The Hundred-Foot Journey: A Review

100footFood has the power to evoke memories and emotions. One bite or an elusive whiff can take you back to a certain place and time, to a feeling that resonates in your heart and gut. It can make you nostalgic. Biscuits do that for me. My MaMaw made the best biscuits I’ve ever tasted; big, perfectly round, a light golden brown with a texture so soft it melted on your tongue. They were perfection and I was mad about them. I’ve never had a biscuit that even came close to MaMaw’s. Now, they are only a memory but a powerful one that brings back Sunday dinner at her house with aunts and uncles and family friends eating around her bountiful table and visiting into the late afternoon. I miss it.

The Hundred-Foot Journey is all about food. The physical act of preparing and cooking it, the camaraderie and competition and the love that goes into it. It’s about family and tradition and the  mix of cultures, the teaching and learning and the sharing of those cultures. It’s about how food can grab a hold on your heart (as well as your belly!) and never let go.

Emilie and I attended a pre-release viewing of this film courtesy of The Commanders Family of Restaurants with Chef Tory at The Theatres at Canal Place. I already knew I wanted to see it so I was excited to be invited. It was everything I’d hoped it would be. The cinematography was fantastic from the vibrant colors and textures of India to the sweeping pastoral views of the French countryside to the tantalizing food itself. The food is so integral to this movie it almost eclipses the story of the people who cook it. My mouth watered at the Beef Bourguinon a la Hassan to the Tandoori Chicken (those recipes and more below!) and all the other delectable dishes in between. It made me crave Indian food. It made me want to go to India and France. I’m not a Foodie so I can’t speak to the technical aspects of the food preparation and presentation but as just someone who likes to eat, it was all five star to me! I especially enjoyed the vegetable chopping scene – it was fun to watch.

I felt all the characters were cast perfectly. Helen Mirren (one of my favorite actors) plays an impeccable French matron (to this American). Not only was her accent convincing, her persona exuded French, to me. Her manner of speaking, how she held her body, her fashion style and even her hair all convinced me she was French. The other actors, too, were so convincing I imagined they were exactly who they portrayed.

I’m not going into the particulars of the story since I’m sure most everyone has seen the trailer. (Here it is, if you haven’t.) What I will say is that it was so refreshing to watch a genuinely enjoyable movie with a sweet story that didn’t have a high speed car chase, things exploding, super-heroes or dysfunctional families. It was just a good, solid story that made you laugh, cry, and forget the outside world for a while. That’s something that’s getting more rare every day. The film opens today. Go see it!

Visit the official website for more about the storyline, the characters, and photos.

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Femme Fatale Friday: Lorin Gaudin, Food Goddess

 Lorin Gaudin, aka NOLA Food Goddess, is indeed a Food Goddess Extraordinaire! She is  the Food Editor/Writer for Where Magazine New Orleans, does foodie podcasts for GoNOLA Radio and is a contributor for The New York Post and Culinary Consierge. She bakes weekly with Chef Lisa Barbato of Rivista, both of whom can be seen on Saturdays at the Crescent City Farmers’ Market and she’s also  runs a business, FiveOhFork,  where she crafts content for major food companies, restaurants and chefs. On top of that, she’ll soon be writing for the new CityEats New Orleans site owned by Food Network. I talked to Lorin recently to find out just exactly what makes a Food Goddess tick.

Lorin, I used to watch you almost every Friday night on Steppin’ Out where you were my favorite panelist because your love of food was so joyful and your passion for the subject reached out through the TV to me. Please fill me in on how and why food became your passion.

Thanks for those kind words! You’ve hit the nail on the head, I am a passionate foodie. Food and cooking have long been my soul-call, it’s the way I see the world – through taste, smell and color. Food is my art and expression, also my salve. Food and reading saved me in many ways. I suppose that’s why I’m such a cookbook fanatic.

You mention that you cook – not all foodies do. What is your specialty?

I love to cook French, American (traditional, contemporary and molecular), Asian and Middle Eastern.

What is your earliest food memory?

I remember my first bowl of cornflakes. I was very young and I can’t explain why or how I recall this, but I remember the rough and squishy feel of the flakes, the cool milk and the sweet milky-corn scent. Even today, if there is a box of cornflakes nearby, I can take a whiff and be transported to that first bowl. Yes, I know that’s odd, but that’s me. My family, going back several generations, are all artists and eaters – I’m hardwired.

Almost everyone has someone in their family who is legendary for their cooking. Mine is my paternal grandmother. Who is yours?

She was the woman I call the mother of my heart – her name was Annie and she was from Troy, Alabama. Annie and I cooked, danced and laughed together for 15 years. She taught me how to put together a great meal with balance, and how to time everything to come out together hot. My Aunt Lillian was legendary for her cheesecakes, kolachkes, and a long list of gorgeous baked goods. She was genius, and she knew she had a captive audience in me, so she’d make extras of everything, pack them in a bakery box tied with string and a note scribbled across the top, just for me. I loved both these wonderful, creative women.

Do you have any foodie “idols” or anyone who inspires you? Who are they and why?

Every cook inspires me in some way, but my one and only idol is Jeremiah Tower, period. When I was young, I watched him cook with love and passion and I adore his smarts and culinary sensibility. I made a pilgrimage to his restaurant Stars in San Francisco, the year it opened, and I was gobsmacked. Every detail from the restaurant design to the china to the food was done with thought and care. Gorgeous.

Do you have any favorite local restaurants that you’d like to share along with favorite dishes?

My favorite dish is always the one I’m currently eating and I don’t have a favorite restaurant. I do have a particular penchant for Asian food and cookery. I’m always on the hunt for great ethnic cuisine. I also have a serious thing for fine dining.

When did you first realize you wanted food to be integral in your professional life and how did you go about accomplishing that goal?

Actually, food writing came to me. In 1998 was approached by Gambit to write food features. The way that happened is kismet: A relative working in traffic at Gambit, called me to say that they were looking for a food feature writer and asked if I’d ever written anything on food. I lied and said “yes.” That night, I went home, wrote an 850 word article on Vietnamese eggroll, faxed it to the editor and was hired two days later. At the time, I was working as an Intelligence Analyst in Asset Seizure and Forfeiture for the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Unit. Yep, you read that right. Me and Julia Child – both of us started working for the government, then were consumed by food. I am NOT the cook she was, though I aspire to be.

Anyway, I was living a dual life working for IRS and food writing for Gambit. One of the Agents I worked with gave me a shove when he said, “What the f*$% are you doing here?”I thought long and hard about that…I left the IRS, kept writing for Gambit, was then picked up by Emeril to write for his blog, and from there it was crazy. I was hired by the group that produced New Orleans Magazine, etc. to write and be the “food editor.” Then came radio and television opportunities, and next thing I knew, I had a “career.” Weird.


You can find Lorin on Twitter and FaceBook and don’t forget to say hi if you see her at the farmers market!

Hey, NoLA Foodies!

There’s a new foodie website in town called NoLA Eats recently launched by NoLA native Leslie J. Almeida. I discovered it today via Miss Malaprop, a great local website dedicated to Indie design and eco-friendly living.

Apparently Leslie has been hosting monthly NOLA Eats dinners and events in local restaurants for several years. On her About Page you’ll find quite an impressive listing of past dinners in New Orleans and other mouth-watering information.

A dinner is scheduled for this Saturday at La Côte Brasserie. Yum! My Twitter friends and I who lunch frequently at local eateries may have to plan making a gumbo of the two groups one day soon.

Good luck with your new site, Leslie!