Spaghetti westerns, Spanish surrealism and a slapstick comedy or two; we pair 12 of the best food flicks with encore-worthy eats, and learn about life from an eclectic bunch of cooks, waiters, housewives and poets.
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28 Sep 2014 - 4:31 PM  UPDATED 2 Sep 2016 - 12:07 PM

1. “The wrong train can take you to the right station.”

In recent Indian blockbuster The Lunchbox, a lonely Indian housewife finds friendship through tikka masala and panak paneer after realising the daily dabbawala (lunch) she packs for her husband is being delivered to the wrong man.

2. There’s an art to living, giving and eating ramen

A good-willed truck driver helps single mother, Tampopo, turn her penniless roadside diner into a popular noodle restaurant. Enjoy this spaghetti, nay ramen, Western with a bowl of sweet corn and leek noodle soup.

3. “Love what you do, never complain about your job.”

A Japanese documentary about the world’s oldest three Michelin-starred chef, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is best watched with a bucket of rice, sheets of nori and a plate of fresh ingredients. Check out Adam Liaw’s hand-rolled sushi recipe here.   

4. Great artists are never poor

In Babette’s Feast, an elegant Parisian curiously becomes a maid for two religiously-brainwashed sisters. After winning the lottery, she prepares a sumptuous dinner of foie gras, turtle soup and Champagne. For your own taste of luxury, try Gabriel Gaté’s quail with grapes and chestnuts.

5. Family, freedom and fresh eats come first

Food truck fable Chef tells the story of a disillusioned cook who breaks away from the restaurant business to follow his culinary dream. Savour this light-hearted flick one fried masa tartlet at a time.

6. “To eat good food is to be close to God.”

Two Italian brothers, now living in America, struggle to keep their restaurant afloat. For a Big Night, serve the slapstick comedy with ricotta and vegetable pasta from the main characters’ homeland, Abruzzo. Recipe and image from Silvia's Cucina.

7. Sometimes it’s best not to follow orders

Waiter (Ober) is a Dutch black comedy about a restaurant attendant whose luckless life is actually the creation of a slightly sadistic writer. Sweeten up the serious bits with a slice of Limburger cherry flan.

 

8. “With your cleavage and my mojitos, we'd make a fortune.”

A murdered body stored in a restaurant deep-freezer and a mother returning from the dead; the surrealist Spanish movie Volver features Oscar-nominated Penelope Cruz and a potato tortilla or two.

9. Man or mouse, everyone can cook

In the animated hit Ratatouille, Remy the rat teams up with a garbage boy to pursue his culinary dreams in a rodent-phobic industry. Tuck into this vegetarian namesake, from Taste le Tour served with lemon chantilly, for an extra dose of Frenchness.

10. "You know, the day you open a '61 Cheval Blanc… that's the special occasion."

A film about wine and love, Sideways follows writer Miles on his mid-life crisis road trip around California’s vineyards. Accompany the poetic, screwball comedy with an unruly glass of red and this roast duck with mulberry molasses and pinot noir from Destination Flavour

11. Every kitchen needs a little soul

A young, down-on-his-luck restauranteur teams up with his ex-con brother and an elitist chef to transform his grease joint into a bona fide Soul Kitchen. Adopt an a la carte approach to diner fare, with these fish fingers from Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz

12. Perfection takes passion

Turning gender stereotypes on their head, Mediterranean Food tells the story of Sofia, a world class chef with a passion for cooking, and the two men in her life – husband Toni and lover-slash-culinary-mentor Alfonso. For the supreme Spanish combo, pair this film with smoky chilli popcorn and chorizo chips.