Food Movies And Books

These are synopses of my past postings on food movies and books about food. Click on the links for the posts.

November 09, 2009Replacing Recipes With RatiosThis summer hasn't been a great time for reading. Although I'm now in possession of some of the best books I've ever read on cooking and restaurateuring, finding time to settle down with them has been difficult. But I'm so glad I read Michael Ruhlman's 'Ratio'. It's one of those rare publications that has genuinely changed my life. I've had more inspiration as a result of reading this than from any other source since I first began to cook.
June 22, 2009Feasting On The Silk RoadI've been reading Laura Kelley's excellent blog The Silk Road Gourmet for some time now. It's written with sensitivity, intelligence and passion and is unique amongst food blogs for its topic - the cultural and gastronomic anthropology of the trading nations along The Silk Road. I was really pleased to see that Laura has found a publisher for her trilogy and to be invited to look over the first volume. These are books that I thoroughly recommend to anyone with a thirst for knowledge and a hunger for the unusual.
June 15, 2009The End Of The LineIts release in cinemas timed to coincide with World Ocean Day (8th June), The End Of The Line should do for our oceans what Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth did for climate change - bring the issue of unsustainable fishing into the public consciousness and shame governments around the world into action. Celebrity chefs and restaurateurs have a vital role to play in preventing the extinction of endangered species by removing them from menus. Some are doing this, but others are still lagging behind.
April 06, 2009Classical British Shepherd's Pie (With Some Minor Modifications)The other day I was sent a clip from BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week - and I've been smiling every time I've thought about it since. Many cooks, both professional and domestic, are obsessive about the correctness of recipes. It's hard for me to understand that, as someone who tends to cook from mood and taste, rather than from recipes. And isn't great cooking all about improving on what has gone before? Yasmin's mother certainly thought so, and British shepherd's pie was definitely open to improvement. Nothing a pinch of garam masala and a few other ingredients couldn't solve. "Nicely brown on top". Lol!
February 22, 2009Tampopo Wins Award For Best PictureIt's Oscars Day in Hollywood, but a much more important movie celebration took place a week ago with the annoucement of the CooksDen All-Time Culinary Cinema Awards. Favourite food films of mine won in several categories and, just to show that people have got really good taste out there, my all-time favourite Tampopo won the all-time Best Food Movie award.
September 08, 2008The Novice, The Master And A 1981 Corton-CharlemagneIt's been a long time since I posted a clip from my all-time favourite food film, "Tampopo" (Dandelion). The movie is an allegory that weaves together tales of the global threat to traditional Japanese culture, set against the theme of the powerful relationship between food and sex. The two clips I've chosen both address the novice/master relationship... but in very different ways. Enjoy!
July 06, 2008Grocery Store Wars - May The Farm Be With YouI'm still working on my reviews of Mugaritz and the Guggenheim, so in the meantime I thought I'd republish this video. It's only a six-minute short, but a totally brilliant one. Produced for The Organic Trade Association by Free Range Studios, this video reveals how the food market has been taken over by the forces of the Dark Side. With advice from Obi Wan Cannoli and help from Ham Solo and ChewBroccoli, Cuke Skywalker learns the ways of The Farm and defeats Lord Tader and the Egg Troopers and returns the Empire to a happy, pesticide-free Princess Lettuce.
January 11, 2008A Nasty Taste In The MouthThis book by the brilliantly talented Bee Wilson couldn't be better timed. Due for publication in a few days, Bee's story of the history of food adulteration hits the shelves just as British TV is packed with programmes about food content, poultry rearing methods and supermarket methods. Mum's been listening to this on BBC Radio 4's Book Of The Week and dad has ordered me a copy via Amazon.
December 13, 2007Birthday PressiesTwo of the birthday presents I received this year were a food parcel from my dad (who seems to think there are no shops in Barcelona) and a book from my mum. Actually, the food parcel contained all the ingredients needed for a good spicy soup. And the book wasn't just any book - it was the amazing Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain. This rings so many bells for me as a trainee chef. I simply can't put it down.

October 29, 2007The Future Of Food Is Here TodayNot exactly food movies in the conventional sense, but a series of brilliant video shorts produced for the Observer Food Magazine special feature: The Future Of Food. These fascinating and informative videos feature two chefs I've met - Nuno Mendes of Bacchus in Hoxton and Daniel Clifford of Midsummer House in Cambridge, plus Simon Rogan of L'Enclume in Cartmel and Anthony Flinn of Anthony's in Leeds. The common theme is "the food of the 21st century".
July 29, 2007Ratatouille À La PopcornThere's something about Rémy, star of the film "Ratatouille", that reminds me of myself. I have exactly the same passion for innovation and experimentation in food and I have on more than one occasion evoked exactly the same reaction from French chefs when discovered in their kitchens. In this post I show a clip from Pixar revealing the secrets of computer-generated food. For non-Americans, there's a shock at the end of the video.
June 11, 2007Going For An EnglishOK - so it's not a feature film, just a 4 minute clip from a TV comedy made a decade ago. But when I saw it again the other day I just had to post this. From the pioneering BBC series "Goodness Gracious Me", this sketch brilliantly satirises the classic Friday night night out at the local Indian restaurant by turning the tables. Read my post to view this hysterically funny clip and to discover how real life has imitated this piece of art.
April 11, 2007This Is Sheer GeniusWhen I say "This", I'm referring to the amazing Hervé This, Physical Chemist at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique and author of "Molecular Gastronomy; Exploring the Science of Flavor". The book is destined to change my whole approach to cooking.
March 08, 2007Two Books At BedtimeTwo great books have just arrived at my house. The first, a late Xmas present from my dad is "McGee On Food And Cooking", the modern bible of food science. The second is "The Multi-Cultural Cuisine of Trinidad & Tobago & the Caribbean", the seminal work on Caribbean cookery by Trinidadan schoolgirls at Naparima Girls' High School, courtesy of Joel's girlfriend's mum Jacqui.
January 19, 2007Sex, Food And Gustav MahlerIn October I posted an article on my all-time favourite food film, "Tampopo" (Dandelion). Here is another video clip. If food, love and Mahler turn you on then just sit back, listen to the background track to this video extract and dream of eating oysters in Venice with someone very special.
November 23, 2006Fast Food Nation Arrives"Fast Food Nation" has arrived in Britain. Despite highly critical reviews, there are signs of movement from the fast food industry on the obesity issue. The UK TV regulator Ofcom has annouced a total ban on burger adverts in all programmes with substantial numbers of young viewers. Here are two extracts.
November 04, 2006Eat Drink Man WomanAnother wonderful piece of cooking on camera. A clip from Ang Lee's erotic foodie film "Eat Drink Man Woman" - a great family story set against a backdrop of 100% genuine traditional Taiwanese cooking at its best. If anything is going to make you fall in love with food, this is surely it.
October 07, 2006Dandelion And NoodlesJuzo Itami's Japanese spaghetti western "Tampopo" (dandelion) is a film that has long been a favourite in my family. It weaves together tales of Japanese culture, with food and sex as the common link. In this clip, gourmet vagrants break into a hotel kitchen to cook a rice omelette for Tampopo's hungry son.