A Serious Question Regarding Eastern Asian Cinema And Food

by tully
February 26, 2009 2:05 AM
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I saw Tokyo! yesterday, and it happened yet again. It's a problem, and I can't help it. The problem is this:

Every time I see Eastern Asian food being eaten in an Eastern Asian movie, I absolutely crave it.

I could have just eaten a huge meal or be suffering from food poisoning, yet as soon as I see a character chopsticking into a bowl of noodles in an Eastern Asian-inflected motion picture, my stomach opens and I don't just want noodles; I need them.

A few recent, very diverse, examples of this strange phenomenon include Up the Yangtze, Tokyo Sonata, and perhaps the saddest confession of all: yes, the eating-a-living-octopus scene in Oldboy.

This doesn't happen when I'm watching American movies (well, with the exception of Take Out, but there you go). It doesn't happen when I'm watching Russian, Italian, Scandinavian, or French movies either. So why does this only seem to happen with this type of cinema and this type of food?

I guess my first question is:

1) Does anyone out there have this same problem?


2) Why is this?

My brilliant girlfriend suggested that this is simply proof of MSG's lasting power, how it's more powerful a drug than McDonald's golden arches. A very clever—and valid—supposition indeed. But the same thing happens when I see sushi in an Eastern Asian film (see: Tokyo!). It's not just Chinese food.


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  • jt | February 27, 2009 6:31 AMReply

    if it helps, I feel an intense desire to down a bottle of burgundy every time sophie marceau bats her eyelashes. just to take away the pain of the realisation she will never be mine..

  • Andrew | February 27, 2009 1:21 AMReply

    For sure. I just finished dinner next to a guy eating Chinese food and I wanted to club him and steal it. So addictive.

  • Dana Elder | February 27, 2009 12:35 AMReply

    Michael is this this you. Call me at 845 541 9129

  • ben crum | February 26, 2009 9:54 AMReply

    what's that wong kar-wai movie where the man's and woman's spouses are having an affair and the woman helps him with his novels? she's always bringing him noodles in a thermos and stuff. that one does it for me.

    btw, see this article on MSG:


  • nat sanders | February 26, 2009 8:39 AMReply

    oh, and as far as a why, my guess is it has something to do with the eating looking very clean and neat and efficient. when you watch others eat in films - esp. in tighter shots - they look like pigs at a trough, and it's repelling.

    in my opinion, the chopsticks are a big, big factor...

  • nat sanders | February 26, 2009 8:00 AMReply

    thank you, michael tully, for bringing this important issue to light.

    have you seen DAYTIME DRINKING yet? my noodle intake has more than doubled ever since i saw that film, and that film is the primary if not sole reason. and i saw it almost 7 months ago.

    ugh. i just thought of this one eating scene in there again, and now i want noodles. bad.

  • c mason wells | February 26, 2009 4:45 AMReply

    I get this all the time, too, which is a major problem, as I watch a lot of slow Asian art cinema with long takes of people eating. I almost couldn't stand it while revisiting the amazing CAFE LUMIERE last year.

  • sophia | February 26, 2009 3:03 AMReply

    go back and watch Eat Drink Man Woman...you will want to eat your TV screen...