, let’s talk wine! Sideways follows Miles (Paul Giamatti), a middle-aged wine connoisseur tasting his way through California wine country while his life and his sanity slowly unravel. Who can forget that climactic scene where Miles completely loses his shit and guzzles the contents of the wine spit bucket? (Feel free to shout at your TV during this scene, but trust me, it will not deter him in the least.) He falls even further when he cracks open the 1961 Château Cheval Blanc he’s been saving for years and downs it all in a drunken disaster of an evening. Hopefully your evening will not end thusly.

What to eat/drink
Wine. Obviously. Preferably from California – Sonoma, Napa, etc. More importantly is how you drink it. When Miles thrusts his beak in a glass, you do it too. When he swirls a ruby-like cabernet around oh-so-expertly, follow his lead… just not over your beige couch, which you’re sure to ruin. When he spits though, do NOT spit. I think it should be a sin to spit out good wine. Also, like I said, you’ll ruin your couch. And just so you don’t end up totally sloshed, you might want to serve some cheese. Most importantly, don’t be sad like Miles. Please invite friends to watch and imbibe with you.

Julie & Julia

Oh Meryl, you saucy minx you!

Oh Meryl, you saucy minx you!

Julia Child once said, “I love to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food I’m cooking.” This is why I love her, and Meryl Streep turned in an Oscar-worthy portrayal in this movie. I would suggest a bit of wine with this movie as well; trust me, you’ll enjoy it a lot more. Julia’s story is, of course, already movie-worthy: a former spy who demystified French cooking and brought it to American kitchens everywhere in her typical brash fashion. Julie’s story is less compelling, although I was impressed by her dedication to cooking every damn recipe in Child’s book. I was even inspired to pick up my own copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking – I bet you were too.

What to eat/drink

You won’t catch me de-boning any ducks, but I did try the classic Beouf Bourgignon. Fair warning: if you make this recipe, you will be able to watch the movie at least 3 times through before you eat! I do not recommend it unless you have a lot of extra time on your hands, a sous-chef, and/or enjoy skinning many many pearl onions. Try this simpler Soupe au Pistou, a combination of Child’s recipe and my own host mom’s.

Babette’s Feast

Turtle soup, anyone?

Turtle soup, anyone?

What? You say you’ve never heard of this movie? Well that’s why we at Audiences Everywhere are here. This 1987 Danish film (yes, you’ll have to read subtitles, don’t be a baby about it) tells the story of a French refugee (Babette) who comes to live with two elderly sisters in a conservative, isolated town on the coast of Denmark. For 14 years she serves the ladies bland dish after bland dish, as befitting a Proper protestant palette – but in stark contrast to the sumptuous dishes she was used to cooking in France. When Babette wins the lottery she decides to throw a true French feast, the likes of which the townsfolk have never seen or tasted before. Though at first they are scandalized by the exotic menu and ingredients (turtle soup! quails in puff pastry with foie gras and truffle!), they all experience the freeing and redemptive powers that can only be wrought by a truly perfect meal.

What to eat/drink

If you really want to attempt Babette’s menu you can find it all here, but I do not suggest it, as we did not win the lottery like Babette. And, you know, good turtle is so hard to find these days… Instead try this approximation of Babette’s endive and walnut salad, or this crowd-pleasing Spinach and Mushroom-Stuffed Beef Tenderloin with Truffled Wine Sauce. And of course serve with an excellent wine to match (but don’t ask me, I’m terrible at wine pairings!)

Ratatouille

You haven't lived until you've risked your life for a hunk of cheese.

You haven’t lived until you’ve risked your life for a hunk of cheese.

No respectable list of foodie films would be complete without this Pixar gem. If you’re reading this list you’re probably like Remy, impassioned by the nuances of food and the magic of combining flavors, and forever trying to share your love of gastronomy with your non-foodie friends. Your friends, on the other hand, are either a) like Emil (Remy’s brother), who would just as soon eat a food as its wrapper, or b) like Linguini, a walking disaster in the kitchen who wouldn’t know a ladle from a whisk …. but who wants to learn. I don’t know that I believe in Gusteau’s motto of “Anyone can cook;” there is a fine and important distinction between can and should that ought to be remembered, especially in the kitchen. But this movie reminds us that there is always room for innovation in cooking, even (and perhaps especially) from the most surprising of cooks.

What to eat/drink
The recipe choice here is obvious. But which iteration of ratatouille to make? The movie shows us two versions: the traditional provencal dish, served chunky in a steaming bowl (Julia Child’s classic version, of course); and Remy’s “perspective-giving” version, with delicately scalloped veggies arranged perfectly in a casserole dish (from my favorite modern cook, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen). Same ingredients, different presentations, equally delish.

Chef

Dave - give me a good caption here.

Done right, food can even repair broken homes.

This movie is for the street meat lovers (I’m talking to you, Keith Rice). Any self-respecting foodie knows that the new wave of gastronomy is happening in food trucks, and Chef reinforces this point. Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) falls from grace and finds himself and his passion again by opening up a food truck. Favreau even took cooking lessons in preparation for the film. Chef is a film so astute and learned in its subject craft, that it’s harnessed praise from some of the world’s most famous chefs for its kitchen accuracy, and the final product noticeably benefits.  Between the film’s warmhearted and patiently presented storyline and its passionately presented cuisine, the only downside to this theatergoing experience is the ensuing the heart and the stomach, between the screen and the concession stand outside.  As wonderful a film as Chef is, it may be better suited for home viewing experience with all of your intended dishes served before you hit “Play.”

What to eat/drink

You cannot watch this film without getting a hankering for some greasy food truck goodness, and that is just what I am going to give you. You, too, can whip up Carl’s Mojo Pork Cubanos, and even (be still my beating heart) Yucca Fries with Banana Ketchup. What the hell is a yucca, you ask? (And by the way, it’s pronounced yoo-kah, not yuck-a.) Yucca is a root and is sort of potato-like. Now the better question is, where the hell do you buy a yucca? Jury’s out on that one folks, sorry. But if you can find one I bet they make some damned tasty fries. Especially with banana ketchup. And beer.

Food, Inc.

A.K.A.  grocery stores are ruined for me forever. Thanks.

A.K.A. grocery stores are ruined for me forever. Thanks.

This 2009 documentary on the industrialization of American agriculture turned the food industry on its ear and forever changed the way we think about our food, especially commercially-raised meat. Makes you think the vegans might have a point, doesn’t it? Except for bacon… oh, bacon. But the good news is this movie doesn’t condemn all farms – just the soul-sucking, ruining-our-planet-and-our-digestive-systems kind of farms. Your local farmer is probably freakin’ awesome, crazy knowledgeable/ethical, and actually likes his hooved and feathered charges! Not to mention he grows orgasmic tomatoes. Like, organically.

What to eat/drink
Something, anything, from your local farmer’s market. And maybe lay off the meat, just for good measure, until you can scrub this movie’s images from your mind. Try this super-versatile Vegetable Korma and this oh-so-fresh Green Bean, Corn, and Avocado Salad, and make a few extra trips to the farmer’s market. You know, you might even be inspired to join a CSA, or start Meatless Mondays! Go whole-hog! (What, too soon?)

 

That’s all for now, fellow film foodies. What do you think – did we miss any? What recipes would you suggest?