If you're like me, you walk into a movie like Eat, Pray, Love with a healthy amount of suspicion. It's about a woman who throws away her perfect life in search of a more perfect one. Exotic locales? Of course. Beautifully shot? Sure. But try to find one character that you'd want to have a sandwich with and you're pretty much out of luck.
Julia Roberts plays the heroine, Elizabeth Gilbert. She has the kind of hair that I covet. It never gets frizzy, even in the tropics. As long as you have hair like that, you need nothing else in your life, except for pictures of the back of your hair, so you can see how perfect that is, too.
But this isn't about Julia Roberts, who I sort of loathe (except for her hair). It's about a food movie getting its food technically wrong. I wanted to scream to the two other people in the theater, "Did you see that? DID YOU SEE THAT?!?"
The egregious scene plays as follows: Julia, aka Elizabeth Gilbert, finally masters ordering an entire meal in Italian. And so, while she orders, the camera cuts away to the various dishes she's ordering as they're plated in the kitchen. I was actually buying into it - beautiful carciofi (artichokes) and melanzane (eggplant) and then, finally, carbonara. And that's when they showed a big plate of spaghetti with red sauce.
Carbonara isn't red sauce. It isn't even cream sauce, as many Americans believe. It's eggs and bacon, brought together harmoniously by a bit of the pasta cooking water, parmesan cheese, a bit of butter and lots of pepper. CARBONARA, not MARINARA. Fools.
With the exception of Big Night, I don't like food movies. I never saw Julie and Julia for fear that they would get something wrong, like showing Julia stirring unbeaten egg whites into a souffle base or slicing beef tenderloin against the grain.
Then I remembered something - no one really eats in Hollywood. They go to restaurants to preen, gloat, or exult, not to eat. They order salads with no dressing, hamburgers with no meat, desserts with no chocolate, butter, or cream. They subsist on lowfat air.
So the next time a food movie arrives at the local theater, I will not be in line, getting tickets. I will be at home, watching Freaks and Geeks on IFC while eating pasta carbonara with extra bacon.