Nine Movies About Food


I'm hungry, so I decided to make a list about movies that deal with food – and I mean movies that are all about food. Movies filled with food. Movies infatuated with food. It's funny that, with food such an important part of our lives, there are actually very few movies that focus on food as a central theme. It's also notable that, of the nine films I'm listing, they come from all corners of the world – there is, after all, no topic as universal as food.

  1. Babette's Feast (Denmark, 1987). A beautiful little story about two elderly, highly religious sisters in an isolated Danish village who take on a French woman as their cook, and what happens when the cook decides to prepare an exotic feast for the people in the village. Some astonishing dishes and dry humor are featured in this simple, elegant, and very moving film.
  2. Tampopo (Japan, 1985). Extremely wacky (and extremely funny) comedy about a woman attempting to make the best ramen noodles in Japan. Tampopo literally goes all over the map, with random comic vignettes featuring various Japanese citizens, unrelated except for their obsessions with food.
  3. Like Water for Chocolate (Mexico, 1992). Celebrated film about a young woman's magical dishes that affect the emotions of her family and friends, based on Laura Esquivel's romantic novel that actually includes the recipes used in the story.
  4. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (UK, 1989). Peter Greenaway's notorious orgy of food, sex, violence, art, and history made headlines for helping to create America's NC-17 rating for adult films, but it too is full of food in all its forms – some tasty, some obscene, some repugnant, and some absolutely appalling. Witty and very stylish, with terrific acting (including a young Tim Roth), but not for all tastes.
  5. Eat Drink Man Woman (Taiwan, 1994). Whimsical and thoughtful story of an aging master chef and his three single daughters; this family, despite the chaos of their individual lives, maintains a tradition of gathering together each week to indulge in the father's sumptuous and fabulous home-cooked Chinese feasts. I ran to the nearest Chinese restaurant after seeing this film.
  6. La Grand Bouffe (France/Italy, 1973). Four middle-class men decide to get together and commit suicide – by eating themselves to death. Disgusting, graphic abuse of food, but frequently funny. Most definitely not for all tastes.
  7. Big Night (US, 1996). Two brothers desperately try to keep their gourmet Italian restaurant alive in a country (America) where everybody's preference for "Italian" food is spaghetti and meatballs. Some amazing, hilariously mouth-watering dishes are cooked up throughout. You may gain weight just by watching.
  8. 301, 302 (South Korea, 1995). Two women share adjoining apartments in a building: one is a professional cook, the other an anorexic writer. The cook takes it upon herself to cure her neighbor's disease by preparing extravagant meals for her every night – only to have them continually uneaten. This strange movie with a very dark ending nevertheless manages to celebrate the joy of fabulous food.
  9. Eating (US, 1990). A group of women gather together at a birthday party and basically talk about food for an hour and a half. A bit more talking than eating in this film, and there's not much onscreen food, but it's still an amusing and truthful look at why we love to eat.