Bits and Bites

Oops, wasn’t I supposed to be on vacation? Well I am, but I was feeling so guilty for abandoning you for so long that I decided to stop by and share a few bites to tide you over. And, well, it could possibly be that two weeks of uninterrupted relaxation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…but you didn’t hear that from me!

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Ever wished you could see what really goes on behind the scenes of a professional food photo shoot? Well, this ain’t it, but it is awfully funny.

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1402012047_8c567e3125.jpg Thanks to British Airways and their new ‘entertainment on demand’ system, I had a choice of over twenty movies to watch at my leisure on my flight over, which almost made the nine hours in a sardine can bearable. While I’m usually happy watching anything on planes as long as it takes my mind off the tedium, rarely do I see something I enjoy so much I’d almost consider staying on the plane for the return flight just to see it again. Waitress was one of those movies. In case you missed this wonderfully poignant indie film about love, pies, and pregnancy go ahead and place a big red circle around November 27 on your calendar because that’s when it’ll be out on DVD. The movie is funny, witty and wise with superb acting and first-rate pie porn, but what makes it so heartbreakingly compelling is actually knowing the tragedy that happened behind the scenes. Sweet, sad and highly recommended.

And since we’re on the topic, what are some of your favorite food-centric flicks?

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There’s been some heated debate making the rounds recently about what to call food-focused people. I must be living under a rock, because I had no idea that the consensus for many people is that the term foodie is as passé as cucumber foam, implying culinary elitism and a slavish devotion to trends. It’s not exactly clear to me which term is poised to take its place – chowhound? epicure? food freak? – but whether you agree with it or not, it would seem that self-designation as a foodie is now verging on a political statement.

Let me just say that when I was first discovering food, none of these terms yet existed. When my parents wanted to tell their friends how into food I was, they called me a ‘gourmet cook’. In fact, they still do. The funny thing is that nothing makes me cringe as much as this term; aside from the fact that my interest in food extends far beyond cooking, I’ve always interpreted it as implying that I’m the kind of person who insists on sticking sundried tomatoes in everything and would sooner cut off my arm than serve my guests supermarket-quality balsamic vinegar (neither of which, incidentally, could be further from the truth). At any rate, after years of silently rebelling against gourmet cook, I welcomed the term foodie when it came along, despite the fact that it sounded kind of funny, since here at last was a term that simply conveyed a passion for food, whatever type of food and in whatever capacity that may be. Little did I suspect that within a few short years even this term would carry its own connotations of culinary snobbery, but as linguists are so fond of saying (okay, maybe they’re not, but they should be), the only guarantees in life are death, taxes and semantic shift.

Nevertheless, it kind of puts me in a quandary. I’m not ready to go back to being a ‘gourmet cook’, and none of the other current options quite tickles my fancy either. Thanks to Tea and her grandfather, though, I think I’ve found the solution. Next time anybody even starts to debate food monikers around me, I’ll whip this out of my hat:

"You can call me whatever you want, just don’t call me late for dinner."

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30 thoughts on “Bits and Bites

  1. It’s a toss up between "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman" or "Babette’s Feast". I absolutely adore your blog and am so jealous of your living in Scotland. I have only ever been there once but immediately fell in love.Cheers!

  2. That video is too funny! I don’t really understand the backlash against "foodie," though maybe a parallel might be "feminist." It’s a word that pretty well captures a dedication to certain ideas and principles but has ended up connoting the extreme end of the spectrum.My favorite food movie is "Mostly Martha."

  3. Early in our courtship David won me over by introducing me to ‘Tampopo'; a year later, I decided Deborah Madison really was a kindred spirit when she referenced the film in a chapter on making omelettes.Enjoy your holiday!

  4. stick hard and fast to the term foodie! I’m with you on that! This *is* a battle cry!my brother teases me when he terms me a "gourmet". "why are you getting into arguments about the definiton of vinnaigrette?, why bother with the percentage and origin of cocoa in your chocolate? what’s so important about that? why dig into those tiny details? It doesn’t really matter."my mother says "gourmet is redundant, I don’t like playing with food, simple is best"… you see, that’s exactly the reason the term "foodie" was created!because exactly as you say, food is so much more than just being "gourmet"… food is about people, it’s about culture, it has a a close link to music as a kin art and what a sensory art-form food is!The Italians understand it so well, I admire them for that. You know, I have a feeling that this resistance people have against "foodies" or "gourmet" stems from a deep-seated feeling of guilt. Christianity deems gluttony a cardinal sin, Judaism also has some reference to that (not in the same words but similar meaning)… the message seems to be: don’t insist on quality, settle always for the lowest common denominator, don’t ask, don’t inquire, don’t aspire for more. This applies to food because from this basic realm, the broadening of one’s mind and senses applies to other fields.But foodie is not "gourmet". Foodie is a people-oriented food lover. because food is about people, and that’s that. Cocoa from ecuador also means the people who grow it, chocolate with chillies forms a direct link to an ancient, magnificent culture gone extinct. Food is culture, history, people.so yes, I AM A FOODIE! LOUD AND PROUD, PERIOD.As for films, just off the top of my head: Martha’s kitchen, Chocolat, and a big up to RATATOUILLE! The magnificent thing about Ratatouille is that it conveys the joy of cooking to children in a way that only a foodie can really connect to. It can get them curious when they see the rat twirling around the soup pot as he smells and adds different herbs and spices to the soup a dish-washing boy tried to "improve". Go watch it. It’s delightful.

  5. Hey you, I am completely indifferent to the word foodie too! Until someone gives me a better word for a "food enthusiast" why should I stumble around trying to call myself something else? And anyway, it all depends on how the word is used–if someone were trying to insult me it doesn’t matter what word they use, its how they deliver it that gets the message across. Only people give power to words–negative or positive, the word itself is pretty innocent. At least that’s what I think. ;)

  6. That clip is hilarious. I slightly object to the sushi part though… I make tons of sushi and it’s not that hard to photograph, I swear! I’m not a professional photographer either. :PAs for food movies, definitely Ratatouille! I loved that movie! :)I always considered food lovers foodies… I’m not anywhere close to gourmet and I think of myself as a foodie. As for your very last quote, my dad used to jokingly say that when we were little and he would come home late for dinner, and we would yell "Late for dinner" as he walked in the door. Brings back memories. :)

  7. I loooove mostly martha – its such a touching film, and german is a fun language to listen to. Has anyone seen the remake with Catherine Zeta Jones? Is it any good?Bhttp://handtomouthkitchen.wordpress.com

  8. I know in French there is the term "un gourmand" which means a person who enjoys and appreciates all good food, but I suppose it is quite close to gourmet and may carry the same connotations :) Which is odd, because in French I don’t believe it has negative associations.Not sure if it counts as a food movie, but I do love ‘Chocolat’!

  9. I, too, saw "Waitress" on a recent plane ride. I initially tuned in because I had read about the director’s death prior to the film’s release – one of the stranger reasons for wanting to see a film…Only a few minutes into it and I was hooked! I felt exactly as you did: that I could watch it again! (I was actually on the return portion of my flight, so, I’ll check it out on DVD next time).

  10. I love Mostly Martha too, although I worry about how much I identify with neurotic Martha who manages her sorrow by making lots of food. I had no idea there’s an American remake. Another favorite is the classic Babette’s Feast, a tale about food as gift.I recently saw Ratatouille, which is a delightful film. Who knew that Disney could have a hand in anything so good.My sister and I use the term "food person." It’s so clunky that it doesn’t risk getting appropriated by the culinary elite.

  11. Did you ever tell us that being called a ‘gourmet cook’ makes you cringe? How would we know if you didn’t tell us? In fact, we just want to tell people how well we eat when you’re around, so it’s your cooking ability that has the biggest impact on us, which is why we focus on that term. :-) But now that we know, we won’t call you that anymore.As for food movies, we love "Big Night" starring Tony Shalhoub. Marc Anthony has a small part too. You really should rent it.Love, Mom

  12. No question: Mondovino.And long live the ‘foodie’. I don’t like the term either, but gourmet/gourmand suggests drinking sauternes and eating foie gras and truffles all week. Not that that would be a bad thing…

  13. I found this funny because that’s exactly what my parents tell people when describing my interest in food, "he’s a gourmet cook/chef". Just because I manage to make homemade meals in the tiniest of kitchens using ingredients I spent more than three minutes on picking out, but hardly do I spend extravagant amounts of money on foie gras or caviar. I don’t mind it though as I know it’s endearing nonetheless. I must admit, that I do not buy everything organic/pesticide free. I usually weigh the price of an item with the quality and decide on what will work best in a meal for the least amount of money(on occasion I splurge). I think foodie has this connotation of ///only/// shopping at a certain supermarket with the initials WF and that those of us who just enjoy gourmet cooking(ethnic and conventional) and those that in fact do eat caviar and foie gras on a regular basis are the real "gourmands", because we’re not wannabes.

  14. Food lover? Food enthusiast? Epicurean? Does it really matter? I find the whole discussion rather silly, but I realize most of us feel better when we can define ourselves and others with a title. I’m just a girl who likes to shop for food, talk about food, eat, taste and smell food, and on a good day, I like to prepare it myself. It’s the most important part of my day and it defines how I choose to live my life. That’s strong stuff, and infinitely more important then what I choose to call this love, this lifestyle.On the film tip…Bella Martha is also one of my favorites, and I recently saw another German film Eden, also a beautiful film about food and the love of cooking and eating, albeit a bit darker then its predecessor. Let’s not forget Like Water for Chocolate, nor Big Night, which never fails to make my mouth water and wish that I could transport myself to dine in the film’s restaurant.I can’t wait to see Waitress and have been excited about it since I saw the trailer online. I did not know however that the director had met with a tragic end, and am greatly saddened to discover that. I was a great fan of Hal Hartley’s work as a teenager and it goes without saying that I thought Adrienne Shelly was the coolest.

  15. Eat Drink Man Woman and Babette’s Feast. I never liked the term foodie bc it seemed laden with connotations of foie gras and truffles. There’s an implied fussiness about all of these terms (foodie, gourmet, epicure) that I dislike.

  16. I love the clip, too funny! My favorite food movie is probably, Like Water for Chocolate. I loved Mostly Martha and Ratatouille as well. As for the "foodie" debate, whatever… It’s a bit silly! Eat, cook, be happy. That’s my motto!

  17. food movies? the cook, the thief, his wife, her lover OR Delicatessanfoodie? what about ‘hungry’? that about sums it up for me. it’s not the term foodie that i find obnoxious, it’s the crowd who cling to the term (or at least part of that crowd. :) )

  18. Chocolat! Has anyone mentioned this one yet? I know the movie is *very* different from the novel, but I enjoyed it all the same: chocolate, food and Johnny Depp, what more could a gal ask for? As for books though, Jim Crace’s "Devil’s Larder" is brilliant.

  19. Have you seen Ratatouille? It will make you run to the garden for zucchini and eggplant. For an animation film it is incredibly authentic. Not to mention adorable.

  20. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman and Big Night come to mind. Ratatouille was lovely, too. I thought Waitress was charming, and I’d see anything with Nathan Fillion ( very tasty) in it- but those pies! Terrible travesties…they should have had a real, uh, foodie (or "foodster"?, whatever) do the pies, cause those day-glo prop pies are not remotely appetizing.Interesting that a new soon-to-debut tv series here- getting a lot of press, called "Pushing Daisies" has a hero who also a pie shop. (Also, he can raise the dead, but anyway…) Suddenly, making pies is a cool pursuit. Who knew?

  21. I’ve seen this movie by pure chance on a recent plane trip. Didn’t expect much, thought it’ll be some superficial chick flick and then was hooked completely. I got somewhat interrupted by the landing but was luckily able to finish it on the connecting flight…Regarding the foodie fight – I haven’t found any term for myself that would fit the bill. I’d say I’m just someone who likes to eat…

  22. Seconding Eliane’s recommendation of Crace’s "The Devil’s Larder." (His publishers want to retitle it "The Devil’s Pantry" for the U.S. but he was able to talk them out of it. Whew!)

  23. I agree that "Foodie" sounds trendy. Sometimes I use the term about myself and then feel a bit embarrassed–probably because in the Bay Area, where I live, the term is so overused. I’ve been stumped. I love the quote you put at the end of the posting…I’ve always liked the film "Big Night" with Stanley Tucci.Many I know love "Like Water for Chocolate".

  24. Thanks for all your great suggestions on movies! Like Water for Chocolate, Mostly Martha (haven’t seen the remake), Eat Drink Man Woman (its American remake Tortilla Soup is not so good) and Chocolat are all among my favorites too. I’ve been waiting for Big Night to be released on DVD in the UK, but so far it hasn’t; Ratatouille, likewise, hasn’t been released here in the cinemas yet! As soon as it is, though, that’s where you’ll find me. One we just saw recently is a Greek movie called "A Touch of Spice". It was a bit melancholy, but beautifully shot and acted; if you liked Cinema Paradiso you’ll probably enjoy it very much.

  25. Seconding all the movies already mentioned, but Vatel with Gerard Depardieau and Uma Thurman is also fabulous.

  26. Favorite food movie? Mostly Martha, hands down. A beautifully done movie. One of the most sensual scenes I’ve ever watched was Martha being fed blindfolded, as she tried to figure out what was in the sauce. Brilliant! Hilarious at times, achingly poignant at others. I too, think the term Foodie has a negative connotation. It implies an obsession with all things food, to the exclusion of everything else.

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