Nowadays, a conversation about food generally means sharing the
latest diet miracle trick or focusing on what is deemed healthy
and what is not. This is of course important in a world where
obesity and its related health problems are dramatically rising.
However, there is a certain sadness to realise that often the
notion of pleasure associated with eating has disappeared. There
is one country that remains faithful to its culinary culture
tough, and that is Italy. This explains why food plays such a big
part in movies set in this country or featuring Italian
Going back to the fifties and sixties, a prime example is "La
Dolce Vita," directed by Federico Fellini and starring Anita
Eckberg and Marcello Mastroianni. You can literally smell the
aroma of the pasta dishes served in the Roman trattorie and it is
a struggle not to get ravenously hungry. You would love to try
these recipes yourself? You can still find them on the Internet
A bit closer to us, can you recall the famous quotes from Enzo,
played by Jean Reno, one of the main characters in "The Big Blue",
released in 1988 and a fantastic box-office success for director
Luc Besson? Enzo is adamant that "pasta has to be eaten al dente"
or is genuinely scared about his mother's wrath: "She will kill me
if she catches me eating pasta in a restaurant!".
And how about the ragù sauce, prepared and served to her family on
Sunday nights by Sophia Loren in the 1990 film "Sabato, domenica e
lunedi"? The famous actress is actually a skilled cook in real
life and has published a few recipe books. And one of the sayings
attributed to her tells us: "Everything you see I owe to
"The Big Night" is a 1996 movie with Tony Shalhoub and Stanley
Tucci. It recounts the story of two Italian immigrant brothers in
the fifties struggling to keep their New Jersey restaurant afloat.
The older one is the masterful cook who cannot bring himself to
offer the mediocre meals that make a neighbouring place so
successful. The younger one is the restaurant manager desperately
trying to save their business. Without giving too much of the plot
away, the key moment is the preparation of a mouth-watering feast,
the central piece being a form of timballo, an elaborate baked
Last but not least, "Eat Pray Love" is recent enough for the story
and pivotal scenes to still be clearly present in our minds. Julia
Roberts, playing author Elizabeth Gilbert, spends time in Italy,
India and Bali. How not to love the scene where she is so enjoying
her pizza in Napoli
that her line is: "I am in love. I am having
a relationship with my pizza."
That bit of movie dialogue sums it all up, does it not?