Cinema's relationship with food and drink has always been a complicated affair. Sometimes it's abusive, as Mae Clark, with her face full of grapefruit, learned from James Cagney in "The Public Enemy." Sometimes it's unrequited, as Tony Shalhoub learned from ungrateful customers in "Big Night." Now and then it amounts to a glorious epiphany, as in "Sideways," when Paul Giamatti rhapsodized to Virginia Madsen about the delicate, even haunting properties of pinot noir. A little bit of food can go a long way in the movies: think of Sue Lyons's lollipop in "Lolita," the chicken salad sandwich in "Five Easy Pieces" or Diane Keaton's pastrami on white with mayo in "Annie Hall." And occasionally food threatens to steal the show, as in "Babette's Feast" and "Like Water for Chocolate." Steve Chagollan reports.
[Free New York Times subscription required to view full article.]