Never judge a book by its cover. While general assumptions about people may be correct a lot of the time, there is no way to truly know everything about someone just by looking at them. All of us have some sort of hidden talent that many don’t know about. What’s more egregious is overlooking someone just because of their appearance. How often do we ignore the quiet person silently reading in the corner, while they harbor away a talent as an actor or singer? By the same generalization, how often do we write off the loud, obnoxious buffoon, while they keep a deep intellectual talent hidden beneath their noisy exterior? Even though there may be many talents that make us go, “I never would have pegged so-and-so as that kind of person,” one talent that is increasingly rare is that of a cook. This week’s two films look at some hidden culinary talent.
Length: 102 minutes / 1.7 hours
An assumption often made about refugees is that they are poor farmers. While this may be true, not all refugees are poor or are farmers. The fact that someone is a refugee merely means that their country is in a state of turmoil. Now, most people would stay and put up with it, but occasionally situations dictate the need to move on and move out. Most communities have many varied people who have many varied occupations, not the least of which is a chef. The problem with a chef as a refugee is that oftentimes the locations where they end up do not have the resources to support such culinary talents. Most restaurants really work in logistics: making sure food is available so that it can be served to customers. Without the restaurant, someone’s cooking skills may go largely unnoticed and ignored.
A much respected French restaurant once charged a fortune for a multi-course meal that was so memorable that many only live with the memory of having eaten the meal once. Of course, as it usually does, war has made this luxury scarce. Meanwhile, in a small Danish village, a woman arrives and begs two sisters to let her stay and work as their maid and housekeeper. This woman is known as Babette (Stéphane Audran) and is a refugee from war-torn France. To celebrate the anniversary of the sisters’ deceased father’s 100th birthday, Babette convinces them to allow her to fix them a meal they will never forget. As it turns out, Babette has come into some money and is more than willing to use it to put on the best meal that this little village has ever had. The sisters are leery of what Babette will cook, but a special military guest is surprised to be eating the same fantastic meal he has had once before.
Length: 111 minutes / 1.85 hours
Part of the brilliance of Pixar films is their main characters. From ants who want to work smarter and not harder, to robots who think outside the box, the most endearing aspect of these memorable protagonists is that they are outside the norm. While everyone else is seemingly programmed to do only one thing, these characters see the flaws in the system and try to break away from it. Ratatouille is no exception. Rats are filthy creatures that eat mainly garbage, so the idea that one would be obsessed with cleanliness and fancy cuisine would come as a shock, but the bigger shock is that this rat is actually good at cooking said cuisine. As I mentioned earlier in this post, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and that applies to animals as well (or at least within the confines of Hollywood, that is).
Remy (Patton Oswalt) is a rat with an obsession. He cannot get enough of cooking, especially after watching a cooking show hosted by famous chef, Gusteau (Brad Garrett), whose catchphrase is, “Anyone can cook!” When Remy gets separated from his family after getting caught sneaking in the house of an old lady, he finds that he has washed ashore underneath Paris, mere feet below Gusteau’s famous restaurant. Once again getting caught indoors, Remy comes to the aid of Linguini (Lou Romano), who is just looking to make a name for himself. In a very “Of Mice and Men” fashion, Remy controls Linguini and soon they’re the talk of the town as the revival of Gusteau’s restaurant. Unfortunately, if they get found out, it’s over. To make things worse, a key critic is ready to unknowingly judge the talent of the unique rat.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 secret chefs