Let's Eat

These gastronomical foreign film fantasies will whet your appetite and drive you to ransack the cupboards for that last bag of micro-wave popcorn. So eat, view, and be merry.

Babette's Feast (1988)--Babette must leave her life as a world class chef in 19th Century Paris and take refuge with some kindly yet strict old ladies in rural Denmark. She labors for years, forsaking her love of butter and eggs, for the bland food the repressively religious Danes have her cook. One day, Babette comes into good fortune and convinces her employers to allow her to make a feast beyond compare. The result is a tragically funny battle between the passions food can evoke and the lifestyle religion enforces. Food Comparison: Chocolate Soufflé; delicate, rich, and worth the time and effort.

The Wedding Banquet (1993)--Before The Ice Storm and before Crouching Tiger, Ang Lee made small films about people and food. This being one of his sweetest, it showcases his budding talents. Wai-tung (Winston Chao) is in love, and now his parents are coming from over seas to meet this love and to arrange the titular meal. Only problem is Wai-tung is in love with a man, and a white man to add injury to insult. So in true Three's Company fashion, they pull a little switcheroo, to fool the 'rents. Of course... things do not go as planned. Food Comparison: Curry Gluten; meaty, sweet, and spicy hot with touches of clove and cinnamon.

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1989)--Helen Mirren, Tim Roth, and Michael Gambon have the luster of a thousand dirty diamonds in this horrific and hilarious piece about jealousy, passion and, of course, vittles. An affair has been had, Georgina has chosen books over brawn, and her mean, mean hubby is not a happy man. The finale gives weight to the argument that cannibalism is the ultimate act of love. Food Comparison: A Slow Roasted Bratwurst; juicy and savory with hints of brown sugar and garlic. BRIAN BRAIT