Reverse Shot and New York food magazine Edible Manhattan‘s monthly summer screening series at 92YTribeca, “Eat This Film!,” continues this Wednesday July 14 with a screening of Péter Kerekes’s fascinating and funny documentary Cooking History. This series will highlight a unique selection of timely and timeless international features and documentaries that look at our relationship to food via the moving image. Each screening will be followed by in-depth discussions and Q&As with notable guest speakers. Last month’s sold out screening was of Fast Food Nation, featuring Oscar-nominated director Richard Linklater (Before Sunset, School of Rock) and best-selling author Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation, Reefer Madness). This month, we’ll discuss Cooking History with special guest Betty Fussell, author of the books My Kitchen Wars, Raising Steaks, A Slice of Life, and The Story of Corn.
Viewers of Slovak filmmaker Péter Kerekes’s rather banally titled documentary Cooking History may be pleasantly surprised to find not an orderly history of cooking, moving methodically, dish by dish, from past to present, but rather an attempt to actually cook history via cinematic slicing, dicing, stirring, and simmering. The film’s focus is a very particular nexus of food and history: wartime cooking. A treatise on this subject would seem more the provenance of a lugubrious coffee-table tome or a stuffy television special (Morgan Freeman, forte: “And so Adolf Hitler sat down to prepared schnitzel while the bombs rained around him…”). Kerekes instead pops from one ingenious, self-contained sequence to the next, investigating conflicts and the foods that powered them. What’s revealed through often quite funny interviews, conducted across Europe and in over a half-dozen languages, is a comic, tragic, gastronomic history of the 20th century post–World War II as related by the cooks who fed the soldiers at the front lines. Continue reading.