Due to miscalculating my budget last month.I had a bad case of the munchies and was inspired to do my next series on foreign food… okay, okay, foreign films about food, happy now?

For this weeks Wednesday Double Feature I watched foreign films about food starting with TampopoYou know that Juzo Itami’sTampopo (Dandelions)… isn’t going to be a typical movie when we start with a screen view of another movie theater where people are gathering to watch the movie. One of the viewers, a Yakuza, notices us, looks directly at the camera and tells us to enjoy the film and if we make any noise he’ll come over and beat the crap out of us.

Itmami describe Tampopo as a western and like any respectable western it starts with a lone stranger, Goro, played, by Tsutomu Yamazaki , with his sidekick Gun, played by a very young Ken Watanabe, driving into town in their semi and stopping  at a run down noodle store run by the eponymous character played by Nobuko Miyamoto. They decide to help her learn to make the best ramen noodles in town and revitalize the shop.

Along the way we’re shown all there is to know about making Ramen Noodles, the broth, the noodles themselves, and yes the passion. We’re also given lots of side sketches, including a ramen master explaining the right way to eat noodles, the Yakuza thug from the beginning of the film experimenting with the sexual possibilities of food with his mistress, A low level executive showing up his superior with his order at a posh french restaurant, a dying woman cooking her last meal for her family, and my personal favorite, a trope of homeless gourmets! This last bit leads to my favorite scene where one of these homeless gourmets sneaks into a kitchen with a little boy to cook a rice omelet.

This movie was hilarious, and I loved nearly everything about it. After seeing it, it is hard to keep from running to the international district to find out if real Ramen noodles are as good as this movie says.

For this weeks Wednesday Double Feature I watched foreign films about food including Babette's FeastThe next film on my list, Babette’s Feast, directed by Gabriel Axel, was another I’d known about for a while but didn’t really know much about it. I knew so little about it, in fact, that I was surprised that it wasn’t a French film, but Danish.

Babette’s Feast tells the story of two aging sisters, Martine (Birgitte Federspiel) and Philippa (Bodil Kjer), living in a remote religious community on the coast of Jutland. We learn about their lives growing up with their strict father, a highly respected pastor and the leader of the community. We are told about their life and missed opportunities. Once this is established we are introduced to their maid, Babette Hersant, a French refugee played by Stéphane Audran, who they take in. Fourteen years later, Babette wins a lottery and asks the sisters if she can use it to cook dinner for the celebration of their late father’s birthday.

This film is a lovely quiet poem about the joys of good food and community. The film lovingly goes through every course treating the diner’s enjoyment as a religious experience and food as an art that should be given away. (despite this I still felt a little sorry for the turtle and the quails.)