7 International Food Movies to Satisfy Your Wanderlust

published Feb 20, 2017
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There are plenty of reasons you might want to hole up inside and slip away to the pleasures of a really good movie. Maybe you’re tired of the news. Maybe you’re sick of the cold weather. Maybe you’re actually physically sick with a cold. We feel you — February can be brutal.

If escapism is your aim, we’ve got you covered. Here are seven delectable food-focused movies to get you through the dog days of winter, each from a different country around the world. Curl up with a mug of something hot and let yourself be taken far away from it all, to the mean streets of Mumbai, the tranquil Danish countryside, or the banks of the Dordogne River in southern France.

Mind you, there are no documentaries on this list — our goal is escapism, not reality. What are you waiting for? The time is right to hunker down and work your way through this food-movie queue.

1. Eat Drink Man Woman

You know Ang Lee for his hits — Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Brokeback Mountain; Life of Pi — but you’re likely to have overlooked Eat Drink Man Woman. This warm family drama from Taiwan centers around a widower and his three grown daughters and their relationships with the most basic of human desires: food and sex. If you’re in search of a food movie with real respect for cooking, start here.

2. Chocolat

Chocolat was formulated to be irresistible, from its cast (Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina) to its subject matter (France, romance, chocolate). It’s a little indulgent, sure, but as escapist fantasies go, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more winning formula.

3. Tampopo

Thirty years after Tampopo‘s initial release, the buzz about ramen has reached a fever pitch, and there’s no better time to add this one to your watch list. Serious ramenheads already know this kooky Japanese cult classic, which was restored and re-released last year. The plot of this “ramen western” is interrupted by a series of unrelated sketches, including one of the most bizarre love scenes you’ll ever see onscreen.

4. Like Water for Chocolate

Love and food go hand-in-hand, and nowhere on this list is their grip tighter than in Like Water for Chocolate. Based on the Spanish-language novel Coma Agua Para Chocolate by Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate is a fantastical tale about the sensual magic of cooking. This 1992 movie veers into magical realism and, like Chocolat, satisfies a craving for romance and melodrama.

5. Babette’s Feast

Food — or at least food worth eating — doesn’t make an appearance in Babette’s Feast until the final third of the movie. But when it does, it’s delectable. This quiet Danish film, a tribute to the transformative power of a good meal, won the 1987 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It’s also Pope Francis’s favorite.

6. Mostly Martha

ou may already know Mostly Martha‘s American remake, No Reservations, the romantic comedy featuring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart (not the Anthony Bourdain show). In its original German version, our workaholic protagonist gets a lesson in love, not from a sandy-haired Californian but an Italian sous chef (named Mario, naturally). The outcome is equally predictable, but Mostly Martha gets there without the high-Hollywood gloss.

7. The Lunchbox

In India, where many office workers opt to eat home-cooked meals at lunchtime, a network of dabbawalas (literally “one who carries a box”) move hot food through cities like Mumbai and into the hands of hungry employees. The Lunchbox, the story of an epistolary friendship between a man and a woman on opposite ends of the dabbawala exchange, enjoyed international success when it premiered in 2013.

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