George Egg: 'He folds the salami but this only makes things worse'
- Brian Donaldson
- 8 February 2018
The DIY chef takes us through his favourite cinematic foody moments
DIY chef and anarchist cook George Egg previously turned a hotel room into a working kitchen, using its trouser press, kettle and pillow cases to create a three-course meal. In his new show he's set to do the same with some tools from his garden shed. Here, he tells us about his top five favourite food-related film moments, from heart-breaking French Toast to disgustingly stale 'tots'
My immediate thought when writing this was that these have to be funny food clips from films: but why? My show is a cross-genre piece of comic performance that (and I'm trying not to sound too pretentious here) blurs the lines between stand-up comedy, illustrated lecture, cookery demonstration and theatre. On the surface it's about cooking with non-culinary equipment, but underneath that, it's about loneliness, creativity and survival. So why only chose food-centric clips from films that are funny? Why not broaden that brief? So here are my five favourite foodie moments in film …
Spinal Tap and the backstage catering problems (1984)
I saw Spinal Tap in my mid-teens and immediately warmed to it. In this scene the band are confused by the backstage catering and chiefly by the fact that the bread is too small for the fillings. Christopher Guest's utterly charmingly and child-like Nigel Tufnel can't figure it out while his poor confused manager tries to help him by suggesting that he folds the salami to fit in the bread, but this only makes things worse.
The French Toast scenes in Kramer vs Kramer (1979)
I saw this film when I was a little boy and it was one of only a handful of videos that we owned on Betamax (yes, I was from a Betamax family). Because of this I've watched it hundreds of times. There are two scenes in the film where Ted (Dustin Hoffman) and his son Billy (Justin Henry) make French Toast together. They're completely different and both utterly heart-breaking.
Any from a plethora of moments from Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
This film is rich with food. So much so that my family often kills time on car journeys playing games of '20 questions' where the answer has to be an item of food from this film: Uncle Rico's steak; the ham that's fed to Tina; Deb's 1% milk; the delicious bass . . the list goes on. I think my most memorable foodie moment is the 'tots' that Napoleon steals and eats from his pocket in class. More so because listening to the DVD commentary the cast members and director reminisce about how they were completely disgusting and stale, with the crunch being added by a Foley artist.
The ratatouille tasting in Ratatouille (2007)
I had to have Ratatouille in here. It's epic. And I've chosen the moment where the cynical critic is broken by sheer talent. Remy has decided to cook this simple peasant's dish for restaurant reviewer Anton Ego despite everyone advising against it. Ego sniffs at it, pokes it around a little and then tastes it. And the moment he does so he's transported back to his childhood. All art has the power to do this and the moment it happens here is magical.
Keith and Candice Marie discuss chewing during Nuts in May (1976)
Far and away my favourite thing that Mike Leigh has made. Two middle-class somewhat holier-than-thou vegetarian campers on holiday. That's all. Like the best of Alan Partridge, Basil Fawlty, Larry David or David Brent, while you're cringing at Keith (Roger Sloman) you're simultaneously sympathising and, to a degree, empathising with his plight while desperately wishing he could deal with it in a different way. In this scene Candice Marie (Alison Steadman) questions Keith's rule that food should be chewed 72 times citing that mushrooms are a lot softer than nuts. Keith chews (and I adore how long they draw out his internal counting) before he concedes that it depends on what it is you're chewing.
George Egg: DIY Chef is on tour until Saturday 28 July.