At the end of July, Constantin Film Austria invited a bunch of local food bloggers to a pre-screening of “The Hundred-Foot Journey” in the Artis International cinema in Vienna
It was nice to find that this blog apparently does have some readers, but I had my doubts.
A food-related movie apparently about strangers coming into a little French village and meeting with some hostility – it sounded only too much like a lukewarm ‘Chocolat.’ Especially as the director is the same.
(Sorry, but I had not heard of the novel this is an adaptation of.)
Conclusion in short: The doubts were not justified, I didn’t fall asleep but rather had a lot of fun.
The story feels somewhat akin to Chocolat, but from the pre-story with its Indian rush of colors and culinary excitement, it promises more.
Tragedy awaits, but the film soon switches gear and turns into a wonderfully comedic story of the search for a new home in which ingredients still have soul and a small war against snobbery.
Of course, a light current of love cannot be left out, cultures class and fuse.
The story would very nearly go from rags to riches, if only our chef character weren’t a talented cook of not-exactly-poor parents. Even so, he turns adept of classical French cuisine – with a beautiful snipe about the traditional cuisine of other parts of the world with hundreds, if not thousands, of years of history… “is that not classical enough for you?” – and celebrated genius of molecular and fusion cuisine.
Some of the supposed high points of the culinary creativity weren’t exactly high points to me; I doubt that the use of coriander seeds in molecular cuisine would really be celebrated and would have wished for chefs to finally think of the chilli and the potential of creating culinary fireworks. Of course I would :-p
The arc of the story, from local color to fusion to the celebration of culinary genius and on to revelations about taste and origins and true homes, however, was a great pleasure to see.
Watching the movie, I could not help thinking that I’d really want to go to France and see about the food for myself.
All the better that it all starts out with an insight about the magic of cooking and eating realities: “You want to cook, you must kill… You make ghosts.”
The best cooking, indeed, comes from the best ingredients and is a testament to the life that goes into it and that it supports, in the pleasure about great flavors.
The pleasure of eating and the passion that good food is imbued with was, I found, perfectly captured.
My recommended side dish: The Third Plate by Dan Barber, which is all about a better, ecologically fitting, agriculture through which better-tasting ingredients and dishes, greater pleasure and better, fitting ways of eating could be created.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey”, in cinemas from August 8, 2014
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