Introducing Food and Food Movie Month on Dustedoff

To commemorate the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945, World Food Day is celebrated on October 16. No, not a wasteful celebration of a food ingredient like Spain’s famous La Tomatina festival, and not an attempt to make people consume vast quantities of food, but an attempt to emphasize the importance of food, its growth, its correct consumption, and other aspects of food. Since 1981, World Food Day has adopted different themes—food security, fishermen and fishing communities, rural youth, food and the environment, fighting hunger and malnutrition, and so on—to build awareness  about food and how it impacts the lives of us all.

What, pray, does that have to do with a blog that focusses primarily on old cinema? (Well, I also occasionally review restaurants, so maybe there’s not a complete disconnect…)

In May this year, at the behest of a culinary magazine which requested an article from me, I began a project of watching as many food movies as I could lay my hands on. From May to September, I watched more than sixty food movies from around the world. And, because I like pushing myself, I also took up the task of cooking dishes that represented the movies I was watching. Simultaneously, I documented all that I was doing: mini reviews of the films I watched, notes on the food I cooked. By the end of it, I had enough material for four longish posts. And I had reviews of some rare old films (movies that focus on food don’t seem to be very common before the 70s—almost all the best food movies I watched are from the 1980s onwards).

So, all through this month, we’ll focus on food. You’ll get a rundown on lots of food movies (for once, very few of these are pre-70s). You’ll get to read reviews of a couple of food movies from the pre-70s period. You’ll get a song list. And, if in the course of all of that, you come across a mention of some dish that appeals to you, feel free to ask for recipes.

Bon appetit!



18 thoughts on “Introducing Food and Food Movie Month on Dustedoff

  1. Hello,
    I’m not sure that I understood the posts in this month.
    I couldn’t exactly get what posts those would be! But one things sure, those would be interesting ones!
    In fact I’m not getting what exactly means by a food movie. Off hand I don’t remember any Hindi movie that focuses on food. Actually I think, this time there would be more movies from foreign languages.
    I’m a foodie person, I love to eat delicious dishes. I keep on asking at home to have different kind of dishes. But I don’t cook much myself, I can cook only very preliminary maharashtrian food items.
    Looking forward to the interesting posts and recipes.
    It’s so interesting coincidence that both the blogs (yours and mine) would celebrate a specific month. A musical treat (most hopeful I’m about it) on mine and a food treat on yours.


    • As the month proceeds, you’ll see what it’s about! :-) A ‘food movie’, by the way, is one where food is a very important element of the movie. While most of the best-known food movies are foreign, not Indian, there are several Indian ones too (all of them recent movies, and some really great ones too – The Lunchbox and Stanley ka Dabba among them).

      I hope you enjoy this month on my blog, Anupji. I’m certain I’m going to have a good time with SDB on your blog!


  2. That sounds delicious! Being a foodie myself I think this would be a very interesting new avenue for you..

    I think my last food movie was 2007 Ratatouille, an animation movie though I thought was very well done. I don’t think animation would be on your list even if you lax the self imposed rule of pre-1970.

    Waiting for food movie reviews. Let the games begin!


    • Ratatouille, as it happens, was one of the movies I rewatched while I was working on this project. :-) It’s a delightful movie (and, surprisingly, probably one of those rare animation movies that actually had a lot of ‘authenticity’ to it when it came to the depiction of the food – every single one of the 270 dishes that are shown in it was actually cooked and consumed! I won’t be reviewing any new food movies – at least not a full-scale review, though there will be (hopefully) lots of insights into new food movies.

      I’m hoping the foodies who frequent this blog will like what’s coming!


      • I felt the same way about Ratataouille! Very realistic. Didn’t know about the 270 dishes.

        I just remembered that there was a show on TBS called “Dinner and a Movie” on Friday nights (I think) and I used to watch this show regularly, sometimes trying the dishes prepared during the show. This show typically picked a movie and a food/drink to go with it (some times with pun) and during the breaks they showed the recipe and cooking. I particularly enjoyed the shows hosted by Annabelle Gurwitch, who used to bring unknown aspects of the movie and several interesting anecdotes about the movie. It was always fun and this typically kicked off the weekend for me on a happy note.. I think happiness can be easily found at the intersection of movies and food.. :)


        • Dinner and a Movie sounds right up my street! Thank you for telling me about this. I must go and see if there are any episodes available on Youtube or something. Would love to see at least one. :-)


  3. I too, am intrigued by this theme. Can’t wait!

    (P.S Long time reader and lover of this blog, I check this and ‘Conversations..’ every morning in the hope of a new post, upon the reading of which my day feels infinitely better.)


  4. Sounds very interesting, you must have been very busy. I’m drawing a blank…the only movie I can think of food related (and not in a major way) was the original Imitation of Life where Claudette Colbert makes a fortune from Louise Beavers’ ability to make fantastic pancakes!


    • I’ve just published the first of the posts. :-) There are really, it seems, very few old movies that have any sort of focus on food (A Christmas Caroldoes have some amount of emphasis on the Christmas dinner, but that’s not the primary focus of the film) – so I’m even more grateful for the mention of Imitation of Life, because I didn’t know about it. Thank you for that – am off to search for it now!


  5. An interesting topic. The emotional appeal of food is something that is tricky to convey effectively in cinema, as cinema is limited to audio and visual while food is most effective on the senses of smell and taste which are impossible to replicate in cinema directly. Past experiments like Smell-O-Vision that tried to employ odours released in cinema to accompany scenes on screen have failed miserably for number of reasons, ranging from ineffective technology (the scents reaching viewers long after the corresponding scene was over) to high expenses involved not being suitable for most theatre owners, as the technique is not suited for ordinary dramas or comedies and investing in costly technology for the sake of a few odd films not being feasible.

    So it is left to the actors to convey their enjoyment or displeasure with food by employing appropriate acting techniques. This works as far as the actors’ skill set goes and also viewer’s ability to judge it.

    Makes me think about how a pure vegetarian or vegan will react to meat shown in films where the viewer is expected to find it enjoyable.


    • I’d only heard about Smell-O-Vision and not about how it panned out. Yes, I can imagine that it would’ve been difficult to execute – a fragrance emanating after the moment doesn’t work the magic it should, and frankly, somehow few synthetic aromas manage to capture the essence of the real deal.

      Personally speaking (and this may be because I’m an unashamed devotee of food), for me, watching beautiful shots of food being prepared (not necessarily eaten) – as in Burnt, Julie & Julia, No Reservations, This is Not What I Expected, Little Forest and Maachher Jhol is enough to satisfy my ‘hunger’, so to say – and it inspires me to cook. After all, that’s how this project (see part 1 and 2 of my ‘Food and Food Movie Project blog posts) came about. But different people would react differently…

      … talking of which, i like your remark about how meat-heavy depictions of food in movies would affect vegans or vegetarians. I do know vegetarian friends who’ve said they found the food in some movies – like Julie & Julia or Babette’s Feast – look delicious, even if they wouldn’t eat it. On the other hand, though I’m a hard-core non-vegetarian, some of the dishes in the French movie La Grand Bouffe left me feeling sick. I suppose it all boils down to the specific dish in a movie, and to the individual watching it.


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