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I just watched Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman for the first time. Immediately after the movie credits started rolling, I stopped the DVD and went back to the opening sequence during which the father, the chef, kills a fish by whipping a set of chopsticks into its maw, guts, scales and filets it, and bathes it in oil before gently lowering it into the wok; tenderizes a squid with a cleaver; juliennes a radish at lightening speed; blows up a duck with his mouth and smokes it; fills and rolls crab dumplings into the shape and size of ping pong balls; and then, plates everything beautifully for the ritual Sunday dinner, which all three of his offspring dread. Come dinner time, they barely touch the food.¬† One of them even complains, “The ham was oversmoked.”

If you’ll allow me to take the food porn metaphor and run with it, it was like a big c***tease (one word or two?). So disturbed by the unfulfillment of this sequence (yes, the blue balls), not even the last scene when the father tastes his daughter’s soup and [SPOILER ALERT: SKIP THE NEXT LINE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE] realizes that he gets his taste back sated this frustration that I had to take upon myself and order in some Chinese from Grand Sichuan. And I rarely ever want Chinese proper. (It’s funny when you order so much food for yourself that it comes with two sets of utencils. Eh hem.)

Interesting that Ang Lee, as he tells it in the “Special Features” section of the DVD, that there was a period in his life—six years—when he didn’t work but just wrote screenplays. His wife brought home the bacon and he cooked and Mr. Mom-ed. He didn’t say “food porn,” per se, but he equated it to sex, and talked of this very scene, bringing it to life (five master chefs behind it all as hand stuntmen), and the grinding halt after the build-up. Oh Mr. Lee, how you toyed with me.

What is your favorite food-related movie? I’m open for suggestions for my Netflix queue.

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Mmm, 2-D food

I saw the too cutesy but still enjoyable “Ponyo,” the new Miyazaki movie on Saturday. I don’t know what it is about food depicted in cartoons, but it makes my mouth water more so than real food in movies with actual people. I’m not a big ham person, but I wanted a slice of ham after Ponyo slurped up her first slab. It’s been years—decades, even—since I had instant noodles, the kind in styrofoam cups that you pour water into, and you have to wait three to five minutes until the noodles¬† soften and the seasoning packet blooms into a flavorful (read: salty) broth, but I wanted to run to the nearest Korean grocer and get a tub of Shin Ramen after watching Ponyo and Sosuke dive into their bowls. I hear my tummy grumbling every time I watch the part in “Spirited Away” where Chihiro’s parents start eating the heaps of food in random unattended huts in the woods. I know it’s the foods of the spirits, but I would’ve easily turned into a pig in that situation. (Random food in platters? No waiters? Strange surrounding? Why not!)

I don’t know what it is. It’s might be that it’s often so attractive looking—the ham slice was a ruddy pink with perfect rounded edges, and the bowls of ramen had the half-moon slices of fish cake and steam rising from them just so. Or maybe it’s just fantasy in that I don’t need to worry about where it comes from or whether it’s local or organic or minimally-treated or raised without hormones. Eating without worries or consequence (no weight gain!). Maybe a desire for regression. Hmm.

Lard Lad donuts, anyone?

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