(Before you ask The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover never made the cut because, though brilliant, like Soylent Green it’s people, people. Not appetising.)
5. The Last Supper: (No not that one). “The conservatives are effective. They do things. All we do is buy animal-friendly mascara.” Five graduates host lively debates over dinner with “˜alternative’ guests and deadly conversation after Bill Paxton’s surprise visit challenges their liberal consciences. Vile guests, deep black comedy, tips for growing luscious tomatoes and an early appearance by Cameron Diaz; The Last Supper is a treat for anyone who ever wished their dining companions would hurry up and leave the table.
4. Goodfellas: Trust me on this. You may think you know Goodfellas inside out, I’m sure it’s already in your DVD collection, hell, you may even have upgraded to the Blu-ray already, still”¦you don’t know Goodfellas. This gangster classic is, as every great Italian story ever told, all about food. Consider Paul Sorvino in a prison cell, going to work with his blade: “He was in a year for contempt and he had this wonderful system for doing the garlic. He used a razor and he used to slice it so thin that it used to liquefy in the pan with just a little oil. It was a very good system.” Henry and Tommy sitting down to have a little bite with Tommy’s Mama after “˜work’. Or a tomato sauce bubbling on a stove as the FBI close in: “Keep an eye on the tomato sauce and watch the helicopters”. Goodfellas = good food.
3. Simply Irresistible: “I love dessert, it’s the whole point of the meal.” I make no excuses for my love of this film. It is sillier than a very silly thing but, somehow, it is also slightly brilliant. Sarah Michelle (Buffy) Gellar, a hopeless chef on the verge of losing her beloved late Mother’s restaurant, finds love, luck and cooking know how with the help of a magic crab. There is hypnotic vanilla fog, dreadful dialogue and a dining scene so ridiculous you may think I have irrevocably lost my mind but”¦the food. Sometimes it is just nice to lose yourself in a little stupidity and have a damned good excuse to eat a box of éclairs. This film is that excuse, enjoy it with my blessing!
2. Waitress: “Pregnant Miserable Self Pitying Loser Pie… Lumpy oatmeal with fruitcake mashed in. Flambé of course.”Adrienne Shelly’s Waitress is perfect. It is a gem of a film and it makes me smile whenever I see it. Waitress tells the bittersweet story of Jenna (Keri Russell), a small town girl who’d like only to live a quiet life, make pies and maybe win the state pie contest. She is handicapped in this quest by her horrible husband Earl and her accidental pregnancy. (A pregnancy that occurred when she accidentally had sex with her horrible husband Earl.) Her hopes, fears, anger and secrets are all baked into outrageously appetising dishes ““ plain old apple pie will never look the same to you again after viewing this scrumptious movie.
1. Moonstruck: “La bella luna! The moon brings the woman to the man. Capice?” Do you remember what I said about Italian movies? They are like Italian families – food is at the heart of them all. Moonstruck may be the greatest illustration of this I have ever seen. When Loretta Castorini (Cher) visits a Brooklyn bakery to tell her fiancé’s estranged brother the news of their upcoming marriage she loses her heart and changes her fate ““ much to her disgust! Swooningly romantic, this is one of my favourite films of all time as well as being my top foodie movie. Olympia Dukakis’ dignity as Loretta’s Mother Rose, dining alone at a neighbourhood restaurant in the face of her husband’s affair, her razor sharp wit and threat to kick her Father-in-law to death for feeding her food to his dogs. Cher rowing with Nic for his stubborn pride five minutes after they meet as she sizzles a steak on the stove “bloody to feed your blood”. The morning after in the Castorini kitchen with a furious Rose fixing oatmeal for the family and Loretta hiding from her intended in a closet. Messy, complicated and brilliant, Moonstruck is all about appetite, for life, for food and for love. It has opera, it has Cher, it has passion, and it has Nicolas Cage ““ what more could you ask?