Ill watch what shes watching

By Paula Johnson

Photo: Kôji Yakusho as Man in White Suit and Nobuko Miyamoto as Tampopo in “Tampopo”

“When Harry Met Sally’s” famous scene of orgasmic ecstasy has gone down as one of the most iconic cinematic moments of all time. Taking place in a diner, Meg Ryan simulates sexual climax after dining companion Billy Crystal claims he’s certain no woman has ever “faked it “ with him. The line everyone remembers is a neighboring diner telling the waitress, “I’ll have what she’s having.” And who doesn’t fondly recall budding romance being consummated with a kiss while slurping spaghetti in Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp”? Remember “9 1/2 Weeks”? That’s usually first on everyone’s food/sex movie list. The movies have long married sex and food, with food as an aphrodisiac and precursor to sex. It makes sense; food and sex are both activities that use all the senses in a similar way.

The granddaddy of cinematically sexy food porn is 1963’s film adaptation of the Henry Fielding novel “Tom Jones,” starring Albert Finney and Joyce Redman. The pair face off across the table, consuming lustily a cornucopia of foods including juicy pears and slippery oysters, culminating with cleaning the meat off of chicken bones in a highly suggestive way. It’s a long scene; no words are exchanged as the camera cuts back and forth with close-ups of their mouths as background orchestral music swells to a fever pitch. Utter erotic abandonment follows with the pair bolting from the banquet table to a banquet in the bedroom.

Erotic depictions combining food and sex run the gamut from romantic comedies pairing culinary pursuits with the passion of the heart, to those which are mostly adolescent humor featuring a lot of exploitive ogling, those which are openly and graphically erotic, those more implied and subtle in their sexual overtones, and finally to those that are down right hilariously guffaw-inducing. Whichever type you go in for, I strongly advise watching these films with a lot of food (and someone you like a lot).

Paula’s picks

“Big Night” 

One of the best banquet scenes ever. Two restaurateur brothers gamble everything on one night. Love, sex, and the most amazing (and possibly only?) timpano you’ve ever seen on screen. If you don’t know what a timpano is I am not divulging. Watch this movie.

“Chocolat”  

A sensuous and sensual feast with Juliette Binoche starring as an itinerant chocolate maker who sets up shop in the most uptight of towns. Favorite scene: the lustful abandon and gluttony her officious nemesis succumbs to when he can no longer resist her chocolate making.

“Like Water 

For Chocolate” 

The title is a colloquial euphemism for being sexually aroused. This film is the best marriage of food and eroticism ever made. Forbidden passion is unleashed by a dish Tita makes from quail, rose petals, and a tiny drop of blood. Everyone at the table is affected. Tita’s sister Gertrude runs to the outhouse to “relieve” herself, it bursts into flames, and she rides away naked, backwards on a horse with a rebel soldier. Gives new meaning to the term “hot and bothered”….

“Babette’s Feast” 

Wryly funny, poignant, and utterly delightful. This takes the cake (and everything else) for the best food movie ever made. After a great tragedy, a renowned French chef finds herself as cook for an aging religious community on a remote island. (Aging because all pleasures of the flesh including sex and eating tasty food are forbidden). Babette repays their kindness to her by producing a feast of epic proportions, and the looks on their stern faces as they try not to taste what they are eating is hilarious and touching.

Honorable mentions

“Ratatouille”

An amazingly sweet animated story of a little rat who becomes a chef—a particularly accurate depiction, as chef Thomas Keller consulted.

“Toast”

Helena Bonham-Carter’s baking prowess and short aprons attract the attention of her future husband, while his son indulges in some self-pleasuring under the covers with a flashlight and a cookbook.

“The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover” 

An abusive mobster takes over a restaurant where he dines nightly with his wife played by Helen Mirren. Connecting across the dining room over a bite of food, she begins a torrid clandestine affair with a mild mannered bookseller, which takes place all over the restaurant (including the kitchen and bathroom).

“Tampopo”

A truck driver and a widow combine forces to transform a struggling noodle shop into a ramen palace.

“Bridesmaids” 

The Hungry Bear Sandwich scene at the end between Melissa McCarthy and her real life husband… “Do you see how my flap opens?”

“American Pie” 

Another iconic moment when Jason Biggs has carnal relations with an apple pie his mom baked for him.

“Woman On Top”

Penelope Cruz gets a phallic chili pepper rubbed on her lips.

“The Hundred Foot Journey” 

Sweet, albeit predictable, love story with two couples of differing backgrounds and ages brought together by food. Order Indian take-out to watch this one. Trust me.

“Dukes of Hazzard” 

A lasciviously made sundae is the focus of local law enforcement

“Flashdance” 

In an elegant restaurant Jennifer Beals simulates oral sex with a crustacean, and her foot in her date’s crotch.

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Paula Johnson
Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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