A feast for the eyes ruby tandoh on food and film life and style the guardian apple crisp recipes with oatmeal paula deen

Bursting through the cinema doors with a flurry of servers and henchmen, a slick gangster and his girlfriend breeze down to the front row. Their entourage erects a little round table and unveils a platter of breads, meats and fruit. Two champagne flutes are filled. The girlfriend fiddles idly with her lace gloves. Just as the feast is laid out, the mobster notices us watching. He comes towards us, cocking his head as he stares down the barrel of camera. “so, you’re at a movie too?” he says. “what are you eating?”

So begins juzo itami’s tampopo. Food is at the heart of this so-called “ramen western”: it practically splits at the seams with ramen, seafood, milk, sweets, ice-cream, eggs and meat. Comprising a series of interwoven storylines, the film darts from a party of businessmen blundering through a french lunch in a high-end hotel, to a child eating a forbidden ice-cream and a dying mother hauling herself from her deathbed to make one last meal.Call your name


in one infamous scene, the mobster and his girlfriend pass an egg yolk between their mouths again, and again, and again, until the tender film bursts and egg spills over their lips in messy climax. In another, an old woman prods and pokes every last peach, cheese and bread in a supermarket with prying, bruising fingers.

We’re not just watching the food on screen, we’re eating it with our eyes; we’re not just eating, but also watching others eat; and then, as that sleekly suited mobster leans conspiratorially into the camera to address us, we’re not just watching others eating, but being watched eating by them in return.

Food and film were made for one another. We spend half our cinema time trying to wrest our hand out of the minstrels bag; food shows erupt exuberantly across our TV screens, all day long; popcorn is an icon of the silver screen as much as any film star. When we watch, just as when we eat, we consume, opening our eyes (and mouths) to a new story.Call your name

When I watched like water for chocolate shortly after christmas, I was languishing in the post-festive blues. I’d just quit a job and was wading through the grey days. And then I saw tita, heartbroken by the betrothal of her one true love to her older sister, cry into a cake batter which, when served to the wedding party in thick, lavish slices, made everyone collapse into uncontrollable sobs. Later, she cooked quail with rose petals (from flowers given to her by the man she loved) and her middle sister – only a few bites into the meal – had to run to an outhouse to masturbate. Gertrudis was so overcome with passion that the outhouse burnt down around her. Straightaway, I wanted to reduce the whole world to rubble with an apple pie.

What’s special about this 1993 mexican film is that it pinpoints the magic that food and cinema share: the ability to transpose something vague – heartbreak, lust, loneliness or fury – from the world of feelings to the world of things.Call your when gertrudis emerges from the embers of the burnt-out shack and rides off with a guerilla fighter, completely naked against the expanse of the scrubland: that’s all the wildness and ecstasy of falling in love in a single frame. When tita’s cooking makes her haughty eldest sister fart herself to death, that food is the embodiment of their mutual resentment. Emotions are made visual, feelings are given a flavour.

The evocation of feelings through food isn’t a new thing: a tunnock’s teacake can take us from a city desk to nana’s living room in a single mouthful, and taste of a love lost. When I smell fish and chips in the air, I’m immediately back on southend seafront. With a sip of mcdonald’s strawberry milkshake, I can almost feel my teenage spots resprouting across my forehead. And peaches take me to an orchard in northern italy – memories of a place I’ve never been – and sun-dappled queer landscapes of call me by your name.

Call your name

Facebook twitter pinterest call me by your name: ‘plentiful breakfasts in a world where queerness is goodness.’ photograph: co/sony/kobal/REX/shutterstock

The film’s two young, queer protagonists – nervous elio and brazen, all-american oliver – enjoy plentiful breakfasts of juice, fruit and bread; they sip on espresso and smoke cigarettes; they lounge on the grass under the pregnant branches of the apricot trees, heavy with fruit. In one now notorious scene, they have a strange, messy kind of sexual encounter via a downy, saffron peach (you really have to watch it to understand it). When so many LGBTQ storylines revolve around trauma and hurt, call me by your name is a sweet relief: the orchard is a nursery, and elio and oliver are nourished within it. This is a world where queerness is goodness, and goodness is a sweet, ripe peach.

LGBTQ people like me are forced to look harder for reflections of ourselves in film – we’re seldom the hero or the heartthrob.Call your name and from this absence deepens an appetite not only for the hearts and bodies of the people we fall in love with, but also for representation of these love stories in the culture that surrounds us. When we find these stories, we gobble them with half-starved fervour. I’m thinking of the scene in blue is the warmest colour where adèle sobs as she crams a chocolate bar into her mouth, choking on her burgeoning sexuality: sat in the dim cinema alone and questioning everything I thought I knew about who I was, I drank in every moment of that scene.

In moonlight, too, there are moments of queer nourishing. We see chiron shapeshift from bullied boy, to unhappy teen and hardened young man as he reshapes the trauma of his youth and navigates his complex sexuality. Perhaps most memorable is the meal he shares with childhood romance kevin: cooked for chiron by the man he loves, with gentle care. But the eating here is about more than just romantic love.Call your when he was a runaway child, chiron was taken in by juan. Huge plates of food were put in front of this scraggly boy; they went swimming in the blue ocean together; they felt the sun. A boy who barely knew kindness was fed, and – confounding the expectations of toughness foisted upon young black men – was allowed, for a moment at least, to be soft. In a society where black men are given so little, and expected to deal with so much, this tenderness is a radical thing. Our mouths are the site of so much exchange. Words come out, food goes in: this is a strange, inbetween place. It’s a vulnerable thing to open up wide, but it’s the only way to grow strong.

Adrienne shelly’s 2007 comedy waitress couldn’t be less like moonlight. This is a small story on an archetypal small-town stage: waitress jenna dreams of escaping her bad relationship and dull job. And when she dreams, she dreams in pie. So far, so sickly. But this isn’t, no matter what the critics might say, pure sentimentality.Call your there’s “I hate my husband” pie and “pregnant miserable self-pitying loser” pie. For a while, jenna hates the baby inside her, and resents the drain of this small human thing – eating her from the inside out – on her body. She hates her abusive husband. She hates her life. And yet she goes on making pies – sickly sweet, camp, hyperbolic pies – because that is what she loves. Waitress could easily have been a daydream about the perfectly tactile, wistful, eager-to-feed manic pixie dream girl of your dreams. But, instead, it’s about the woman who won’t make you another damn thing, because she’s tired of your crap.

Waitress is about food, sure, and eaters – the people, mainly men, who clamour for the nurturance of jenna’s touch – but mainly it’s about feeders: who feeds who, why, and at what cost. Just like tita in like water for chocolate, or juan and kevin in moonlight, jenna finds an unusual kind of strength through feeding. Eating might nourish us – that mashing of food in teeth and gums – but it’s in feeding that we get a taste of the relationship we have with the world and with the people around us.Call your I feed my gummy, gurgling kind-of niece toast crusts. My girlfriend feeds me pancakes. Elio fed oliver a peach laced with part of himself. Jenna stopped feeding her husband earl. I’m going to watch clueless again now, for the thousandth time, and get my hand stuck in the minstrels, because that’s what feeds my soul. You should do the same.

Eat up! By ruby tandoh is out now (serpent’s tail, £12.99). To buy a copy for £9.99, go to guardianbookshop.Com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. P&p of £1.99.