One thing that Europeans seem to understand that we don’t: Food is good.
It’s not what we eat, it’s the way that we eat that is bad. Oh, I know that’s what we say, but we don’t seem to believe it. We Americans make so many rules about food and eating that it take the fun right out of it. Cut down on carbs, don’t snack, eat a healthy breakfast every day, and don’t eat late at night – tell that to the skinny Italian women who eat loads of pasta at 10:00 PM and have, for breakfast, a cappuccino and pastry.
Here it is – the last word on food – it’s not the pasta, or what time you eat, or anything like that. It’s the huge portions that we eat. And McDonalds. And the Coca Cola. That’s not enjoying food – that’s becoming a slave to it.
Italians know something about enjoying a meal, and here are some movies that celebrate preparing and eating them.
In Io Sono l’Amore (I Am Love) the emotions around the food, the love, and sex were hard to differentiate. Emma Recchi ( played by Tilda Swinton ) is a Russian woman whose dysfunctional family hits a particularly rough patch. When she moves from Russia and marries Tancredi Recchi, she gets it all; a gorgeous villa, and beautiful accomplished children. But from the very first moments of the film we can see the signs of a downward spiral in Emma’s eye.
Watch it for the intrigue. Watch it for the food.
Big Night is more of an Italian-American movie, but it’s a “must see” for Americans who love Italy, Italians, and Italian food. Two brothers who have come to America from Italy try to make it in the restaurant business prepare for the meal of a lifetime when they find out that Louis Prima is coming.
I actually learned a little bit about cooking from watching Gianni Di Gregorio cook in Pranzo di Ferragosto (Mid August Lunch). Gianni, the typical Italian food lover cooks for some unexpected house guests. Funds are limited, but “si mangia bene” just the same.
And how about some dessert? In Ferzan Ozpetek’s ‘La Finestra di Fronte’ combines the bitter and the sweet, and the sweet is fueled with beautiful pastries. Starring Giovanna Mezzogiorno, it’s a love story, a holocaust story, and a story about creating beauty with food.
Claudio Cupellini’s romantic comedy, Lezioni di Cioccolate (Chocolate Lessons) has everything I expect in a rom-com; an amusing plot with lots of sexual tension, comic sidekicks and false pretenses,young, good-looking protagonists, and a happy ending.
It stars, Luca Argentero, Violante Placido, and oh, the chocolate.