BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Reel Cuisine: Blockbuster Dishes from the Silver Screen by Nami Iijima, photography by Elina Yamasaki

Reel Cuisine

This cookbook is probably the most unusual little collection I’ve ever come across … and quite a treat for the brain as well as potentially for the stomach. The writer/chef, Nami Iijima, is a Tokyo-based food stylist who has created tasty dishes for commercials, TV, and film worldwide. She also writes a Japanese newsmagazine column, “Reel Cuisine,” which combines her love of food and film … read on!

“‘Slice of life’ is one of my favorite film genres, and in such films there’s almost always food,” she writes in her introduction. “But sometimes the food is only shown for an instant, or if it’s featured prominently I have no idea how to make it myself. I’m guessing there are other film fans out there that feel the same way.” So she began to “faithfully recreate the dishes shown in various films so as to appease film fans and movie buffs,” including 17 attempts she went through to replicate the perfect chiffon cake as shown in The Secret Life of Bees! But don’t be intimated … because she promises the recipes are “easy and accessible, even for people who are enamored with cinema but aren’t so confident in the kitchen.”

Divided into five sections, the first features dishes Iijima created for films for which she was the food stylist. Talk about behind-the-scenes: Chicken Nuggets (nothing like the fast food version!) in Antarctic Chef about a cook who creates meals to cheer up the workers in the coldest place on earth, Boiled Tripe from Villon’s Wife based on an Osamu Dazai story about the long-suffering wife of an alcoholic philanderer, Rice Balls for Seagull Diner about a Helsinki diner where the main offering is … rice balls.

In the second section, “Travel Around the World,” Iijama stops for Chicken Meatball Phở from Good Morning Vietnam, Silken Crab with Vegetables from Eat Drink Man Woman, Fish and Chips from Dear Frankie and Popcorn (!) from Welcome to Dongmakgol. She serves “Happy Brunch” in part 3, offering Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce from The Godfather: Part III, French Toast from Kramer vs. Kramer, Fried Rice from Tampopo, and Kidney Bean Soup from Red Like the Sky.

You can invite the relatives in part 4, “Delicious Family Dinners,” and serve Risotto from Big Night, Sauteéd Salmon from Life is Beautiful, Steak from My Date with Drew, and Samosas from The Namesake. You’re surely promised sweet endings with “Cinematic Sweets,” including Apple Pie from The Shawshank Redemption, Brownies from Notting Hill, and Iced Azuki from Glasses.

Hungry yet? Forget book club! I’m thinking it’s time to start a monthly (weekly?) movie night featuring one of these films with its corresponding dish! Anyone wanna join me?

At book’s end, Iijima includes a few days from her fascinating work diary with “I love cooking and eating,” written across the top of each page … and you can’t help but think, “Me, too! Me, too!” right along with her!

Readers: Adult

Published: 2011 (United States)


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