Hunting and Gathering / Ensemble, c’est tout
« The smell—the fumet, more like—of the bouillon stopped her from brooding. Mmm, it was wonderful; she almost felt like draping her napkin over her head to better inhale the steam. What on earth was in it? It was a very particular color: warm, oily, golden brown, cadmium yellow. With the translucent pearls and the emerald slivers of chopped herb, it was a joy to behold. She stayed like that for a few seconds, respectfully, with her spoon poised. Then, quite slowly because it was very hot, she took her first sip…»
I’m reading Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda. It started from the film and now I can’t tear oneself away from the book. It’s not about food (yet one of the main characters is a chef who made this consommé) but very elegant and French. A wonderful story. If you haven’t seen or read – I highly recommend! ❤
I’ll go read ahead.
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Today we are talking about a lovely, atmospheric and interesting film about cooking – The Hundred-Foot Journey. This was the first firm I watched in the cinema in Austria. I didn’t speak German very well back then so I watched it in original in an English cinema. It’s a charming, extraordinary and positive story about a talented cook who moved with his family from India to France. About two competing restaurants 100 foot from each other. About love, talent, cooking, family. Amazing nature, delicious food, handsome characters, charming soundtracks and a happy end. After watching this film, you will have a sunny felling that everything will be right and just fine!
I’m going to tell you something interesting about the firm, and, traditionally, about the book it’s based on.
So, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a 2014 American film based on Richard Morais’ 2010 novel of the same name. No wonder that the film is so incredibly fantastic – it was produced by director, producer, and screenwriter with innumerable awards Steven Spielberg and talk show host, actress, public person and Oscar winner Oprah Winfrey. By the way, in 2017 Oprah published a culinary book («Food, Health, and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life»). But that is not what this review is about.
Starring: Madame Mallory, a proprietor of a French restaurant is played by wonderful English actress, Oscar and other awards winner Helen Mirren. An interesting fact about her is that her father was Russian and her mother was English. The actress was born Helen Lydia Mironoff in London suburbs. Later her father anglicized his and his daughter’s names.
Talented chef Hassan Kadam is played by Indian American actor Manish Dayal. His father who took his family from India and opened an Indian restaurant in France just opposite to Madam Mallory’s one, was played by Indian actor Om Puri, now-deceased, unfortunately. Charlotte Le Bon, a French actress born in Quebec plays a pretty Frenchwoman, talented chef and sous chef at the French restaurant.
The collaboration of such a great cast and producers couldn’t but resulted in a fantastic film! I recommend you watch it if you haven’t yet. We often watch it with great pleasure.
What can I say about Richard Morais’ The Hundred-Foot Journey novel? It’s different. This is a case when a book and a film are so completely different. They differ in plot, mood, main idea, and, I would say, genre. The book is interesting – it points out problems of traditional and modern trends in French culinary. But it the film was the exact reflection of the book, it wouldn’t become such a beautiful piece of cinematographic art! Praise to the scriptwriters, directors, producers and everyone who had a hand in the production. If you ask me what I would recommend – to see the film or to read the book – I would definitely recommend the film! But with all my love for books – this is rather an extraordinal answer for me. Enjoy the film!
Como agua para chocolate/Like Water for Chocolate
Today I am talking about another special film…and book. This is not a new film, but an ageless one, where every look, scene and line matters.
The film is about culinary, talent, love, passion and fate. It’s a drama, naturally. Though it’s not just a drama, it’s a Mexican drama (hence the film’s a hundred times more dramatic) – Like Water for Chocolate.
In 1989 Mexican writes and screenwriter Laura Esquivel published her novel – Like Water for Chocolate. Her husband, a famous Mexican director, Alfonso Arau, adapted it in a film in1992 where Laura Esquivel was a screenwriter. Maybe this is why the film turned out so harmonious that you get absorbed in it from the very first minute. I’m not going to explain you the plot in order not to spoil your watching, but this film is just marvelous yet dramatic.
The novel Like Water for Chocolate is no less noteworthy. The novel is created in a very interesting genre – magical realism which combines realistic view of the world and magical elements, such as legends, myths, miracles. Besides, Mexican realism is INCREDIBLY realistic – some scenes in this book can make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Each chapter starts with a recipe for a Mexican dish, so it feels like you are reading a culinary book of life. Although the events in the book and film are similar, the book is perceived differently.
I recommend you that you read the book and watch the film – no matter which first – this is the kind of works that are unforgettable and soul ennobling.
A few quotes from the book:
“…She turned her head, and her eyes met Pedro’s. It was then she understood how dough feels when it is plunged into boiling oil. The heat that invaded her body was so real she was afraid she would start to bubble—her face, her stomach, her heart, her breasts—like batter, and unable to endure his gaze she lowered her eyes and hastily crossed the room…”
“…My grandmother said that each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves; just as in the experiment, we need oxygen and a candle to help. In this case, the oxygen, for example, would come from the breath of the person you love; the candle could be any kind of food, music, caress, word, or sound that engenders the explosion that lights one of the matches. For a moment we are dazzled by an intense emotion. A pleasant warmth grows within us, fading slowly as time goes by, until a new explosion comes along to revive it. Each person has to discover what will set off those explosions in order to live, since the combustion that occurs when one of them is ignited is what nourishes the soul…”
“…Those huge stars have lasted for millions of years by taking care never to absorb any of the fiery rays lovers all over the world send up at them night after night. To avoid that, the star generates so much heat inside itself that it shatters the rays into a thousand pieces. Any look it receives is immediately repulsed, reflected back onto the earth, like a trick done with mirrors. That is the reason the stars shine so brightly at night…”
Julie & Julia
Today we are going to talk about the film which was mentioned in comments to the previous post of the topic – Julie & Julia.
Be sure – the firm is fantastic! (I was writing a review yesterday and couldn’t help watching it again!). Very interesting and inspiring! You really must see it!!! High spirits and motivation are guaranteed! Something about the film and its main characters.
This is a 2009 American film based on a real story of young culinary blogger Julia Powell, who became famous by her culinary challenge: she aspired to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days. She vividly described each day on her blog.
But that’s not the point! And it’s not what the film is about! The story line of Julia Powell’s is more like a contemporary canvas by means of which is woven an incredible story of Julia Child – a woman who brought French cuisine to America. If you are still unfamiliar with Julia Child’s books or culinary shows – I recommend you immediately check them out. There are many episodes of her culinary show on YouTube. They are quite ‘retro’ yet still very interesting and educational. I have her Mastering the Art of French Cooking – it’s a real French cooking guide! When I cook a French dish I will always refer to Julia first :).
Let’s get back to the film. Cast is a smash! Julia Child is played by out-and-outer Meryl Streep. Her laugh in the film is so infectious that you involuntary start laughing along. Child’s husband, who supported her on her way to success, is played by charming Stanley Tucci (the star duet straight out of The Devil Wears Prada). And beautiful Amy Adams as Julie Powell.
The film is adapted from two books: My Life in France, Julia Child’s autobiography, and a memoir by Julie Powell, Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously.
I can keep on talking but you’d better watch this film!
Bella Martha & No reservations
The first film I want to tell you about was chosen of its own accord on the threshold of my trip to Germany the other weekend. It’s a 2001 Bella Martha. The film is so European – interiors, appearances, costumes, colors – everything is so calm, real, pleasant, subtle. Each scene, each dialogue, each look tells something important other than entertaining. Four countries toiled at this picture – Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. The director and screenwriter is German Sandra Nettelbeck. The lead actress is German as well – Martina Gedeck – a woman with beauty coming from within.
The scene is laid in Hamburg. Martha is a star chef working in a French restaurant. She’s talented at cooking but lonely. I’m not going to tell the whole story for those who haven’t seen it yet. The only thing I will reveal is that Martha’s life circumstances will change considerably – there will be fortunes, misfortunes and a super charming Italian guy.
I highly recommend you watch this film. If you did, do it once again! I enjoy watching it from time to time as this is one of those films where you take pleasure in every scene, even if it’s a well-known one.
A few words about a 2007 American remake adopted from Nettelbeck’s original script. It’s No reservations with absolute beauty and remarkable actress Catherine Zeta-Jones in the lead role. Actually, I adore Catherine Zeta-Jones and I would love the remake if I didn’t see and loved Bella Martha. No reservations was too much for me: too flamboyant, too loud, too beautiful and too…unrealistic. The smiles were too shining and I had the feeling that they wanted nothing but entertain me. I missed that deepness and real characters, serious workaholic Martha and the Italian charmer…But! Both films are high rated, so check out both of them. I will be waiting for your reviews!
Enjoy the films!
Today I feel like talking about films, or, more precisely, about “mouth-watering films”, where the lead role is played by culinary, chefs or food. Have you ever noticed that in some films characters don’t eat at all, meaning that food doesn’t matter at all, and in others it stresses the atmosphere, lines, actions, fact, mood and in others again food becomes the main motive or character? From time to time I will be sharing with you my impressions about the two latter categories – about films with food in the lead role. As I mentioned before, I will express my subject opinion, that is how I felt or saw one or another film, but that doesn’t mean that you will like or dislike them. I will always recommend watch by yourself to form your individual opinion as all the pictures I will be talking about are worth your attention and time. Sometimes I will compare films and books as I always try to find authentic stories the films are based on and find more about them. If you have already watched the film/book I will be happy to hear your opinion/impression on them! Especially if you have a different view 🙂 So, let’s start. The next post is about my favorite European film and its confusing American remake.
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