A Christmas Story (1983)
A classic…pink bunny suits, department store Santas, a disastrous Christmas feast and a Red Rider BB gun….Who can’t quote this movie? Here’s my Christmas Fudge as inspired by Ralphie’s slip of the tongue.
August: Osage County (2013)
Every family is dysfunctional in its own way, but the Weston family is like a dysfunctional family squared on crack. Although this film is advertised as a comedy and there are some laugh-worthy moments, it has a dark, dark, dark story with a couple of evil and unexpected twists. Foodie film, you ask? Why yes, I answer. Johnna cooks up some delicious homemade food and you cannot forget the horrible scene around the dining room table for the funeral meal. Matriarch Violet Weston makes Joan Crawford look like mother of the year. I was inspired by one of Violet’s rants and made some “Crux of the Biscuit” Biscuits.
Babette’s Feast (1987)
The basic premise of the film is that Babette, the French cook and housekeeper that Martine and Fillipa (two elderly sisters who are trying to continue their father’s Puritanical preachings) have taken in, wants to return their kindness and cook a French feast. The sisters are a bit afraid of the decadance that this meal might include and the strange desires that this type of feast might conjure up. Babette pleads with them, “Mademoiselles… have I ever asked you for anything? Hear my prayer today. It comes from my heart.”
Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis’ characters are living the perfect little life in a quaint and perfect New England town; that is until they drive off a bridge. Unfortunately they’re dead and they don’t know it. As the new owners of their once quaint country home move in and start to wreak decorating havoc, the young deceased couple must see the help of an experience ghost, Beetlejuice. Need a cocktail while you watch? Try this one.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
While some scoff at this recommendation, I cannot help but lump this 80s classic into my “Foodie Film” list. Who do you most identify with—a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, or a criminal? (My Food ‘n Flix post is here and the round up of all the creativeness is here.)
Melissa McCarthy is hilarious. She is a comic genius. (I read that Megan’s wardrobe in the film was inspired by Guy Fieri sans the pearls.) Here’s my Rosemary Lemonade (spiked and un-spiked) that would be perfect for any shower event.
Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
If you’ve evern been a singleton thirty-something with body image angst, you will relate to this film (and earlier book). If you love Colin Firth, you will love this movie as well. Here’s a cocktail to make as you watch the film: Singleton Cosmo.
Big Night (1996)
Italian immigrant brothers strive to keep their authentic restaurant open in 1950s New Jersey. What’s the problem? Their food is too authentic for American tastes. Their rival (and friend) Pascal has successfully found the Italian food niche that Americans love. He offers advice and an unbelievable opportunity for the brothers—one big night to cater for famed singer Louis Primo. This is a last ditch effort to keep the bank at bay and keep the restaurant open. (You can read about the food from Big Night here.)
Adam Jones is a conflicted, driven, and self-centered chef. He wants to make food that people stop eating; he wants to make food that makes people “sick with longing.” One of his proteges describes him as the Rolling Stone of chefs trying to become Yoda. The plot moves quickly. In little time we see Jones shucking his 1,000,000th oyster in New Orleans (part of his self-imposed penance) to assembling a hodgepodge culinary crew.to the opening of Adam Jones at The Langham. Here’s a haute cuisine inspired cocktail made with Pineapple Confit Infused Rum.
Quirky little tale about the high pressure competitive world of the Iowa State Fair butter carving contest with Jennifer Garner, Ty Burrell, Olliva Wilde, and Hugh Jackman. Here’s some Sage Compound Butter as inspired by this fun little tale.
Chef (written, directed, and starring Jon Favreau) is the story of a passionate, fiery, talented chef in Los Angeles, working for a restaurant owner (Dustin Hoffman) who is happy with the status quo. He is stifled by the environment but does the owner’s bidding, even as a high-profile food critic is in the house. The results are disastrous for Carl. His public tirade against the critic (played by Oliver Platt) is documented on social media and soon goes viral. Carl is fired and is blacklisted in the LA area. His ex-wife, Inez, (sympathetically played by Sofia Vergara) helps him get a food truck and a cross country trip ensues. Cuban sandwiches play an important role and here is my rendition.
Sometimes food inspiration can be found in the most unlikely places, like in a post-Apocalyptic, cannibalistic, dark comedy with French subtitles. I loved this little film and was inspired to make a Cracked Wheat Salad for this cracked little comedy.
Eat Drink Man Woman (Yin shi nan nu) (1994)
This may be the quintessential food lover’s dream film. Ang Lee, the gifted director, makes food the star of this family dramedy. It inspired me to whip up a stir fry and fried rice.
French Kiss (1995)
A neurotic American (trying to gain Canadian status) flees to France to win back her fiance from a French hottie. Along the way, she is thrown together with Luc, a petty thief. This is a true rom-com in the Meg Ryan 1990s tradition. I whipped up a French (as inspired by Dorie Greenspan) salad: Red Rice Salad (loaded with veggies).
Julie Taymor (of Broadway’s Lion King fame) directs the film. Be prepared for some surrealist and fantastical scenes. Also be prepared for some great performances by Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Edward Norton, Antonia Banderas, Ashley Judd, Geoffrey Rush, et al. Here’s a Mexican Feast to go along with the film.
A Good Year (2006)
I love the plot premise. I love watching Russell Crowe. I love the scenery. I think I will read the Peter Mayle book but I don’t think I will watch the film again. For my Food ‘n Flix post and an herbed olive recipe, click here.
The Help (2011)
You would have had to have been hiding under a rock not to be aware of this novel and the subsequent film. Enjoy all the Southern-fried food in this film that shows the narrow-minded, bigoted ways of the South during the Civil Rights Era. For my Southern-fried take on the film, click here.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
The best Halloween film ever. Truly, what a fun film in true Disney fashion. A mostly family film, with the exception of a few virgin jokes, it’s the tale of three Salem witches which get resurrected on a dark and story Halloween night. Here’s a couple of witchy cocktails to get you through the scary parts.
Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)
There’s an interesting family meal in this hotel that features the coming together of humans and vampires as a humorous battle of wills to see if the grandson will be more vampire or more human. Here’s a Vampire Blood cocktail to help you root for one side or the other.
The Hunger Games (2012)
Yes, I know this is a weird pick for a “Food in Film” genre. There is definitely more food inspiration in the novel but I enjoyed this film just the same. For my film inspired food, click here.
The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)
After a tragedy, an Indian family immigrates to France to open a restaurant. A rivalry ensues as one of the sons reaches chef rock star status. The film stars Helen Mirren and Om Puri as the rival restaurateurs. I made both Two-Potato Vindaloo and Boeuf Bourginon to celebrate both this film and the novel by Richard Morais.
I Am Love (2009)
Tilda Swinton (Emma) is always luminescent but she is even more so as the Russian born wife of a wealthy Italian textile magnate. She was glowing throughout the film and not just in the food porn prawn scene or the other literal sex scenes. The youngest daughter, Betta, is played by Alba Rohrwacher. A plot parallel develops concerning both the mother and daughter’s awakenings. Betta confides in her mother that she is in love with her female art instructor. Emma, of course, is finding herself in a young chef. In the final scene, Betta and her mother share a knowing look, an acknowledgement that each knows the other’s secrets, triumphs, hardships and joys in their respective found loves. Here is a dish that is made in the film: Insalata Russa.
It’s Complicated (2009)
Jane Adler (Meryl Streep) is a beautiful “woman-of-a-certain-age” who has seemingly triumphed after her divorce. So much so, that she is still on good terms with her ex, Jake Adler (played by Alec Baldwin). That leads to the complication of the title. Jane cooks up some beautiful pastry and food in this film in an absolutely beautiful kitchen. For my Croque Monsieur dish inspired by this film, click here.
Jane Austen Book Club (2007)
Jocelyn’s grief over a companion’s death is the catalyst for the forming of this club. Other club members include Bernadette, the backbone of the club and serves as a matriarchal figure; Sylvia who is trying to recover from a divorce; Allegra, Sylvia’s daughter who soon moves in with her mother to watch over her after the divorce; Prudie, a newcomer to these four previous friends; and Grigg, the token male of the group. To go along with their club meetings, there is always food perhaps like this Curry Rice Salad.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
Watching this octogenarian who has dedicated his life to the art of this one facet of Japanese cuisine caused me to pause. This art is his passion and his life’s work. He knows nothing else and I think he himself is a bit taken aback by the stir he has caused in the culinary world. Simply put, all he is doing is buying the very best ingredients, preparing them to the best of his ability, and continuing to improve and grow. Jiro is doing what he loves. For my Food ‘n Flix post, click here.
Here’s a feel good holiday movie (not). The Engel family, parents Tom and Sarah and siblings Max and Beth, find themselves literally in the midst of a hectic and stressful Christmas season. They are eagerly awaiting (more facetiousness) the arrival of Linda (Sarah’s sister ), her huband Howard, the hellion-cousins (Howie Jr, Stevie, Jordan) and Baby Chrissy. Aunt Dorothy and Omi (grandmother) round out this family cast of characters. Here’s some comfort food that is much needed in this film: Green Chili Mac ‘n Cheese with Andouille Sausage.
Like Water for Chocolate(1992)
I cannot imagine a sweeter character than Tita. And, I can’t imagine a more unsympathetic and bitter character than that of Mama Elena. I adored the characters in the novel, but on the screen, I was a bit annoyed with their actions. Now, I sympathized with Tita, but I wanted to just shake her at times and tell her to “Snap outta’ it!” and leave her feelings for Pedro behind. Maybe it was the casting of a baby-faced Pedro, but seriously, I didn’t see the appeal. Here is a dish that Tita makes in the film (and novel): Chorizo Stuffed Chiles in Walnut Sauce.
The Lunch Box (2013)
In the chaotic world of Mumbai where everyone is rushing off to work and dabbawallahs work meticulously to pick up and deliver lunches for the working folk, there is a calm reprieve in Ila’s kitchen as she, with the help of the upstairs Auntie, prepares food for an inattentive husband. With each recipe that she packs into the traditional tiffins, she hopes to impress and gain some meager recognition from her spouse. Here is something that might show up in a tiffin: Paneer Kofta.
Mistress of Spices (2005)
A mystical and beautiful Indian spice mistress finds herself stationed outside of San Francisco. Her charge? Dole out spices, wisdom, and remedies to her Indian community and beyond. Because of her “vows of spices,” she cannot ever leave her shop, touch another human being, or fall in love. Enter Dylan McDermott’s character. You can see where this is going. A cute film that makes me want to read the book by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. For my Indian inspired meal, click here.
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
All families are dysfunctional… it is just the degree of dysfunctionality that one could argue. But, family is family…no matter what continent one is on. Family will aggravate and terrorize. Family will support and love. I enjoyed this film of a father trying to make the perfect day for his little girl while trying to keep his family together, welcome a new son-in-law, and keep up traditions. It is also about a daughter, perhaps caught between tradition and the modern, who must break ties with her past. Monsoon Wedding inspired Mango-Chai Yogurt Popsicles.
Cher’s character, Loretta Castorini, is a “plain Jane” bookkeeper from Brooklyn. She has agreed to marry her late-husband’s best friend (Vincent Gardenia). Major plot twist—she falls for his brother, played by Nicholas Cage. There is a lot of Italian tradition in this film, both in food and custom. The food inspired Sicilian Pizza and many other dishes.
Mystic Pizza (1988)
Mystic Pizza is the tale of three young women finding their way while working at a pizza shop in a small fishing town in Connecticut. To them, their hometown has little to offer. One has her sights set on leaving it all behind and attending Yale. One does not want to “settle” for her hometown boyfriend. One might find love and a “way out” with a rich country club kid. Obviously pizza has a starring role (along with Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts, and Lili Taylor). Here’s my Mystical Autumn Pizza.
Pieces of April (2003)
As is often the case with family holiday meals, dysfunctionality runs rampant. The free spirit April is a twenty-something who has been estranged from her family for some time, especially her mother. To bring everyone together, she invites everyone to the city for a homecooked meal. I wanted to assist her at every turn. Roasted Garlic Skinny Mashed Potatoes would have been my contribution.
Popeye tells the tale of the town of Sweethaven, a down-on-its-luck seaside shanty town ruled by the mysteriously absent Commodore (and the brutish Bluto). Popeye arrives and finds himself an adoptive father to a baby, falls in love with a tall disagreeable drink of water, is reunited with his ol’ pappy, and helps the town liberate itself. (Aside: This is far from my favorite film). Here’s a great salad though: Spinach Salad with Sweet Peas.
Practical Magic (1998)
A family of female witches with a curse upon them…that is the premise of this chick flick. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are the two sisters, one a free spirit and one trying to escape what life has to offer. There is lots of cooking in this film but most of it is of the potion variety. I was inspired to make Coconut-Pecan Mini Brownies.
The Quiet Man (1952)
Based on a short story by Maurice Walsh, this John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara classic was directed by John Ford. Not typically a “foodie” film, but there is a bit of Irish fare in the film. Of course, I made St. Patrick’s Day Spiked Cupcakes with Boozy Frosting (featuring Guinness, Bailey’s and Jameson).
Stranger than Fiction (2006)
Without giving a lot of this inventive plot away, this film is about an IRS auditor, a baker, and an author. It is ultimately about living life. I was inspired to make Chocolate Macadamia Nut Wedges.
A bromance road trip with wine. One man wants to share his knowledge of wine with his best friend. One man wants to get laid. Lots of beautiful scenery and lots of relationships to analyze. You can read about how Sideways inspired me in food here.
The Terminal (2004)
The Terminal has some star power behind it featuring Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci and directed by Steven Spielberg. This 2004 release revolves around Viktor Navorski, a tourist coming to NYC from his homeland of Krakozhia. After Viktor lands at JFK and is taken into custody by Homeland Security officials, he finds out his country had been torn apart by a revolution while he had been in the air. His Krakozhian passport is invalid and the US cannot issue him a visa. He becomes “delayed” for nine months in the International Lounge at JFK along the way finding a job and friends who become a make-shift family. I did a pizza challenge for this film.
A Walk in the Clouds (1995)
A Walk in the Cloud is set in post WWII California. The plot takes place between San Francisco and the Napa Valley. Paul Sutton (Keanu Reeves) is a decorated veteran that finds himself with a war bride that he doesn’t really know or love. (His bride is played by a tartified Debra Messing.) As he picks up his lack luster career where he left off as a traveling salesmen, he is fated to meet Victoria (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón), a young woman who is returning home pregnant and unmarried. She is terrified to tell her father, a man set in very traditional ways. Here’s some brandied grapes to nosh on while you view the film.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Boy meets girl. Boy and girl hate each other. Boy and girl meet again. Boy doesn’t remember girl. Boy and girl become best friends. Boy and girl try to date. Doesn’t work out. They fall in love. They get married. All of these plot twist along with hilariousness by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan make up this true classic. For my inspirational food, click here.
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
Yes, we are old-schooling it here. I haven’t even seen the Johnny Depp version nor do I plan on it. I remember this 1971 classic fondly and could probably recite entire scenes by heart. For a inspiration from the book, click here.
Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978)
Not the best cinematic experience, but I loved the food references and the 70s-era look to all the food styling for the magazine. I also loved Chef Natasha’s wardrobe, so vintage and chic. There were a lot of subplots as well—rekindled love, unrequited love, Robby’s drive for a famous chef to brand his newest chain. There was a lot of fluff, too. If you haven’t seen it you probably need to watch it (once). My Food ‘n Flix post is here.
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Alexandra, Sukie, and Jane represent stereotypical women in a puritanical New England village. All three women are repressed in some sense, as artists, women, mothers….Their repressed desires cause their “coven” and their women’s intuition to conjure up the devil, a devil who meets all their needs. Do they bring the evil and “local turpitude” to town? Or, is it Daryl that seeks them out? Here’s some Wicked Fruit inspired by some of the more gross scenes in the film.
Please keep up with our viewing.