List: Cinema DVD Corner: FOOD related for the TRAVELLER in you

Globe Trotting  with 'FOODIES' 
DVD films: Travel and Food unite

Image: Yuko Shimizu

MISSED the 1st part of this series?...CLICK HERE!

At this time of year...
February doesn't just put chocolate craziness back into my step...
it brings out some of the best 'seat sales' for European destinations.
There are tantalizing prices are out right now.
The only thing left to do would be to pick a great destination. Right?

Well, unfortunately this year, I'll have to pass.
Travelling is a very close second passion of mine.
Planning travel itineraries always gets my adrenaline going...
just as rolling my chocolate truffles in the next coating does.
Strange analogy...well, not really.
In my spirit, it's not strange at all.
They both put a very warm smile through my soul.

Without having the possibility of travelling...
you may miss out on experiencing scenes like this:
With that said...I figured, this time, I'll have to live
vicariously through some food related travel DVD films.

Here are some selections which I will try to get my hands on sooner than later.
OHH...all I need is more enticement to want to keep travelling.
Even in today's economic upheavel...
through these passionate hosts, you too,
can travel to these great global 'Foodie' spots.

Cooking French:
The Cuisine of Paris and Northern France

[2007] Running Time: 125 mins
* General Review Rating... 4 /5

Summary:  In this series the stars of French cuisine teach you how to prepare their signature dishes and regional specialties against a background of stunning vistas, folklore, and tradition. Each DVD contains instructions for preparing over twenty different classic French dishes and desserts. -- Amazon.com
Viewers had their say:
. The quality of the recording and production is very good. The show has a tour-like quality and shows important sites and monuments in France and briefly mentions the history behind them. The chefs are obviously quite skilled. The main complaint I had was the number of errors the narrator makes. This woman clearly is not a cook. She frequently identifies ingredients incorrectly. If you are watching the film you see her repeatedly confuse chives and shallots, call "slicing" "chopping", etc. In one case, she points out the chef is adding onions and ginger to the pan, then next says he's adding garlic when it is clearly lemongrass that is being added. Major steps are missing in the baking recipes. It is rather annoying. You can not learn much about cooking from this film. It is much better as a tourist show.  Still, it's fun to watch if that is what you are looking for. --Kalyson

Cooking Italian, Vol. 2:
The Cuisine of Southern Italy and the Islands

[2007] Running Time: 120 mins

* General Review Rating... 3.5 /5

Summary: Italy is considered one of the culinary capitals of the world. Each of its great cities exhibits its own culinary identity and its own exciting and colorful cuisine. In this program, we travel through the great cities of Italy, experiencing their culture, history, and pageantry while under the guidance of Italy's most famous chefs. We learn how to prepare the regional cuisine that has made the Italian kitchen so justly famous. In Volume 2, we journey south from Perugia to Lazio and then to Rome as we learn to prepare some of Italy's most famous dishes: focaccia, risotto, spaghetti carbonara, and saltinbocca. Our journey south continues to Naples--the birthplace of pizza--then on to the Amalfi coast, ending with the incomparable cuisine of Sicily.
Each DVD contains instructions for preparing over twenty classic Italian dishes, as well as a printable recipe book. Buon appetito! -- Amazon.com

Flavors of Italy:
Northern Italy and Tuscany

[2005] Running Time: 144 mins
* General Review Rating... 3.5 /5

Summary: Italy is considered one of the culinary capitals of the world. Each of its great cities exhibits its own culinary identity, and its own exciting and colorful cuisine. In this program, we travel through the great cities of northern Italy and Tuscany, experiencing the local history and pageantry. Under the guidance of Italy’s most famous chefs, we learn to prepare the cuisine that has made the Italian kitchen justly famous. The splendor of Italy and the wonders of its kitchen await us. Buon appetito! --Amazon.com
Viewers had their say:
.The scenery was magnificent. I did not like the female narrator. She did not pronounce the Italian correctly and that annoyed me. Overall, I loved seeing different Northern Italian cities.--A Schneider
. The narrating for each area was OK, but could've been more in depth. The focus is definitely on food, but instead of giving the viewer an all-around feel for the local cuisine, this DVD concentrates only on a few recipes from local restaurants, which you cannot replicate, because most of the ingredients are hard to find in the US.
The quality is very low, blurry, and the composition is almost amateur-like. It looks a bit outdated, the music is the same old, lousy Italian stereo-typical mandolin that plays throughout the documentary.
OK, fine, the price is what it is so you can't expect a Ken Burns film shoot, but I just think this product doesn't do my country justice!! I would suggest to save your money and watch better shows on the Travel Channel or the Food Network. -- N. Vergili

...from the Travel Channel ... 

[2009] Running Time: 420 mins (2 discs?)
* General Review Rating... 3.5 /5

Summary:  Feast on the most delectable culinary delights America has to offer in Food Paradise. This mouth-watering travel show explores the best beef, the most divine in deep fried, the upper crust in pizza society and so much more. And Food Paradise offers not only the best, but the bizarre: Learn where to find deep-fried soda, barbecued spaghetti and bacon-maple doughnuts in this show that will prove to be a delicious addiction! ---Amazon.com 
Viewers had their say:
We spent a bitter cold News Years Eve & day watching these. It was extremely interesting and most entertaining, although it often made us hungry! The only negative thing I noticed was that it was a bit polarized. Most of what was reviewed was on the East or West coast or the Gulf states. They visited Chicago for pizza, which was a must, and Tennessee & the Carolina's for Barbecue. 
If you are interested in the diversity of the US and it's different cuisines, you will love this video. No gross food here. All in all it was a great buy, especially for a foodie.---G.A. Gates

Anthony Bourdain:
No Reservations - Collection 1

...from the Travel- Discovery Channel ...

[2007] Running Time: 342 mins [4 Discs]
* General Review Rating... 4 /5

SummaryBest selling author, culinary adventurer and self-proclaimed hedonist, Anthony Bourdain has carved out a distinct place as a gastronomic Indiana Jones. In this series --Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations -- his journey introduces viewers to people and places far beyond the realm of food. This 4-disc set Includes the the following episodes: "Paris & New Jersey," "Sicily & Las Vegas," "New Zealand and Malaysia" and "Iceland & Vietnam." --Amazon.com
Viewers had their say:
I have watched "No Reservations" since it premiered on the Travel Channel. I have also read all of Bourdain's nonfiction books, and I recommend both this series and his books to anyone serious about different cultures and the foods they eat.
It is no surprise, then, that overall I give the material on this DVD set five stars, but have to take away a star for a couple of reasons. The first and most obvious problem with this set is that it isn't complete, as has been noted by others. It would certainly have been better (even if it was somewhat pricier) if it was complete; likewise some extras (outtakes, commentary, etc.) would have been a welcome, though not strictly necessary, addition. I do have a cautionary tale about my set specifically: mine came without the Iceland and Vietnam DVD, which happen to be, in my opinion, the best two shows of the series. In its place I got an additional copy of the Sicily and Las Vegas DVD, which is the weakest of the four discs in my opinion. Fortunately I had bought the Vietnam and Iceland episodes as separate (and much more expensive) single show DVD's, but it is an annoyance nonetheless.
Without question this is my favorite travel show. I think Bourdain better than other hosts goes out of his way to unearth the fundamental nature of the places he visits (most notably in the excellent Malaysia episode) and truly values and respects the people he meets, despite his acerbic and sarcastic nature. While there are views where we differ, I know that Tony Bourdain and the "No Reservations" staff are fundamentally straight shooters who excel off the beaten path of cuisine and culture. While there are things I would obviously change about this set, it is an excellent value, and any reservations I have are in no way related to the actual content of these four DVD's. I truly recommend this set with no reservations. -- R. Hedges

Anthony Bourdain
No Reservations - Collection 2

...from the Discovery Travel Channel ...

[2008] Running Time: 550 mins [3 Discs]
* General Review Rating... 4.5 /5

Summary: Uncover culinary treasures with best-selling author and self-proclaimed hedonist Anthony Bourdain, the Indiana Jones of world cuisine. Join the adventure with Bourdain as he journeys around the globe to introduce viewers to people and places far beyond the realm of food in this complete collection of episodes from Season Two. --Amazon.com
Viewers had their say:
Collection 2 is an inspiring and informative series of episodes that goes beyond the usual formula "food culture" shows. I think it is genuinely transcendent. Bourdain's personality adds much to this adventure. The series' blending of social and culinary culture with Tony Bourdain's characteristic outlook makes this fantastic entertainment worth purchase.
Bourdain's Asian adventures (India -two great episodes - and Korea) were so good it took me several minutes to come back to reality. These segments stayed with me for days. I craved Indian and Korean food for weeks. They mix culture and food culture into the best shows I've seen yet.
A big surprise was the Northwest segment. I clicked it thinking "The Northwest . . . I should just get this out of the way." I was so impressed that I want to move to Portland! This was such a great treat. The segment on Beirut brought tears to my eyes. This series facilitated the realization that food is so much more than the kitchy shows you watch about which olive oil to use or what the "cuisine" of Tuscany is like. It demonstrates how fundamental food is to our lives, our family, and who we are as a culture.
No Reservations Collection 2 is even better than the first season - which was very good. I recommend it enthusiastically. It makes me hungry for travel and food, and touched my heart with every segment! -- A Krikorian

Anthony Bourdain:
No Reservations - Collection 3

...from the Discovery Travel Channel ...

[2009] Running Time: 540 mins [3 Discs]
* General Review Rating... 4.5 /5

Viewers had their say:
I've been a pretty big fan of Bourdain's food-centric travelogues since Food Network debuted the A Cook's Tour show and the accompanying book (A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines). From his auto-bio/expose on the restaurant business Kitchen Confidential Updated Ed: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.), to his unrestricted palette of taste, through to his no nonsense style of writing food inspired crime fiction, Bourdain has cut an interesting niche in the foodie world. With No Reservations, he's left behind the insanity of the Food Network and taken his travels in search of good food and culture to the Travel Channel.
What I find interesting about this new show is the balance he's seemingly struck between his own tendencies and the requirements of filming a network driven travel show. On A Cook's tour it came across as butting heads with the network and producers resulting in a lackluster second season filled with excursions to ridiculous destinations like the Mall of America, content that felt forced and sad. No Reservations, though occasionally still succumbing to these depths, frees Bourdain up to getting to the heart of the matter which is examining true local culture and the food that sustains and elevates it. It combines the point of view of a 70s punk rebel with a soul searching existentialist, while also ditching most of the pretension and being generally entertaining TV which is pretty darn rare.
If you're looking for the insanity of A Cook's Tour (the swallowing of still beating cobra hearts, etc.) than you might be a bit disappointed, but if the first thought when entering a new city or country is locating a good genuine meal that speaks to the local culture than this is the show for you. It's not a how-to for finding the tourist traps of the world, but a how to avoid these and eat like a local. Highlights from this set include French Polynesia, Russia, and surprisingly Los Angeles. --S.M. Robare

Anthony Bourdain:
No Reservations - Collection Four
...from the Discovery Travel Channel ...

[2009] Running Time: 698 mins [3 Discs]
* General Review Rating... 4.5 /5

Summary: Anthony Bourdain, the intrepid TV host, culinary adventurer and self-proclaimed hedonist, uncovers a fascinating side of countries that many tourists never see. By sharing meals with local families, participating in their celebrations and indulging in their sometimes unusual pastimes, Tony experiences different lifestyles and locales at their most vibrantly authentic. If you want to get a taste of the beauty, magic and quirky delights found off the overly traveled tourist path, take a trip with Anthony Bourdain! --Amazon.com
Viewers had their say:
Bourdain isn't slowing down much; his latest shows are still some of the best travel/food tv out there. He remains one of the sharpest observers in that genre, and isn't afraid to raise a hackle or three. He does seem to be getting a bit caught up in his own legend, so it's good to see him cooking at his old haunt Les Halles---more in that vein would be nice, as it's entertaining to see him working in the kitchen instead of just oohing and aahing at others doing the same. The Jamaica, Colombia and Egypt epsiodes are also stand-outs of those featured here; Tony seems at his best when most out of his element.
I'd really like to see a show where all of the tv food guys have to cook for each other and every one was honest about what they ate. I wonder where Bourdain would rank?
His enthusiasm for the rituals around food and the people making it are usually the best thing about this show, in any case; his genius is more in his friendly irascibility and dry directness than culinary expertise. And mothers must love this guy: he always eats all the liver on his plate...and whatever other entrails cross his path. But nothing here beats him eating the roasted anus in Season 2.
Let's face it: Bourdain will only fulfill his destiny once he has done a show with a tribe of Amazonian cannibals (the jungle's, not the ones on this site). He'll take a big chunk out of somebody's thigh and say, "It's a tough piece of meat, but with enough seasoning and giblet gravy" he says, looking straight at the camera, "it's actually pretty [bleeep!] tasty." And you'll believe him. --K. Swanson

Planet Food:

Italy - Tuscany & Emilia Romagna
...from the Discovery Travel Channel ...

[2009] Running Time: 55 mins
* General Review Rating... N/A

Summary:  The producers of Globe Trekker take you on a culinary journey exploring the world's most delicious destinations with the Planet Food series. Planet Food Italy: Tuscany & Emilia Romagna featuring Tyler Florence explores the gastronomic delights of Italy's Tuscany & Emilia Romagna regions. From Bologna to Montalcino and Grosseto, Tyler discovers the secrets to authentic Italian cooking and learns to make traditional dishes such as braised rabbit. His journey takes him to the annual butcher's festival in Florence, the chestnut festival in Bologna and to the olive groves to help pick and press the year's olives.


Mystery of the Senses
...brought to you from the NOVA series

... Running time: 56 mins.
* General Review Rating... 3.5 /5

Summary: Join famed sensory epicure Diane Ackerman in discovering the variety of cuisine available around the world. Nova Video Library: Mystery of the Sense - Taste begins its journey with a delectable feast of lobster in a restaurant in France. Next up is an elaborate meal served in Mexico called the day of the dead and finally a quick stop at a street food stand in downtown Manhattan. We learn about the four main tastes -- sweet, sour, salty and bitter -- and how we have developed and maintained them as an inherited trait for hundreds thousands of years. ~ Laura Mahnken, All Movie Guide
Viewers had their say:
Our taste buds only have four receptors: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty (maybe?) Some people have many taste receptors; others have few, but the work doesn't say this is related to weight in any way. The etymology for "companion" is "for whom one eats bread." I love learning new stuff.
This work was very girly. The narrator is a woman who hosts a chi-chi, Manhattan-based dinner party and spends too much camera time ordering chocolate. All of the taste researchers shown were women. The narrator spoke with a soft, vampy voice that would have shamed Martha Stewart. This work could have focused on fat, male, football fans or guys that frequent all-you-can-eat buffets. In striking contrast, it takes a very feminine route.
The work is also very Latin. It touches on Asia (and shamefully never mentions Africa or the Black Diaspora), but focuses on Latin America as a comparative note to the West. The camera and narrator focus on an indigenous Mexican woman's cooking and never once comment that she lived in a shack and had a dirt floor. They discuss how Columbus raved about chili peppers. It brings the feminine and Latin aspects together by speaking of how Cortez failed to learn how Native women enhanced the niacin in tortillas. I appreciated this multi-culti twist.
Miscellanea. It talks of how smell and taste work together, but I wish it had included sight. They show a woman (with a cleft chin) enjoying a grape lollipop but not knowing it's grape. Some food makers add purple coloring to grape-flavored food because people wouldn't believe it has grape in it otherwise. The work focuses on children's taste buds, but says nothing of the elderly, who may lose taste sensations. It mentions fugu, but says nothing of Homer Simpsons' bad experience with the dish. The narrator raves, "We have so many food options now!" However, this may play a role in the obesity epidemic that the US faces and other nations may face soon. One researcher asks children what they think of pizza ingredients and it ends up being a product placement for Sbarro. There is a fascinating Brit named Nicholas Lander interviewed here. He wears those cool John Lennon specs. Most importantly, he has the world's deepest chin dimple. He could put Joe Namath, Steven Pemberton, and Henry Rollins to shame. Mother Nature must have used her biggest ax when she chopped his chin dimple into place! What Dolly Parton is to a certain body part, he is to cleft chins. --J. Mingo

Well, for now...
this is the end of the road.
Tune in for updates as more...
Food Documentaries are reviewed.
If I've missed a movie you've seen...
and it received very good ratings...
please do not hesitate to share it with us.
Help me keep this list as updated as possible...greatly appreciated.
Has any one of these films piqued your curiosity?
Is it enough to make your 'MUST SEE' list?

Flavourful wishes and happy viewing,

Comments or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

!!! Very Important notice was mentioned on the Master CATEGORY page...
please note of the disclosure statements! Click here to Read about it!