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Friday, June 22, 2007

Ratataouille -- delighting in digital cuisine

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2007 at 5:11 PM

I am the target audience for Pixar’s Ratataouille. I love Pixar (I think I own more of their toys than my 5-year-old nephew does, and I was Jessie for Halloween the year that he was Buzz Lightyear – and I hadn’t worn a costume for years), and, yeah, I love food, but most especially the kind of French food I was taught to cook in Paris at the Cordon Bleu and that Remy, the rat-star of Ratatouille, aspires to prepare.

Kim Severson wrote a mouthwatering article about the movie in The New York Times, revealing the great lengths that Pixar went to ensure verisimilitude, including cooking classes, eating in fancy Parisian restaurants, and working with master chef Thomas Keller in his French Laundry kitchen.

For a week or so now, I’ve been watching Ratatouille at home. Not the whole thing -- nine minutes that are accessible on my TiVo which often dangles such temptations in front of me, all of which I’ve previously been able to resist. I’ve watched those nine minutes three times, meaning I’ve already spent about a quarter of the time I’ll be in the theater watching the actual movie. And I may watch it again -- for the beauty of the images, as well as the wit of the conceit: watching Remy fix a soup that young dishwasher Linguini carelessly ruins, with a graceful, beautifully conceived and edited ballet of pouring stock and flinging seasonings. “The idea,” Severson wrote, “was to create food so authentic that people would leave the theater with an urge to cook and eat.” Hey, I enter the theater with an urge to eat, but who could resist Gusteau’s, with its old-fashioned dining room and immaculate tile-floored kitchen gleaming with burnished copper pots?

But here’s a quibble: during a scene on the quai of the Seine when Linguini decides to learn from Remy rather than toss him in the river, he asks “What did you throw in there? Oregano? No? What? Rosemary? That’s a spice, isn’t it?” Well, no, it’s an herb.

I can buy that the authors wanted Linguini to appear clueless. But the knowledgeable Remy nods.

Oh well. I just watched those nine minutes again. I am so buying the DVD. -- Meredith Brody

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Matt Stroud


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