• December 9, 2022

Get stuffed: TV, art, books and more devoted to food, glorious food

  Reading time 4 minutes

Between Bonita Applebum, Butter and the Jam, hip-hop titans A Tribe Called Quest are not shy about paying gastronomic homage. On Ham’n’Eggs, floating like croutons over a languid beat-soup, Q-Tip and Phife Dawg tie foodie punchlines like cherry stems, extolling the virtues of candied yams, slim jims and “nice red beets” as if cooking up a big Sunday brunch in the deep American south. They might be warning of high cholesterol, but it has the opposite effect; if you’re not raiding the cupboards by its call-and-response close, you’ve got much better self-control than us. Jenessa Williams

Television

From “crack pies” in New York to onion pakoda in Bangkok, Chef’s Table is a voyage through the cuisines, food traditions and obsessions of chefs across different continents. Each episode follows a new chef in detail; you can meet the “master of umami” Ivan Orkin, whose ramen you can taste through the screen, and then jump into the mad world of dough-obsessive “mozzarella maven” Nancy Silverton. It’s the personal histories that really make the series – scenes of innovative and mouth-watering dishes mixed in with heartbreaking stories of psychological breakdown, property destruction and the loss of homes, but also inspiring social advocacy for undocumented migrants, women in the workplace and conservation efforts. Jason Okundaye

After fleeing the crackdown on the Paris commune of 1871, Babette ends up as a servant in a small Norwegian town, in Babette’s Feast, the novel by Karen Blixen writing as Isak Dinesen, serving up austere dishes of cod and soup to the puritanical daughters of a local minister. But when she wins the French lottery, Babette uses the funds to demonstrate her true artistry. She cooks up a feast for the repressed siblings and their friends, giving them the finest food and wine known to humanity. But it isn’t just Blixen’s descriptions of the food and drink that give you an appetite – it’s the pride Babette takes in their creation. Food for the heart as well as the stomach. Sam Jordison

You almost believe you could eat this fruit. Fede Galizia, a female painter from late Renaissance Milan who specialised in still life, gives the peaches not just deep sensual colour but a furry texture that tickles the tastebuds, a rounded massiveness that makes you feel their weight as you pick one up and take a bite … then try the plums. The ancient Greek artist Zeuxis was said to have fooled birds into trying to eat his painted fruit. Galizia rivals him. She shares this gift with her contemporary Caravaggio but his fruit is always on the edge of decay, while hers is a virtual happy meal. Jonathan Jones

Buns are steamed, pork braised and a single red chilli expertly sliced in the opening scene of Ang Lee’s comedy Eat Drink Man Woman. Its first lines are, fittingly: “Have you eaten yet?” followed by an argument over how best to cook fish. Zhu is a semi-retired chef and widower living with three adult daughters in Taipei; one plans to move out, and is unsure how their father will handle the news. Food is a source of love and intrigue within the family, often filling the gaps for things left unsaid. It is also a character unto itself in a film; there are appetite-whetting shots in a home kitchen, a hectic restaurant kitchen and a bustling banquet hall. Lee, who would go on to make Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, has said he wanted to “make a movie that makes the audience’s saliva keep growing”. He certainly succeeds. Rebecca Liu

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