The new film Hundred-Foot Journey, about an Indian grill that opens 100 feet from a Michelin-starred French restaurant, paints French cuisine as dry and mechanical, Indian food as boisterous and soulful. The heartwarming, you-can-do-anything glitter of a film—a gifted immature chef, Hasan, defects from his family’s Indian grill to a French one, and afterwards to culinary superstardom in Paris—is no surprise, deliberation that dual of a producers are Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg. A third is Juliet Blake, a former National Geographic Channel clamp boss and now a calm writer for TED. National Geographic talked to her about “space-age” food, her husband’s cooking, and Marmite.
What was creation a foodie film like for you?
We wanted to be certain all on set was edible. There were no food stylists.
Food stylists? You mean, like, putting timber mark on a turkey to make it demeanour improved for camera?
Exactly. We didn’t do any of that. You could eat all we saw. And a lot of a organisation did [laughs].
We infrequently contend “French food” as if it’s usually escargots and frogs’ legs, or “Indian food” as if it’s usually saag paneer and goat biryani. But there is so most operation in these cuisines. How did we collect a dishes to show?
The food had to audition. It was a character. For a Indian food, for example, we wanted dishes that looked prohibited and spicy, unequivocally loyal to themselves and not pretentious.
There’s a stage after Hasan starts operative for a French restaurant, where his father sits down to try a play of boeuf bourguignon. Hasan’s younger siblings ask for a taste, too.
Yes, a lady spits it out and says it doesn’t ambience of anything. They’re used to, in India, unequivocally sharp food even during a immature age. In France, there is Provençal and Parisian food, yet display outlines a disproportion between them, not flavor.
And in this plot, a French cuisine plays arrange of a purpose of a villain. And a Indian food is a hero.
It’s set in France, so a Indian enlightenment is a outsider. On a opening night of a Maison Mumbai, a Indian restaurant, they contend that they’ll have to use booze to tenderize a meat. They’re a ones who have to adjust first.
It’s a movie, so there were all these visible clues—montages, lens flares, slow-motion tender eggs attack a bowl, light attack spices in certain ways.
There was a good one, when a Indian grill has a opening night and you’re saying all these colorful dishes, steam rising, regulating large spoons and ladles to dip adult duck korma. And afterwards it cut to a French restaurant. And we had baked all these dishes, and a usually one a executive showed was open unfeeling mousse with chanterelle mushrooms, that was intensely minimal.
I indeed laughed during that. It was comically pretended in a presentation. More about a artistic drizzle than anything. It looked like what we called “a fromage panini,” when a grill is too snobby to acknowledge it’s usually a grilled cheese sandwich.
The executive usually prisoner a disproportion between a cultures so well.
Something we find so peculiar about food enlightenment is that most of what we consider of as normal is in fact alien. In France, a croissant came from Vienna. Egg rolls came from San Francisco, not China. You and Helen Mirren, who plays a French restaurateuse, have both pronounced that when you’re divided from Britain what we skip is a Indian food.
Exactly. There are all these colonial influences, still. And food can tell a story, certainly. It has a story if we let yourself try it.
There was also a third cuisine in a film, a molecular gastronomy in Paris, that represents a kind of third culture, a enlightenment of a future: a cauliflower ice cream, and a crème brûlée with cardamom, a things of vaporizers and bellows and eyedrops. Was that tough to convey? It’s so unproven.
I know it seemed a small space-age during times, yet all of that unequivocally exists in genuine restaurants that we can unequivocally eat. The categorical thought there was that it had to demeanour almost different. There’s that line, where they contend Parisian food is all about creation creation innovation.
What kind of participation did we have on-set to countenance your food choices?
We had dual Indian chefs and one exemplary French chef. They would tell us a differences not usually in a dishes yet in a ways of cooking, how a opposite cultures clout differently. Like, oh we wish we get this right, there’s a red chopping residence for meat, a immature chopping residence for vegetables or onions.
Where did we cheat?
Sea urchins—they do eat it in India, yet not as ordinarily as in France. We favourite a demeanour of it, and a thought that it’s like a lobster, it has to die while being cooked. There was that stage in a commencement of a film where Hasan’s mom tells him that to prepare we have to make ghosts. And, to be honest, there’s no approach those spices would have survived. Anyone knows spices like that would keep for maybe 6 months. They’re in a movie, though, not as a existence yet as a psychological tool.
Generally, there was this visionary enchanting energy of food, generally a Indian food. It seemed unequivocally personal. And afterwards we review that your father is a cook, and we both grow vegetables during home.
When we lived in [Washington] D.C., we grew everything: Squash, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbages, carrots. Now we’re in Brooklyn, we have a unequivocally large herb garden, some tomatoes and kale, lettuce, aubergines.
What are your food habits?
I’m vegetarian. Well, I’ll eat a bit of fish each now and then, yet not really. Lasse Hallström, a director, who also did Chocolat, is vegan. He grew adult in Sweden picking mushrooms.
There are all those mushroom-picking scenes in a film. we adore that line “We weren’t picking flowers. We were looking for mushrooms…and we found flowers.” we was wondering if we deferred to any outward viewpoint for authentic tastemaking consensus.
A smashing book by Adam Gopnik, who writes beautifully for The New Yorker, called The Table Comes First: Family, France, and a Meaning of Food. Just brilliant.
There’s also so most nostalgia with food, of course. we grew adult in London and we don’t crave anything organic from there. we crave 99p Flakes, Jelly Babies, and HP sauce. Is there no place for chemical, invented food for people with good taste?
I eat Marmite. We still keep Marmite in a residence and we put it on toast sometimes. But we adore new things, too. The other day my husband—we had people over for lunch—and he done something out of smoke pastry, green cream, honeyed potatoes, pumpkin seeds, and a tomato salad. It was incredible.
Has any of this desirous we to be some-more adventurous in your culinary life?
I was in SoHo a other day and speckled this extraordinary Indian food truck. It was so pleasing we took a garland of photos. But we had usually eaten so we didn’t unequivocally try anything. Then when we returned looking for it, it was gone.
Oh, food-truck Brigadoon is a genuine problem.
I know, we know.
This talk has been edited and condensed.