Binge drinking and eating are frowned upon, yet binge watching is all the rage. Doesn’t seem fair. Why not combine them all?
Whether it’s sipping steamy espressos, gorging on spaghetti or downing frothy pints, some movies just make you want to indulge.
Here are some appetizers.
Sideways – wine, especially the red variety
If you don’t have a glass of cabernet sauvignon by your side at the start of this razor-sharp comedy, you’ll soon be itching for one.
Sideways gives us two guys with polar opposite personalities on an eventful weekend retreat in Californian vineyards. They laugh, cry, fight, meet women and lose women, all the while savoring some delicious looking reds and whites.
While the boozing occasionally gets out of hand, most of the time the cast enjoy their wine. They love the smell, the first few sips and the blissful feeling that relaxes everybody and enriches conversation.
The protagonist Miles tends to waffle on at times but his heart’s in the right place. When he describes why he loves Pinot Noir so much – “it’s thin-skinned, temperamental and needs constant care”, we realize he’s actually describing himself.
Chef – food from everywhere
Jon Favreau plays Carl Casper, a revered chef who is fed up with working for someone else. Well so do we all Carl, but we can’t just up and leave. He can though and does. Carl treks across the southern United States with son Percy and longtime kitchen cohort Martin.
The viewer is taken along for the ride and a whole range of stomach fillers from Cuba, Louisiana and Texas.
The food truck’s menu isn’t what you’d call vegan-friendly, but even meat dodgers would appreciate how much fun it seems to be cooking up quick treats for the masses.
We’re treated to the Cuban sandwich – a toasted delight with pork, cheese, pickles and mustard. Casper shows Percy how to butter up bread and quickly fry the slabs of pork. By the time he’s slapping on the cheese, many of us are doing a mental inventory of our fridge…can I make one now?
They stop off in Texas to buy a huge chunk of beef breast to be barbecued as brisket. It’s cooked up in garlic, salt and brown sugar. Carl cuts off a chunk and hands it to his son who devours it like a starved wolf.
Hardly vegan-friendly, but that’s how it goes. What Chef gets right is showing the fun of cooking, from selecting food at the markets to cooking it up in front of starving customers.
Don’t be too finicky, use plenty of butter and just eat.
The Godfather – tomato pasta
When members of the Corleone family weren’t assassinating police or butchering horses, they were happily cooking away in their crowded kitchens. Pasta, naturally.
No self-respecting movie or TV show about the mafia is complete without a family dinner scene. Glasses of wine, a pile of bread, lots of pasta and animated talking. Saturday Night Fever, The Sopranos, everyone was doing it.
In The Godfather, beefy hitman Clemenza’s recipe is one for the ages – simple and timeless.
“You start out widda little bit of oil, then you fry some garlic. You throw in tomatoes, tomato paste – make sure it doesn’t stick.”
The lovable assassin then empties a huge plate of juicy meatballs into the steaming pot as Al Pacino looks on earnestly.
We realize that even though the Don has been shot, life goes on – which means eating goes on.
Hot Fuzz – beer, and lots of it
Chocolate bars, toothbrushes and the telephone were all invented in Britain, but the UK’s greatest contribution is surely the pub. Specifically, the pint of beer at the pub.
Plenty of movies show people drinking beer, but it’s usually for a purpose. To show that the person is a wild party animal, maybe an immoral degenerate or to show they’re under massive stress.
If a Brit sips on a pint though, it’s just because that’s what they do. Like someone drinking water or eating an apple.
We’ll go with Hot Fuzz because the pub scenes are how it is in real pubs. We see the simple delights of glugging down a freshly poured lager or bitter. The townsfolk regularly meet in the pub and drink beer.
They order their beer, get their beer and drink it appreciatively. Their spirits immediately lift, and they drink more. Sometimes much more. The tenth beer tastes as delicious as the first. The beer looks as it should – sparkling and golden with a frothy head.
Drinking beer for the sake of it. Ahh, that’s better.
Pulp Fiction – coffee (yes, really)
Some films have famous café scenes where characters drink coffee. De Niro and Pacino in Heat, Hanks and Ryan in You Got Mail and everybody in Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes. The only problem with these scenes though was that nobody actually seemed to care about the coffee they were drinking.
The café was simply an excuse for them to get all nice and intimate or to advance the plot. Nobody stopped to praise the coffee’s taste or wonder where the beans came from.
Not the case in Pulp Fiction. A movie as renowned for its fascination with the smaller details in daily life as it is for its sudden outbreaks of extreme violence. And gourmet coffee.
After a sudden violent outbreak, we find Jules and Vince desperate to dispose of a body. They land at pal Jimmy’s house early in the morning, drenched in some poor sap’s blood.
Jimmy goes to work and brews up a few cups of gourmet coffee. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Sam Jackson’s Jules, who praises Jimmy for the delicious roast. Jimmy explains it’s because he buys the coffee in the house and won’t tolerate that instant sh*t.
The morning sunlight breaks over the gangsters who appreciatively sip from their steaming cups. We know the self-assuring joys of the first sips of the morning coffee. We can do anything and the day will be alright.
As Travolta and Jackson stand in their blood-splattered suits, they calm down and realize their day just might be alright.
And it is, for a while anyway.
A Simple Favor – martinis
Martinis in a movie means any Bond film, right? Er, no. Way too predictable and to be brutally honest, no fun. The recent deadly serious Daniel Craig offerings see Bond take his martinis for granted. He drinks them because he thinks he should. Yawn.
No, to get you in the mood for a martini there’s nothing better than two very dissatisfied married women getting pissed in the afternoon.
Introducing A Simple Favor. Single mum Stephanie meets brash PR whiz Emily at their kids’ school. The gals end up bonding over a few one afternoon, when Emily decides to make “a proper” martini.
It’s a great scene that the audience can immediately imagine themselves re-creating, if so disposed. Emily takes a chilled glass from the fridge, and an ice-cold bottle of gin. She explains the simple yet highly effective process to her protégé.
Sprinkle some vermouth into the glass, rub some lemon around the rim then pour in a generous serve of gin. Keep pouring.
It looks crisp, cool and potent. The topper is Emily doesn’t sip it delicately, she downs the lot in one gulp. The ladies are in for a big afternoon.
Pompous British spies could take note that martinis are supposed to be fun.
You might be able to get through these indulgent views without needing to open bottles or grease pans, which shows great restraint.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, restraint is massively overrated.
A really entertaining take on food & drink in movies. The same attention to food & drink seems to be an unintentional focus in many streaming series.
Maybe now I should watch “Chef” & “A Simple Favour”.
My favourite Gustoker words in this are:
“The morning sunlight breaks over the gangsters who appreciatively sip from their steaming cups. We know the self-assuring joys of the first sips of the morning coffee. We can do anything and the day will be alright.”
Thanks, love me a morning coffee. I go to bed earlier because it brings me closer to the morning coffee…