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Monday, January 17, 2011

The Danger of Prawns and Ukha Soup

LAST night, David and I watched the 2009 movie, I Am Love, with Tilda Swinton, one of our favorite actors. But what neither of us expected was that food would play such a major role in the film.

Swinton plays Emma, the wife and mother in an ultra-wealthy family, who over time, comes to know her son's best friend more intimately than a mother should. Antonio, her son's friend who also happens to be a chef, invites Emma, her mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law-to-be to his restaurant in Milan for lunch. The young chef sends the ladies dishes of his own choosing which he presents with exquisite meticulousness. When the main course, prawns and ratatouille with sweet and sour sauce, is presented to Emma, the camera bathes her in a singular light as she seems to forget her surroundings for a moment in time. (she enjoys the dish to an orgasmic degree)

This moment in the film presents "food as catalyst" moment number one, setting off a series of events beginning with Emma's pursuit of Antonio.

Soon after her orgasmic luncheon, Emma heads off to Nice, where Antonio spends part of his week growing vegetables on a remote (two hours by car) mountainside. Once there, Emma finds Antonio who takes her to his mountaintop shack where they spend the better part of the afternoon making love. Emma continues her mountaintop rendezvous where she also teaches Antonio how to make Edo's (her son's) favorite ukha soup.

Shortly thereafter, Edo's father plans a dinner party and Edo insists that his good friend Antonio prepare the meal. The first course: ukha soup. Edo had been having suspicions (he found a lock of his mother's recently shorn hair on the mountainside) about the pair, Antonio and Mamma, and seeing the ukha soup--a Russian dish, that in Italy, only his mother would know how to make--only confirmed them.

Moment number two; food as catalyst.

I don't want to give away what happens next, but I found this film so (pleasantly) unusual for allowing food to play such an important role in regards to major turning points within the film.

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