108 MINUTES | Greek, English, Turkish |
A TOUCH OF SPICE
Films about food are often best approached with the same wariness as the blue-plate special at an unknown greasy spoon. But this one's the genuine mouthwatering article. From its first shot -- a woman's naked breast being sprinkled with sugar before the nipple is offered to an infant's eager lips -- we're immersed in a world where food is a sensual experience. Fanis (George Corraface) is an Athens astrophysicist who returns to his grandfather's Istanbul spice shop where, 35 years earlier, he had his first glimpse of the secrets of life and how they can be interpreted in culinary terms. He learns of the miraculous qualities of cinnamon, for example, as well as the meaning of salt and of pepper and how everything from astronomy to sex can be understood through them. This semiautobiographical first feature by UCLA-trained Tassos Boulmetis handles the tricky subject of Greece and Turkey's tangled political relations over the past few decades with as much delicacy as a master chef artfully de-bones a fish. Viewers in Greece, where it outgrossed even Hollywood blockbusters, made this the most successful film of the year, and it was Greece's Oscar® entry for Best Foreign Language Film. This touching, heartwarming work offers more than a little comic relief as it gives viewers a chance to walk away with a deeper cultural understanding of a key region of the world -- plus a few cooking tips thrown in for good measure.