Julia and Julia/ Cheeni Kum and the food!

When the Julie and Julia buzz began making the rounds sometime last month I knew I would watch it. However, my reasons to watch it were because it was a movie about cooking, not because of any familiarity with Julia Child. The only things I knew about her are that were that she is a culinary icon, her cookbook is seminal in publishing and I had watched an episode of hers with Emeril Lagasse way back when on Food Network.
Julie and Julia- the book- is a personal memoir of Julie Powell who decides to cook all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking over the course of a year and maintains a blog about it.

The movie splits Julie's experience with stories from Julia Child's memoir and so we get a charming story of two women separated by time and place who embark on a culinary voyage - Julia because she needs to find something to do after her husband Paul Child is transferred to Paris and Julie because she is an under-achieving, failed writer stuck in a desk job and nearing her 30th birthday and, again, needs to find something to do.

I'm not reviewing the movie, I just want to say it is perfectly charming. Julia Child and Paul Child are played by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci respectively and they have an amazing chemistry - during the romantic moments or even when they are sitting quietly together. Julia's portion makes the movie, it's charming and vibrant with Streep's larger than life portrayal of Julia. Julie Powell and her husband are played by Amy Adams and Chris Messina and their portions, while not as vivid as the rest are quietly engaging proving a testament to Ms. Adams charm in front of the camera.

The movie is written and directed by Nora Ephron, so yes it's chick flick territory but largely unlike the regular fare. I guess the difference here is that the couples are already in love, Streep and Tucci especially, and while they have their spats they are still supportive of their spouses. And just in case it wasnt clear already, I loved the movie.

But coming to the point of the post - the food. The food was all that I had expected and more. From the first shots of a perfectly browned fish sputtering in butter sauce which is Julia's first meal in Paris to Julia's famous boeuf bourguignon the food was the unacknowledged star. Needless to say I was drooling and I dont even like stews much. Thank God for my BIG tub of popcorn, I doubt I could have made it through the movie without it.

While there's ample movies with Western food, J&J, the recent Catherine Zeta-Jones starrer, even the highly entertaining show Kitchen Confidential (why do all the shows I love end up getting cancelled??bah!) it's much rarer to see Indian food treated like the star in Bollywood.

So imagine my surprise when the opening shots of Cheeni Kum (the Tabu- Amitabh Bachchan starrer, a May-December romance) showed colorful spices being roasted, onions sizzling in oil, coriander garnishes, all exquisitely framed in a pristine kitchen with chefs in pure-white smocks and caps. The opening sequence was so enthralling, it made me realize that I've rarely seen Indian food presented so beautifully as it is here.

And my enjoyment of the movie was guaranteed once the Hyderabadi zafrani pulao made it's appearance, looking so perfectly saffron tinged I wanted to eat it- RIGHT away! Coming to the movie, Tabu and AB were amazing, AB especially wonderfully eccentric in the scene where he lists the ingredients of the pulao right before being slammed with the knowledge that it was made by Tabu. It's not a perfect movie by any means, melodrama taking over the latter half but I came away with positive thoughts about it all because of the first few scenes.

Watching these two movies recently has just made me realise that it's very rarely I absolutely dislike movies about food or based on food. I loved Chocolat, Like Water for Chocolate, liked No Reservations, even enjoyed Harold and Kumar go to Whitecastle. Sadly, that's all the food movies I've seen.

How about you? Do you have a favorite food movie? And I'd love any recommendations, especially for Bollywood.

However right now, I'm going to go raid the piece of emergency dark chocolate I hide in my cupboard for just such occasions. All this talk of food has made me ravenous!!


avdi said...

Girl, luckily its early morning here. Or I would be needing a bucket to catch my drool.

Cant think of any food movies right now. Will come back when I do.

But - I loved the swirling choclate in Chocolat, and the yummy things made there.

I used to watch Madhur Jaffery's show, she had some presence.

I agree entirely about the charming Amy Adams. You should watch Ms Pettigrew lives for a day.

There is a show called Jamie at Home.. the things he cooks ! Once he baked a salmon in a biscuit tin !!!!

Anonymous said...

No. Can't remember any food movies. I may have watched many movies over food, but nope...there isn't any food movie that I can recall to memory offhand.

Sanjeev Kapoor's Khana Kha-jana did evince a lot of interest in me. Inspired by his culinery skills, I once purchased a baking oven. Nowadays the cockroaches in the kitchen cupboard use it for baking their eggs.

I enjoyed Chini Kum. Tabu (I mean Tabu's performance) was worth drooling over :-D


samir said...

HeHeHe, and you said you would not review J&J (LOL), I knew you would not be able to keep away.
I think you already know what I think of this post; I HATED IT. (Yeah That's the ticket, Jon Lovitz SNL).
Coming to the movies, liked and saw ALL from your list; and er!!! you included H&KGTWC (LOL). No I will not include the other obvious guy ones.
But my list :-
1) Godfather Part 1, Plenty of food scenes & references :-
a) Wedding of Connie, Michael telling Kay to eat her lasagna.
b) Clemenza teaching Michael how to cook sausage & meatballs.
c) When Michael kills Sollozzo & McCluskey at the restaurant, they are eating veal with a nice Italian red.
d) How can I forget; "Drop the Gun Take the canolies"; Rudy Guiliani used to mimic this so well.
e) And a few more.

2) A Good Year with Russell Crowe about a London Bond Trader inheriting a Chateau & a vineyard in Provence. Several food & wine & Provencal countryside scenes (not to mention Russell Crowe & Marion Cotillard.)

3) Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane, and Tuscany instead of Provence.

Bollywood has at a few where the heroine (from a rich home obviously) tries to cook from a cookbook and messes things.
And yes, Bawarchi with Rajesh Khanna; had all sorts of items like "Making Suran Kebabs taste like Mutton Kebabs."

Anyway, I am hungry now; so will stop and try and locate some of the aforementioned food items.


couchpapaya said...

avdi - oh jamie oliver is so cute!! for some reason the network here has dropped his show (grrr) but i used to watch avidly when they showed him before :) the salmon in a biscuit tin sounds classic, i shld see if there's any youtube videos of it!!

roflindian - i'm amazed at ur largesse towards the roaches .... anways, u drooled over tabu, me over AB. god, he was charming in the movie. of course being bwood they made him do undignified things but i can blame the director for that!!

samir - HEY, i didnt review, i even mentioned it in the post. the review is for u to do :) and ur an amazing encyclopedia of food scenes!! i cant believe i've never watched 2 and 3 in ur list, will remedy immediately. thanks :) as for the rich heroine messing up recipes, i dont really want food scenes i want the movie to largely revolve around food AND the food should look pretty .... i'll check out bawarchi though. btw cannot stand rajesh khanna so that might not go so well :P

Angel's Flight said...

I really do want to see this movie :)...and for the mention of yummness....I just had awesome hybrid of Mexican and Mediterranean and Loved it!!

udtahaathi said...

You guys discussing mood movies w/o mentioning Ratatouille ?
Or is it you don't think it qualifies because it's an animation ?
Bish- if you have not seen it, you have missed something as a food/ movie lover.
My other fav food related movie would definitely include 'Golpo Holeo Sotti'- Bangla (the Tapan Sinha's 1966 original masterpiece which was remade as Bawarchi later).
I hated Bombay to Bangkok because of the food it shown.

WhatsInAName said...

I simply adored Cheeni kam :-) Lovely story executed amazingly well. And to your reply to rofl, i think RGV made AB did worse things in his that-kothari-movie :-)
btw i dont remember any foodie movie too but i do remember loving Nancy Drew books for the way Carolyn described! Was food for my imagination :-)

samir said...

Chocolat was excellent, do try her first recipe; adding a little cayenne pepper/red chili powder to hot chocolate.

Thanks for the compliments, and another movie "Tortilla Soup"; about a widowed Hispanic Chef and his 3 daughters. Plenty of yummy Mexican food.

Agreed omitting Ratatouille is a cardinal sin; but LOL @ a confirmed non-veg recommending a veg dish named movie. (Yes I read your blog :) ). BTW, I think the dish is better than the movie, I do make it sometimes although not with the exactness of Julia Child.
This is one of dishes that makes one admit that someone other than Indians can make good veg. stuff.

And thanks for the info re: the origin of Bawarchi. Now that you mention it, Bawarchi did have some Bengali overtones.

couchpapaya said...

angel - mexican and med? i've never had this combo before, intriguing! and go watch it, better that district 9 i guarantee it!!

uh - i've not watched ratatouile but ur right, for me animation doesnt count. but thanks for the bengali movie refn, i might look for that. atleast watching it wont increase my bp like watching rajesh khanna :P

WIAN - poor AB and his paapi pet, what all it makes him do :D ur right, i loved the nancy drews too and all the books i read back then!

samir - whoa! u actually made the recipe from chocolat?!! even if it's simple all my brain can process is the pretty pictures :D btw, if i were to buy one of the contessa books, which do u recommend? i generally want quick & easy recipes rather than the finicky ones.

eye-in-sty-in said...

I loved Cheeni kum! It was delightful... and different! Tastefully different!

samir said...

Try "Barefoot in Paris"; I could not find our copy, but it was good.
Most of her recipes are a little involved, but persistence usually pays.

couchpapaya said...

EISI - ur right, it was so different. i did wish the director had embraced the idea and made it different all the way instead of adding the bits that irritated me :)

samir - thanks! will look for it, have been toying with the idea of cooking from a cookbook ala julie and who better than the contessa :)

Smita said...

Nah! can't think of any food movie but few days back I was reading that some movie was shot in delhi starring some firang, Seema Biswas & Lisa Ray. It is the story of a diplomat who learns to cook Indian food. Somehow the premises sounded attractive to me.

Have read about J&J and quite liked what I had read so might see it and with u recommending it I might watch it :-)

Cheei Kum was nice spicy movie I liked Tabu in it :-)

couchpapaya said...

smita - that movie does sound good, will keep an eye out for it. yesterday in keeping with the theme i watched mistress of spices. have u seen it? it was HORRIBLE!!!! they've just massacred the book :( and the less said of our fav heroine the better :D

Smita said...

Nah! I have spared myself the torture for few simple reasons. Though i had liked the book but felt it wasn't at par with our CBD books. Then once i had read then book i was so damn sure that it would be difficult to make a movie out of it & i knew they can never be good to the book. And then to add to our woes with our personal fav as lead i knew it can't go worse than that. So i stayed away and aren't i glad :D

couchpapaya said...

smita - when she starts whining "chillies why are u angry" i bust my sides with laughter. all with soulful eyes turned to said chillies. bah!! i have to wash my eyes out with soap it was that bad. i dont know why i watched, need a brain check :(((

Mama - Mia said...


thank you for making me hungry when i dont really have access to yummy food! grrrr!

i have only seen chocolat and just loove that movie and not just for dishy depp! :p

and even though you dont like Rajesh Khanna, watch Bawarchi for Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic! :)

and yes, i totally enjoyed Cheeni Kum! except last 30mins i guess!



couchpapaya said...

abha - that's called revenge, i seem to remember saying the same to you umpteen times :D hmmm ok with all the votes will add bawarchi to my list, but it's going at the very end :) but q., does no one else find rk ANNOYING?!

Mama - Mia said...

i dont find RK particularly annoying! :D

and you havent watched Ratatouille? you kidding me?! dont consider animation movies?!! gah!!!!

go go go watch it NOW! its a beautiful movie! and seriously animation is not for kids always!!



couchpapaya said...

abha - i do watch animated movies -i even did a review on one on that other site- and will get to rataouille sometime. i only meant it wasnt considered for the purposes of this post ie. movies with food because i want to watch the food itself :)

Yword said...

Great to read youagain. Will get this film pronto. soundsyummy. but u reallymust see ratatouille. it is a real foodie film and actually more adult than child-oriented.

Cant wait to catchthis.

couchpapaya said...

M!! am so thrilled to see you here!!!! will head over to your blog asap :) rat.. has been added to my list, will see it soon methinks with all the reccos here ...

    I also blog at ....

    Search This Blog

    Currently reading ....

    The Secret Wedding

    Blog Awards

    Blog Awards
    Thanks, Abha

    Thanks, Angel's Flight

    Thanks, Avdi

    Thanks, Nishita