Justin Tan and Ryan Hemsworth will be your dates for tonight. (Photo: Bianca Müller)

Foreign films, foreign food

Can't afford a plane ticket to your next travel destination? Here's a cheaper solution.


Some things in life are best enjoyed when paired with a seemingly unlikely thing. Chocolate and chili (or strawberries and black pepper). Literature and rainy days. Dinner and jousting (think Medieval Times). Film and food.

Here is an introductory list of fine, contemporary foreign films paired with simple, delicious dishes belonging to their respective countries. So go out and rent some films, get some groceries, and invite some friends to come over at your place.

You'll experience spoonfuls of new cultures without having to leave the comfort of your own home.

Bon appétit et film


Film: City of God (Cidade de Deus) - Drama/Crime - 2002

The scoop: Set in the real Cidade de Deus, a neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro, this intense film about two friends going down different paths offers a raw portrayal of crime and violence on the Brazilian streets. The beautiful cinematography leaves juxtaposed images of a violent reality ingrained in your mind for a long time afterward. A caveat: City of God is not a light movie, so we don't recommend you watching it right before a night of samba.

Food: Feijoada - the Brazilian national dish, brought to South America by the Portugese

Ingredients: typically black beans, carne seca (salt-cured beef), chorizo, pork ribs, bay leaves, onion, garlic, olive oil

Recipe: See the full recipe from Maria-Brazil.org here



Film: The Double Life of Veronique (La double vie de Véronique) - Drama/Fantasy - 1991

The scoop: How can we include France and not choose a life-sucking romance? Director Krzysztof Kieślowski (say that name five times quickly) is known for putting together some of the most beautiful films to be offered up in French cinema over the past 15 years. There is always a damsel in distress, the audience is always hoping for the best, and (spoiler alert) the damsel always dies, or something like that. This one will bring you close to whoever you're watching it with -- so choose your company wisely.

Food: Bacon and leek quiche - a favourite of Julia Child's.

Ingredients: BACON and other stuff of secondary importance (see link below)

Recipe: See the full recipe from delish.com here




Film: The Edukators (Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei) - Drama/Crime - 2004

The scoop: This film was nominated for the highly-coveted Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004. Its ingenious plot revolves around three young anti-capitalists involved in an unplanned kidnapping of a wealthy businessman. The original German title translates as "the fat years are over", but try not to feel any guilt while munching on our recommended food pairing. The movie's not talking about you.

Food: Gingerbread house - or Pfefferkuchenhaus, to be exact. Just in time for the holidays!

Ingredients: gingerbread house kit, patience (some architectural dexterity also required)

Recipe: Just go to Walmart and buy yourself a gingerbread house kit



Film: Life is Beautiful (La vita è bella) - Drama/Comedy/War - 1997

The scoop: We chose an easy recipe for this pairing because most of your efforts for the day will be put into fighting back tears as you watch Life Is Beautiful. Set in the middle of the Second World War, an offbeat, loving father uses his silly sense of humour to make his son and wife forget the harshness of reality while being detained in a Nazi concentration camp. This is one of the most heartfelt movies out there... and this might just be one of the prettiest sandwiches, too. 

Food: Italian peppers & egg sandwich - sometimes the easiest meals are the most satisfying. Enjoy this one with some cabernet sauvignon. Or, cheap red wine?

Ingredients: sopressata, Genoa salami or prosciutto, and some other sandwichy stuff (see link below)

Recipe: See the full recipe from delish.com here




Film: Kamikaze Girls (Shimotsuma Monogatari) - Comedy/Fantasy - 2004

The scoop: This zany and entertaining film, based on a 2002 novel of the same name, is about an unlikely friendship formed between a Lolita and yankee girl (two Japanese fashion subcultures). Succinctly put, it's an aesthetic treat for the eyes just as SPAM is an epicurean treat for the tongue.

Food: Spam musubi - SPAM sushi, an oft-misunderstood dish created by Japanese-Hawaiians

Ingredients: can of delicious SPAM, Japanese or Calrose rice, seaweed (nori), soy sauce, an open mind

Recipe: See the full recipe from momofukufor2.com here




Film: Amores Perros - Drama/Thriller - 2000

The scoop: This film is the first in the "Death Trilogy" (the other two being 21 Grams and the Academy Award-nominated Babel) by director Alejandro González Iñárritu. This director has a natural talent for effortlessly presenting interwoven characters and plots that pull viewers into the very fabric of his films. Amores perros connects three stories, all centred on the unifying theme of love, with loyalty, loss and regret in the periphery. Like any good Mexican dish, this film is heavy... and at times spicy.

Food: Tostadas - like giant, open tacos... a Mexican favourite!

Ingredients: corn tortillas, your choice of meat, and anything else you typically associate with Mexican food (see link below)

Recipe: See the full recipe from SimplyRecipes.com here




Film: Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)Drama/Horror - 2008

The scoop: Let The Right One In takes one of the stranger forms of cinematic romance. Yes, it's a vampire movie, but it exists entirely outside of the Twilight realm. This is a slow-creeping, subtle take on the old-fashioned horror film and young love. We chose turkey meatballs as a pairing because beef might not be the most appetizing choice during some of the more gory scenes (there aren't many though, don't worry). And make sure you watch the original, not the bastardized Hollywood remake!

Food: Swedish turkey meatballs - turkey... in spherical, bite-sized Swedish form.

Ingredients: ground turkey, delicate hands (see link below)

Recipe: See the full recipe from Food.com here


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