I love the movies. They make me laugh, giggle, cry and believe every dream does come true. But then, there are those movies that have food as the central theme. These movies make me ecstatic like a kid on Christmas morning. I'm completely, unabashedly, totally consumed with every scene, every dialogue. I watch them over and over again. Frame by frame, rewind and forward scenes just to give me a happy hormone rush.
And so, I thought I'd share some of my favourite food-based movie afterthoughts with you. I start with my recent most watch which was Paris Can Wait directed by Eleanor Coppola. While IMDB can give it an undeserving 5.8 rating, I believe the movie bursts with true-to-life dialogues with pieces of advice everyone I believe should meditate on. I highly recommend Paris Can Wait, an indulgence into the South of France's rich culture, food and wine from the root level.
Diane Lane, playing the lead as Anne, the conservative and skeptical American visitor in France is accompanied with Arnaud Viard as Jacques, her makeshift companion she depends on to take her from Cannes to Paris. What was supposed to be an 'oh, you'll reach there by dinner trip' turned out to be a road adventure that I wish all of us at least once in our lifetime will experience.
Here are my top 8 dialogues/observations from the movie that are a must-do on your next trip:
1. Embrace changes and unplanned events in your travel plans.
A missed flight, a setback in health or a road repair led delay - welcome it all as the best of your holiday experiences come from detours and the unplanned, the unexpected. In the movie, Anne was recommended to skip her private charter flight because she had a terrible earache. That's how her husband's business associate, Jacques, happily volunteers to drive Anne to Paris. What was initially a hesitant 'yes', soon turned out to be Anne's best of life experiences waiting to unfold.
I can't help but remember a similar experience when I was living in Madrid when I couldn't take a flight to Bucharest after reaching the airport with packed bags. That's when a friend told me to blind-pick any flight that was due to fly in the next one hour. A random choice to Rome led to a train ride to Salerno followed with a bus trip to the Amalfi Coast! A trip that was so unplanned but my most memorable yet.
2. "Driving is the only way to see a country" says Jacques to an unconvinced Anne. I couldn't agree with him more.
Some of my most memorable travel memories have been road trips. Whether it's been driving from Madrid to Barcelona through the lovely small towns, Rome down to Amalfi Coast then up north to Tuscany and finishing off at Cinque Terre or through Cape Town in South Africa - nothing compares to how adventures from a road trip with friends can leave you enriched with life lessons.
3. Take pictures of your food, the nature, and your travel companions along the way.
All through the movie, one thing you can't help notice are the enduring photographs Anne takes with her camera (and not smartphone!). They are spontaneous but have an angle to her travel memories.
Click, click and click because when you're back to the city madness, those pictures will want to make you plan your next trip or bring visual life to your travel narrations.
4. "Taste the wild flavor straight from nature"
All through the movie, you'll see Jacques making pit stops for local specialities. Whether it's the local butchery that sells handmade sausages, a basketful of juicy fresh strawberries or wild watercress plucked from the riverside, Jacques encourages Anne to indulge in seasonal, local produce. As Jacques assuringly says, "Most of the people don't realize there are many wonderful things to eat growing right under their noses."
Don't look for familiar tastes and let your taste buds go on a vacation too. Let them explore new flavours and textures. There's so much local food can tell you about the people, their ways, and culture.
5. Wear or carry a memorabilia.
At one dinner in Cannes, Jacques narrates the meaning of a bracelet he never takes off. It was given to him by a chef in Barcelona. "The bracelet reminded the chef of his humble beginnings and how extraordinary it is to be eating like how we are", he recalls. A bracelet, a cord, a souvenir, a banknote or even a receipt. Whatever it is, carry something with you that always reminds you of how blessed you are to be living the life you are.
6. Don’t be eager. Be amazed.
The perfume of freshly picked flowers at the back of the car, an unplanned stop at the textile museum or a picnic in the wild. Anne would have missed all these things if Jacques would have driven her straight off to Paris. Each time Anne was overly anxious and eager to reach Paris, I loved Jacques’s response "Paris can wait!”.
While you will eventually reach your final destination ‘don’t forget to smell the flowers along the journey’ which literally translates to don’t be blind and ignore what life gifts you with. Being anxious on a trip to follow an itinerary or upset about unexpected events will only steal you of what could possibly leave you amazed.
7. Visit food markets.
Ah! A sight for the senses. Of all my travels, food markets leave me excited like a kid left at a play store. If you think I’m joking, watch this impromptu I-think-I-can-be-a-presenter experience when I discovered Mercado de San Miguel, the food market in Madrid.
While in Lyon, Jacques takes Anne and a friend to the ‘best food market in the whole of France’. From cheesemakers that have been in the trade for over 200 years to fresh meats, Anne and her camera equally stir up an appetite for the finest French ingredients.
8. “The best food in the world is straight from the garden with very little done to it. Authentic.”
This is perhaps my favourite scene in the movie when Jacques and Anne make a detour to visit a cathedral at Vezelay. After an emotional moment at the cathedral, Jacques nonchalantly says, “Food is good for the soul”, to say that food is the antidote to life’s problems. I agree with Jacques.
They visit a restaurant in Vezelay, where a tomato salad gets Jacques nostalgic. He recalls 'going into the gardens with his mother plucking tomatoes and preparing them while the tomatoes are still warm from the sun on a slice of bread with good olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper.' I love that description! It’s like a love story written for food lovers.
Last but not the least, if you love your glass of wine or have no idea of the same, then Paris Can Wait is your crash course to some of France’s classic wines, its history, and food pairing. Don’t go with what I say, watch the movie :)