1. GOODFELLAS, 1990
I love mob movies, and they never disappoint when it comes to food scenes. Like all good mafia flicks (The Godfather, with Clemenza teaching Michael how to make sauce right after killing Paulie – “You see, you start out with a little bit of oil…;” The Pope of Greenwich Village, Paulie tells Jimmy, “your ‘moo-zerrella’s’ tough sometimes”), Goodfellas also has an unforgettable food scene involving a guy named Paulie. In this case, Paulie’s using a razor to slice garlic “so thin that it used to liquefy in the pan with just a little oil.” We also get a good recipe for meatballs with veal, beef and pork and watch as the prisoners get lobster delivery and fry up steaks. And even as the feds are closing in, a strung-out Henry Hill barks “keep an eye on the sauce and watch the helicopters.” Priorities, I tell you.
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2. RATATOUILLE, 2007
Of course I love the omelet scene when Remy makes himself a small-scale version of the omelet he whips up for Linguine, but my very favorite scene is where Remy can’t resist fixing the soup instead of making his escape. I swear he grabs a little sprig of chervil—an herb often featured in Thomas Keller’s cooking—and crushes it to release its oils before tossing into the soup. Keller did consult on the movie, so I like to think it is indeed chervil.
3. TAMPOPO, 1985
This Japanese film is hilarious, and centers around a couple of truck drivers trying to keep a widow’s ramen joint afloat. Think of it as a “ramen western” complete with a sort of shootout scene with ramen chefs. Food and sex are the driving forces, and there are all manner of aphrodisiacs represented including raw eggs, oysters and whipped cream, but without a creepy Mickey Rourke lothario. (And does the idea of sticky honey on the kitchen floor in Nine ½ Weeks bug anyone else? How on earth do they clean it all up????)
4. BELLA MARTHA (Mostly Martha), 2001
We watched this again last night – LOVE it! It’s the original German film upon which the chemistry-free No Reservations was based, and it is worlds superior. It’s a poignant film, in which characters express their feelings through food. But it also has a sense of humor, particularly in scenes with Martha and her therapist, to whom she is giving cooking lessons. The post-credits scene involving sugar is priceless.
5. LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, 1992
During Christmas break one year in college, I remember a life-changing experience at a now-defunct restaurant called Showley’s in St. Helena. Chef Grant Showley featured chiles en nogada, just one of the heavenly dishes from Like Water for Chocolate, and to date it remains one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted. Chiles en nogada are like chiles rellenos that haven’t been battered or fried, and are stuffed with pork picadillo and smothered in walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds.
HONORABLE MENTIONS FOR FAVORITE SCENES INVOLVING EGGS: Cool Hand Luke – a gimme; Get Shorty in which Danny DeVito places a high-maintenance “off the menu” order for an egg-white omelet at the Ivy, and then leaves before eating it; the fried egg sandwich—another Thomas Keller creation—in Spanglish; Big Night and that heavenly timpano would be a shoe-in for my Top Five Fave Foodie Flicks if it weren’t for such a depressing omelet ending and Marc Anthony.
*For Top Five Fashion Flicks, click here.