I love films about food. Films with a food theme are seldom just about food: Julie & Julia, Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate), Eat Drink Man Woman and Ratatouille depict bonds that are forged, broken and reconciled over food. One of human’s basest instincts is not merely satisfied by consumption, but also the experiential discernment in taste and the interwoven complexities of tradition, pride and innovation (or resistance thereto!).
The Hundred-Foot Journey – directed by Lasse Hallström (director of yet another food movie that I like, Chocolat) – tells the story of cultures separated by the titular “hundred-foot’. A family of tandoori restaurateurs from India, the Kadams, first sought asylum in the UK, and then moved to Europe because “the vegetables of England have no soul, no life”. In their quest of finding a new home, the family settled in a small village in France near the Swiss border (apparently the idyllic location was filmed in the Midi Pyrenees – one of the regions I have lusted for a while!) There, they set up Maison Mumbai, a mere 100 feet away from the one-Michelin star French restaurant Le Saule Pleureur run by the uppity Madame Mallory. As her new neighbours open their restaurant, Madame Mallory bemoans “the death of class”. Competition ensues.
Like any other good movie about food, this film is a visual feast: luxuriant plump tomatos, tandoori over crackling fire, and multiple shots of golden perfect yolks sliding into glass bowls, ready to be whipped into a fluffy omelette or emulsified into scintillating hollandaise. I’m getting hungry as I write this – be sure you don’t watch the movie on an empty stomach.
Yes, it’s a ‘feel-good’ movie. It is about food, and it is comforting.