This month, I stumbled across a movie in our collection that, upon reading the title, I had no choice but to immediately watch it. Who’s Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? One part murder mystery, one part romantic comedy, one part preparation of the most absurd foods that you can imagine and all parts soft focus. I like to think that in 1978, everything was surrounded by a fine mist of dispersed color, that edges bled everywhere you looked and that cars only came in the colors yellow and orange.
In this movie, you will see cakes that are set on fire, duck corpses pressed for blood, delicate pigeon pastries baked for the Queen of England and some kind of insane lobster dish prepared by a stereotypical Italian man. This isn’t a great movie, but it’s definitely fun. Even though you’ll think that you have the answer to the mystery, a good twist at the end will leave you satisfied that you didn’t. The most interesting part by far is its discussion of fine dining vs. fast food and the latter’s spread into Europe by using the deadbeat dad from “Look Who’s Talking” as their example. If they thought it was bad 33 years ago, I wonder how they would feel about getting a Subway sandwich in Madrid (I’ve made this mistake and don’t suggest anyone else repeating it)?
The second movie is one that I watched a while back. I had to read the wiki to get myself reacquainted and up to speed. Tampopo, billed as the world’s first ramen western. The movie is truly obsessed with food on every level, from preparation to consumption. Multiple stories are woven together to create a movie that really isn’t even about anything other than people who love food. Although it is hard to pick one, I think my favorite scene portrays an old man discussing how to properly enjoy a bowl of ramen with a young Ken Watanabe with the most minute of details. “First caress the surface with the chopstick tips to express affection.” This man could really teach everyone something about how the little things in life are what make it worth living. I’m also pretty fond of the scene involving a group of young Japanese girls being taught how to eat spaghetti like they do in the West, a.k.a. not slurping their noodles. This movie is legitimately funny, surreal and will give the viewer a bit of understanding of how the Japanese view ramen and food in general.