The Celluloid Pantry: Melted Mozzarella and The Bicycle Thief (Italy, 1948)
Sometimes the next best thing for lunch turns out to be the very best thing.
Winner of a special Academy Award before Best Foreign Language Film was established as a regular category, The Bicycle Thief (Italy, 1948), features melted mozzarella in a deliciously memorable supporting role.
Faced with the poverty of post-war Rome, Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani) keeps coming up short. After spending the day searching for the stolen bicycle on which his livelihood depends, he asks his young son, Bruno (Enzo Staiola), if he’d like some pizza. “Why should I kill myself worrying?” Antonio says. “Come on. Let’s get something to eat.”
The waiter’s disdain is apparent: “No pizzas in this restaurant. This is not a pizzeria.” And so they order mozzarella bread instead. The well-heeled boy at the next table is eating his fussily with a knife and fork, but after a few clumsy attempts of his own, Bruno takes the whole thing in his hands, and, with a big bite, stretches the cheese into long, looping strands. Melted mozzarella never looked so good. The band plays, Antonio drinks his wine, and for a moment, everything is right in the world.