Chocolat ( 2000)
Chocolat is the pretty girl in school that girls like me used to hate. She’s simple, easy to understand, and so full of niceness it scares you sometimes. Where is the grit, the craziness? Why is she happy all the time? And then you realize that maybe you’re just a weirdo and that you don’t always have to be so complicated. It’s light and effortless, and a delightful break from the heavy-plotted, depressing movies in my hard drive.
Post-screening craving: Spicy chocolate-cayenne truffle brownies. You make them by sifting cayenne powder with the flour. (Ratio: One teaspoon cayenne per 1.25 cups of flour)
Delicatessen ( 1991)
This movie reminded me of that time when I was utterly clueless on picking the right steak cut to cook and I was as dead as the meat I stared at. Fast forward to postdinner conversations, my mother said she liked the herbed burger steak I served her. (Obviously, I didn’t go with the steak.) Then again she also said she liked my drawings back when they looked like a chicken took the pencil from me. Nevertheless, I learned that a good meal can only come from good meat. Hopefully though, your local butcher doesn’t have ominous quotation marks on his menu, like “Baby back ribs.” Post-screening craving: Black angus burger from Charlie’s Grind & Grill at Ronac Art Center in Greenhills
Jiro Dreams of Sushi ( 2011)
A documentary lm about an octogenarian sushi master, recommended to me by consummate Japanophile Tricia Gosingtian. Watch this and you’ll vow never to succumb to inferior sushi ever again. Jiro’s sushi joint can sit only ten people, and you have to make a reservation months in advance. The sushi course at Jiro’s is also staggeringly expensive, we are told. Apart from the food, Jiro Ono the man is the star. You’ll marvel at his work ethic and skill. Post-screening craving: Chirashi at Yumi in Century City Mall. To me it’s like sushi meets the bento. Or sushi for hungry folk.
Tampopo ( 1985)
Confession: I’ve only eaten ramen once so far. (Not by choice, however. I just prefer to eat at katsu places more than ramen places.) It was raining, I was sick, and my girlfriend decided it would be a good idea to convalesce through the power of warm, warm ramen. It was our way of getting some chicken noodle soup treatment without having to bust open cheap packs of Lucky Me!, and, well, it worked. The only ramen I want to eat now (if I want to eat it) is beef ramen, and all this ramen talk in this movie kinda gets me going.
Post-screening craving: Beef ramen at Shinjuku in Makati’s Little Tokyo
Babette’s Feast ( 1987)
This lm makes you think about the way you consume two things: food and religion. Its story—positive at the core, though a bit melancholic— portrays that love, like food, should be regarded not just as fleshful and sensual, but also spiritual and divine. I highly recommend it, especially to those who disagree with parents or relatives about Christian frugality. Fun fact: It’s the Pope’s favorite movie.
Post-screening craving: Champagne! Veuve Clicquot, I wish.
Eat Drink Man Woman ( 1994)
From the director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain, though it’s nothing like those. The lm is ridden with quiet humor, awkward tension, and so much food. A master chef dad cooks a weekly feast for his three daughters, all of whom have a fair share of issues. It’s like a voyeuristic view into a closed-door conference room, an uncomfortable stage on which to judge this dysfunctional family. You won’t feel too bad for them, though, because they’re always eating great food. Post-screening craving: The dumplings at King Chef in Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo. They’re sold at half the price from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m daily.
I am Love ( 2009)
I’ve never seen anyone react so passionately to food as Tildaa Swinton, after being served thatat shrimp dish in this movie. She literally had a foodgasm even before it was a hashtag. Two hours laterer and dozens of dishes with namesmes I’ll never be able to pronounce, Italy still reminds me of pasta. The rst pesto I had was at a family friend’s home. I was curious about the green stuff in the middle of the table. I broke every rule in the Filipino Guest Handbook by asking for more helpings. Post-screening craving: Spaghetti from Pancake House. Ordered with extra bacon strips on the side.
The Hundred-foot Journey ( 2014)
The one thing I’ve learned about food in the past year is that I actually really love the cuisine from the general area of India, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. One of those things isn’t quite like the others, but I love them all the same—and to my palate, they come from some vague, unseen family tree of cuisine. (Perhaps a food historian could help me on this.) All the indian food in this movie made me crave for some chicken tikka masala, because on the real, I haven’t consumed any turmeric lately. That needs to change soon.
Post-screening craving: The chicken tikka masala over at New Bombay is pretty great.