Category Archives: Blog entry 2

Domain entry 2. Famiglia (Koby Junyoung Han, CHN 190)

Both Big Night (Directed by Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci) and Eat Drink Man Woman (Directed by Ang Lee) were filmed, produced and released to the cinema in 1990s. One certain thing is that ideologies, trends and zeitgeist of then and now are significantly different. Yet, through perspective of an ordinary college student living the 2016, there were so much I could relate to and comprehend from the movies academically, Blackboard assignment-wise and personally.

The 3 approaches were clearly depicted in both the movies, somewhat similarly and differently. Of course these approaches are all focused on and built around food. I will begin the explanation on the movie Big Night first.

The functions of food in Big Night, in summary, were pride, morality and survivability. At the beginning of the movie, there was a conflict between Primo (elder brother, chef) and a customer. The customer wanted a plain spaghetti with meatballs, while Primo refused to serve spaghetti because she was already eating a risotto and he believed starch should not be over-consumed. This depicts the pride of food. Primo wanted to serve the authentic Italian food, not ‘Americanized’ Italian food. Throughout the movie, conflict arises between Primo and Secondo (younger brother) on the choice and modification of Italian food to the customers. Food meant morality to these Italian brothers. Primo despised Pascal, a friend of Secondo who owned a successful Italian restaurant, because Pascal ‘Americanized’ Italian cuisine (spaghetti with meatballs, performance-like food serving, live music performance). Secondo too, was initially hesitant to seek help from Pascal (telling Pascal to keep their meeting secret from Primo). The brothers wanted to run their restaurant without getting help from anyone and selling honest food. After all, the brothers had to making a living through their restaurant. They left their home and family in Italy to settle down in US. Their food had to generate money and profits for them to secure their accommodation in the states.

Food in the second movie carried different functions. For Master Chu, food was the means to be united with his 3 daughters and neighbors. Master Chu used to be a chef in a grand hotel restaurant; food brought bread on his family’s table. Despite the continuous family, personal dispute, it was ultimately food that brought every family members back to the table. The idea of family, however sadly, had to be defined, maintained and reinforced through food.

The 3 functions of food in Big Night are even more elaborated from perspective of structuralist approach. Primo’s resistance against changes in his cooking style not only represented his pride and morality as an Italian cuisine chef but also the time, effort and sacrifice he had to put in studying culinary back in Italy. Failure to save their business on that ‘special night’ would have led to closing of restaurant and either working for their uncle in Rome or for Pascal, whom which Pedro would have to subdue his morality to do so.

Food had greater meanings for Master Chu. Besides the functions listed earlier, Master Chu himself was the food. He was the chef who cooked for his career and it was also him who desperately used cookings to hold of his family. Despite the struggles his daughters and himself had to go through, food was essentially the key that glued the fractures back. Weekly Sunday dinner with family may seem mundane for Master Chu and his daughters but as soon as the cycle was broken, the impact was substantial. Moreover, it was cooking that eventually brought Jin Rong, neighbor next door, to Master Chu. He regularly cooked bento for her daughter, Shan Shan, and developed feelings for her. For the second movie, food had a greater range of meanings for all the characters.

Primo and Secondo continued to change themselves throughout the movie. Food was their pride, morality and means of survivability initially. As Secondo prepared breakfast after the ‘big night’, he left a portion for his brother who was not present in the kitchen. Before that, both engaged in a fight by the beach. When Primo entered the kitchen, Secondo quietly passed some fried egg to him, which Primo accepted and begun to eat casually. Food, ultimately, got these Italian brothers through ups and downs. It affected and changed their lives constantly and substantially. The developmental approach was so apparent in this movie. Life continues to change and move forward and food was the engine for these brothers.

Cooking was his career. His deteriorating sense of taste did not stop him from cooking. Master Chu used to cook for his living before but now he cooks for his family. The audience is entirely different. The purpose in cooking completely changed hence the developmental approach was clearly evident in this movie too.

Domain Entry #2

Functionalism is when each part has role to play in making sure the machine works well. Structuralism claims to look below these surface linkages into the deep structures, which are alleged to underpin them. The developmental approach is when you have a chance to continue and develop that category of its’ features. In the movie “Eat, Drink, Men, Women” we were able to see some of the background of Taipei. Master Chu has three daughters: Jia Jen, Jia Chien, and Jia Ning. But has lost his wife. Jia Jen is a chemistry teacher converted to Christianity, Jia Chien is an airline executive and Jia Ning is a student who works in a fast food restaurant, Wendy’s. Master Chu is an owner of a big restaurant in Taipei. Because he is such a good cook when he makes a lunch for the young girl name Chan-Chan, all the young students asked Chen-Chen to also to ask the master Chu to make their lunch. But he can’t taste food so Uncle Wen tastes the food instead of him. We can see that Master Chu is a functionalist. He makes a very delicious looking food every time he makes the food. He actually kills the animal by himself to make the food, does the entire cutting and make food. He uses all different kind of food throughout each hard process to make one food. Once he starts to make food, he makes it for family to eat as full as they can, so all the time half of the food is thrown out to trash. In the other movie “The night” Chef Primo wants to serve authentic Italian food to American customers, so Primo also take a lot of time to make one meal for the customers.

We can see also structuralism in the movie “Eat, Drink, Men, Women”, Master Chu tries to communicate with food. Master Chu has a big ritual of an elaborate dinner every Sunday. And we can see how much loving and hard working process he uses to make the dinner. We see how in Taipei, family have to meet with other family members to eat dinner, talk about what has happened, help each other out when bad things happen, and help them keep close to each other. It really makes the family socialize with each other. And in the social aspect of structualist in the move “Big Night” we can see how Pascal only cares about the money (customer’s need) when looking at food and we can see how Prim looks at the food as chef’s need which is making the food as how chef’s want to make.

As we saw in the movie we can see the tradition of the spaghetti and Chinese foods, they have been really developed then back in the 1900s. There are many different kinds of American spaghetti houses, many different kinds of spaghetti and there are many different kinds of fast food restaurants other then very traditional restaurant, which takes a lot of time to make food. Fast food chain restaurants take way less time to make food then the very traditional restaurant and people these days don’t really have time to eat while they are working or studying. In the movie “Eat, Drink, Men, Women”, the youngest daughter, Jia ning was already working at a fast food chain restaurant. These days, as people developed, we mostly only care about how fast the food comes out and just how we can fill up the stomach is less money.restaurant1downloadHuang-Ting-restaurant-Interior03

Movies and marinara

Every kitchen in the working world is a combination of all the approaches- Functional, Developmental, and and Structuralist. The movies have them based through their stories. Their family lives, interpersonal relationships, and yes- approach to cooking meets these different criteria. Through Eat, Drink, Man, Woman. The structure of cooking is very much refined. It is combination of a exact science and art. Mr. Chu’s style would most likely be functional and structuralist. His whole discussion on the phone about not using any salt because it would take away the  tenderness of the fish that was to be cooked. He is rigid in most aspects of his life. All while his family works out their own issues and the kinks in their own relationships with one another. The food looked so good I ordered some (very unauthentic) Chinese food to accompany my viewing for the next film “big night”. Any kind of traditional approach to cooking would innately require a structuralist approach to really capture the essence of the food cooked. You can do it to the pique of perfection like Mr. Chu does, or it can be an art to innovate upon. Mr. Chu builds and builds all across a foundation of strict rules and technique to develop his flavorful representation of his food. In Big Night we see food become almost a holy experience. Cooking this food isn’t only a matter of how good it is, but it shows all the culture, effort, and will that it’s creators placed in it. Big night focuses on the two brothers who had recently immigrated over to the united states for chances of opportunity and success. Their menu has classic Italian recipes that their unsuspecting American audiences are not ready for. One of the main problems in the film is assimilation into the culture now surrounding them, which they beat back with their family traditions and bold moves so astound their guests. Their styles are a lot more loose and fast, as menu items come and go through the film, as well as special additions get made the day of. Still holding this developmental approach to cooking they also carry with them carrying this functional approach to and from their audience and guests whom they serve.     The movies were great and so was the Lo Mein I ordered while watching it. Until Next time, Brook

From Taiwan to America to Italy: The Role Dinner Can Play in a Society, and What It Can Reveal. By Ryann Khalil, CHN/ITAL190

Oftentimes, a society’s specific food preparation and consumption patterns help accomplish a goal or function, of that society. An example of this can be found in the movie Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, which is set in 1990’s Taiwan. Traditionally, Taiwanese society has placed great importance on family unity, with three or more generations often living in the same house; however, despite living under the same roof, the father and the three sisters in the movie lead very separate lives. During the week, the members of the family are caught up in their professional/romantic lives and hardly interact with one another. One night a week, however, the father spends the whole day preparing a traditional family dinner. The dinner is often the only time when every member is in the same place, and plays an important role in maintaining the unity of the family. One especially significant aspect of the dinner is the way the plates of food are organized and served. Unlike in many American dinner tables, where each person is served an individual plate containing a full meal, each family member at the dinner starts out with a small bowl with chopsticks. The dishes of the meal are placed in large, communal plates in the middle of the table, and are shared by the whole family. Instead of eating off of individual plates, members of the family eat off of a large, central “plate” which they share, and members often hand items, such as dumplings, directly to each other. The communal nature of the Taiwanese dinner forces the family members to interact with each other, which, in turn, helps reinforce their unity every week. The manner in which food is served can also indicate a certain characteristic, or “structure” of a society. This can be seen in the contrast between the family dinner in Eat, Drink, Man, Woman and Pascal’s restaurant in the movie Big Night, which is set in 1960’s America. Despite being nominally Italian, the food served at Pascal’s restaurant is designed to appeal to mainstream American consumers; for this reason, it can serve as a good example of American food in the 1960’s. Unlike in the traditional Taiwanese dinner, each diner at Pascal’s restaurant is served an individual plate containing his or her food. While the people eat “together” in Taiwan, each person eats “independently” in America. The different consumption patterns can be used to show the different characteristics of each society.  Taiwanese society emphasizes the unity of the family; accordingly, family members eat directly out of the same, communal dishes. American society, on the other hand, emphasizes the independence of the individual; accordingly, each person consumes their own, separate dish on their own, independent plate. In this way, the layout of the food in each table reflects the “structure” of its respective society. Despite the name, “Italian”-American cuisine is very different from the authentic Italian cuisine served at the brothers’ restaurant in the movie Big Night. Studying the origins and transformation of Italian-American cuisine will allow us to better understand certain aspects of American society, as well how dishes themselves came to be. In the beginning of the movie, Primo makes risotto, an authentic Italian dish that requires a long, laborious preparation. The customer, however, is not satisfied, as the risotto was very different from the “Italian”-American food she was used to. She then asks for Spaghetti and Meatballs, an Americanized dish that is usually prepared hastily with dried pasta, canned tomato sauce, and frozen meatballs. Later in the movie, the brothers make Italian pasta, which, similar to the risotto, is prepared laboriously with fresh ingredients. Despite their differences, Spaghetti and Meatballs and the Italian pasta do share enough some similarities, such as the use of tomato sauce, to the point that it is plausible that they have common origins. What caused Spaghetti and Meatballs to diverge like this? Perhaps it’s the differing cultural attitudes towards food in Italy and America. In Italy, meals are an important part of daily life. People spend much of their day cooking, and many workers even have a midday break so they can go home for lunch. In American society, on the other hand, meals are seen simply as a distraction from daily life, like going to the bathroom. Because of this attitude, dishes that take less time and labor are often favored. Perhaps Americans liked the Italian pasta, but began to use dried pasta and canned tomato sauce when they prepared it at home in order to save time. Italian pasta is often served with meat, and meatballs could have been introduced to avoid having to prepare another dish alongside the pasta. Spaghetti and Meatballs developed as a dish of convenience, to allow Americans to enjoy a version of the Italian dish without sacrificing the time.    

Comparison of “Big Night” and “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” Jimmy Townsend ITAL-190

"Big Night"
“Big Night”
"Eat, Drink, Man, Woman"
“Eat, Drink, Man, Woman”
          Looking at the two images above, the first from the film “Big Night” and the second from “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman”, you can see the difference in the major theme of each movie, the prior about conflict and the latter about communion. Contrarily, they both illustrate how the lives of all the characters revolve around food. Both films display aspects of structuralist, functionalist and developmental analyses of food systems. First, “Big Night” and “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” both illustrate the importance of a structural analysis of food systems. “Big Night” illustrates how certain food and social structures associated with food remain the same overtime. The fact that Primo and Secondo try to spread the true Italian culture of food to America illustrates the importance of the origins of cultural connections. Additionally, “Big Night” illustrates how there are two different types of food systems, illustrated through the Paradise restaurant and Pascal’s, where one is aimed at the real culture, whereas the other is aimed towards money. The structural viewpoint is greatly depicted in “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” as the family comes together every week for one meal that was worked on very diligently. This meal illustrates the deep, familial and non-replaceable structure of eating around the dinner table. There are many layers to this meal, the actual food, the familial connections, and the emotional aspects. The developmental form of analysis is displayed by “Big Night” through how the past always affects the future in terms of food, and social, systems. The two brothers bring their matured food culture to a place that, at first, does not appreciate it, but eventually the past influences the future. In addition, the developmental analysis comes into play through the role of society on food systems, especially in restaurants. The movie illustrates that, no matter what you serve, criticism will occur and the main goal of restaurants, mostly, boils down to their relationship with their society. The film “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” depicts the developmental approach to analyzing food systems through the adjustments between the old and new Chinese food sources. The film shows both sides to food in modern society: the new and fast food versus the old and developed food that the family eats at the dinner table. This is exemplified through the school lunch that Chef Chu gives to his child for school. The contradiction between that school lunch versus what other children eat illustrates and visualizes the developmental interpretation.  
Modern food pyramid
Modern food pyramid
Food pyramid from the 1960's
Food pyramid from the 1960’s
The final form of analysis is the functional analysis, which is depicted in “Big Night”, where the Primo illustrates how each food group plays a certain societal and biological function on both the palette and on the body. Primo illustrates how each component of a dish plays a certain role to enhance the entire dish. In addition, Primo portrays food as a way to play on emotion and how food systems depend on emotion. Finally, “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” portrays the functional form of analysis through the food in Chef Chu’s restaurant. Each dish in the restaurant serves a different purpose, but all the dishes together form a coherent and strong restaurant. Chef Chu’s loss of taste contributes to this greatly as well as it denotes a certain ‘functionality’ of each dish. Overall, both films contribute different components to the three different forms of analysis. Though both movies have different overall tones and themes, they both share the commonality of food bringing people together, from past to present.

D2: Approaches to Food in Film by Claire Mahon CHN190

Functionalists look at a system like an animal, made up of smaller systems that come together to create a cohesive whole. Functionalists focus attention on each detail and each step of the process. Master Chef Lu of “Eat Drink Man Woman” understands a dish by knowing how to make it. He picks fresh ingredients and prefers to kill the animals himself. He oversees the entire creation of each complex dish into beautifully ordered works of art. He never makes just one dish, instead creates multi course meals that complement each other. Even for the young girl’s lunches, he makes four small dishes that impress the entire grade school class. Similarly, Primo of “Big Night” insists that dishes go together. He creates a seafood risotto using a long and careful recipe and expensive ingredients. When a customer asks for a side of spaghetti and meatballs, Primo is angry because he believes it is wrong to eat two starches together.
Structuralists look at the underlying links and symbols of a system. They think of food as a language used to communicate ideas. Chef and father Lu works at a top restaurant during the week and creates a huge meal for his daughters each Sunday, which acts as a backdrop for the family discussing personal matters. He prepares many Chinese cultural super-foods such as noodles and dumplings as well as body image foods to keep his family healthy. As the father feeds his daughters traditional Chinese dishes, he reminds his daughters of his traditional values. His restaurant staff, mostly older Chinese men, discuss his daughters and how Jia-Ning needs to get married. Meanwhile, Jia-Ning works at Wendy’s, symbolizing modernity, and gets pregnant from her boyfriend. Gender is also important in the kitchen. While Lu was happy to teach his daughter Jia-Chen how to cook, he pushed into another occupation, working for an airline. His friends at the restaurant scoffed at the idea of a female chef, and he thought it would be better for her to pursue a modern job.
Developmentalists look at a system in context, giving attention to the past and explaining why traditions exist. They also look for connections between cultures and examples of menu pluralism, where different approaches to food are mixed together. Paradise, the restaurant opened by Primo and Secondo, serves classic Italian food to a somewhat upscale American neighborhood. In classic American fashion, customers are disappointed with the food and ask for staple dishes from Americanized Italian chains. The restaurant owner that Secondo talks to tells him to just serve the Americans what they want to make money, but Primo refuses to give up making his high quality food in lieu of hot dogs. Developmentalist sociologists sort food into categories of how they are used. In “Eat Drink Man Woman,” Jia-Ning works at Wendy’s where she prepares convenience and hedonistic food, that is, meals that are fast and taste good if not healthy or tied to cultural traditions. She leaves work to go to her father’s house, where she eats purely traditional Chinese food.

Stubborn Cooks: A Perspective on Two Films (Angela Jiang, CHN 190)

“The self-educated are marked by stubborn peculiarities.”

—Isaac D’Israeli


Is stubbornness justified when it brilliant people use it to defend their craft? In this case, I speak of two masterchefs in two films: Tucci and Scott’s “The Big Night” and Ang Lee’s “Eat, Drink, Man Woman”. 

Both chefs struggle with quite profound personal problems: Primo in “Night” has the classic woes of a newfound immigrant in America with a garnishing of a extended feud with his businessman brother, both with vastly different views of running their Italian restaurant; Master Chu in “Eat Drink” struggles with the empty nest syndrome as his three daughters eventually fall in love and leave his house, on top of losing his sense of taste and a side affair with a woman that’s the age of one of his daughters.

Although Primo and Chu hold cooking abilities far above average than that of the typical human, they face very human personal struggles. Along with their personal circles, they have the same social construct as the rest of us when we face personal crises:

Egg Yolk

This is a representation of what happens when someone has personal struggles: they’re kind of stuck in their own world of problems, because no matter how many personal therapists you hire, you are always ultimately on your own to deal with your own problems. 

In your life, this is the functionalist view of personal problems: functionalists simply seek out what the struggles are in your life, and analyze how these struggles affect your life in your own little personal microcosm. Rarely does it go beyond that, because your struggles each function as a part of a total bodily function that determines your character, decisions, and essence as a person.

Chefs Chu and Primo are stuck in their traditionalist, functionalist set views of how cooking should be: Chu sees it as a craft that is exclusive only to men (which strains his relationship with his 2nd daughter, causing a personal struggle there) whereas Primo cannot get out of the artisan chef mentality to compromise with his brother to prepare Italian food that can appeal to the typical American palate (which causes significant financial problems for the two).

However, our personal problems are rarely isolated in such a neat manner. Our friends, family, frenemies, acquaintances, exes, lovers, …our personal circle helps us endeavor through these issues. Sometimes they exacerbate them. Oftentimes they are the causes of our problems:

Social Circle

Nonetheless, our personal circle provides many deeper layers to our personal problems. It’s really because of them that humans are such complex creatures. No problem is sincerely single-faceted to only be caused by our own character flaws. It’s the presence of others which highlight these character flaws and lead us to stumble.

Chefs Chu and Primo could be stuck in their own little microcosms of brilliant cooking, yet their personal circles take away from that. They are seen outside of the kitchen as purely normal, even slightly backward members of society because of their social circles. It is only with their personal circles when they can be critiqued for their cooking techniques and can grow as chefs.

This deeper of the human truth is seeked out by the structuralists in their sociological perspective because we go beyond analyzing the chefs’ personal problems to the deeper mechanisms of society which cause those issues.

Social Egg

These two layers of the sociological perspectives form what I call the “Struggle Egg”. The functionalists can only analyze where the bulk of the nutrition lies: the egg yolk, which holds the small microcosm of one person’s struggles. Yet the structuralist can analyze the entire egg and can see how the white (social circle that surrounds the yolk) interacts with and ultimately nurtures the center yolk.

But there’s a step beyond this… the developmentalist views.

Remember, the premise of the developmentalist is to analyze the changes of a sociological subject over time, and to see which conflicts affect that subject. So the developmentalist is able to see the “big picture” of the struggle of the chefs, and can maybe see that this ‘struggle egg’ is cooking in a pan, where the fire is the catalyst of change which helps the central character get over/learn from/move on from personal struggles:

Uncooked Social Egg

And then maybe they can see that this egg will eventually be cooked to a simple, newly changed form of the egg, sunny-side up:

Cooked Social Egg

But whereas this egg has barely changed except in its chemical composition (if you want to think about it literally, we humans are constantly changing in chemical composition because we’re getting older constantly), sometimes after dealing with a multitude of personal struggles, we change completely as a result:

Scrambled Eggs

So in this case, the ‘struggle egg’ has been scrambled into an entirely different form of an egg, symbolizing the entirety of change in the person’s character. And just as diverse as egg recipes are (this could’ve been an omelette, poached eggs, hard boiled, etc.), like so we can change and mold into very different types of people after we witness personal struggles.

 

Domain 2

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Roger Ebert says in his review of Big Night, “It is about food not as a subject but as a language–the language by which one can speak to gods, can create, can seduce, can aspire to perfection.”

Every storyteller knows the value of food. Look into any book or movie and soon you will find a diner scene, or a dinner table scene, or just the mere presence of food, without fail. This is because we all make associations based on food and how people eat together.

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

Pascal’s advice reflects the sentiments of Developmentalism, describing customers as working men who want to recognize their plate. This pragmatism reflects the industrialized society which finds less and less time for elaborate dishes and instead shifts towards fast food and convenience.
The opening scene of Eat Drink Man Woman shows a chef making a meal, from live fish to completed dish. In a way this focus on creation gives great importance to the chef aspect of a functionalist society. In a way chef is the most distinguished role in many cultures. This format of opening a movie reminded me of Creation Story trope, in which a tale begins with imagery of creation. Even unconsciously I believe the audience associates the chef with a god-like figure during this instance. It certainly utilizes the simplicity and magic of a master chef within the closed-off stronghold of the kitchen, single-mindedly transmutating a trout into delicious food. This transformation ‘from clay into man’ also reminds us of the culinary triangle promoted by Structuralists.
The disagreement the chef receives from his customers reveals a harmful impact of food as language: people have different languages. Like being thrust into an alien culture, some customers feel uncomfortable with food they do not understand. The way the chef is forced to adapt his restaurant is a lot like how immigrants to the US must assimilate the language to succeed.
The line “This place is eating us alive” incorporates the brothers moving into a new country as if being ingested by a new organism. He believes they do not mix with America and should be regurgitated back to a homeland where he belongs.
In movies with food and romance the question often comes up about how kissing is such a natural expression of love for us. While not particularly about ingestion it involves similar actions and sensations. The quote from Confucius is very observant, as eating and sex are the two most fundamental desires and motivations of every human being. It’s not coincidental that both are often compared to each other, including in expressions like “hungry” describing lust. There’s an excerpt from a grammar book about a man describing his son’s first experience with sugar. As the 1 year old ate his first cake his eyes flash with newfound joy and he gratefully gobbles up each spoonful. The narrator wonders if sweetness is “the prototype to all desire”. In a sense I believe this to be true. There are many developmental sociologists who describe the transition between oral exploration in infants and genital exploration in adults.
With Eat Drink Man Woman I decided to watch most of it without English translation; something fascinating about film is that the director’s goal is to communicate through visual and aural technique. This proves to do wonders for movies about food, where the language of cuisine really gets to speak. One does not need to know the dialogue to understand what an occupied table stands for. Likewise, most of the pivotal scenes in Big Night are dialogue free: we are to see the faces of diners upon eating and interpret the relationships formed from their reception. The technique of “food reaction” is very common. There are entire shows dedicated to this, and Youtuber Digibro has a video detailing how this is so common that in anime it’s come to be expected (and even difficult to master due to predictability) and explored within the medium. video here

Film Reflection (Lucy Hansen, ITAL190)

While viewing the films Big Night and Eat Drink Man Woman, I observed how the films examine food from the functionalist, structuralist, and developmental approaches. The functionalist approach, perhaps the simplest of the three, appears a few times in Big Night. Towards the beginning, Primo gets very worked up about the fact that a customer shouldn’t eat risotto and spaghetti because they are both starches. He strongly believes that each food group serves a particular function and that consumers must be loyal to that system. Later, Pascal refers to the functionalist approach when telling Secondo to “give people what they want.” Certain foods, such as his example of steak, provide the specific functions of familiarity and comfort for people. Thus serving these foods will allow a restaurant to prosper. In the movie Eat Drink Man Woman, the functionalist approach appears in Mr. Chu’s restaurant. The chefs are preparing an elaborate menu for the governor’s daughter’s wedding, and each dish has a specific function in the food system.

The structuralist approach is slightly more complicated than the functionalist approach, but it is no less relevant in these two films. In Big Night, for example, Primo’s insistence against combining starches is also structuralist because it is rooted in his social and cultural conventions of how food should be eaten. Primo further embodies structuralism when he relates “knowing food” to God. Food is such a powerful structure in his life that he elevates it to an almost religious importance. Additionally, social structures involving the preparation and consumption of food take shape in the contrast between Secondo and Pascal’s restaurants. For Pascal, food is about making money; for his customers, consuming food is all about glamor and presentation. Contrarily, Secondo and especially Primo view taste as the most important aspect of food, something that their customers don’t always understand. My identification of the sturcturalist approach continues with Eat Drink Man Woman when the Chu family gathers for Sunday dinners. Their system of eating is grounded in social and family structures and conventions. Their dinners are about the food in one sense, but also about a long-standing practice of spending time together.

Currently the most academically accepted approach to studying food is the developmental approach, which focuses on changes over time. Primo displays this approach when he expresses that people will “learn” to accept and enjoy food in what he believes to be the proper way. However, while he hopes that others will develop their tastes accordingly, he does not want to accept development in his preparation of food. For example, he gets offended at his brother’s suggestion that they stop serving his risotto for cost reasons. Examples of the developmental approach also appear in Eat Drink Man Woman. The Chinese food system has changed over time as fast food becomes more popular. Shan-Shan was going to buy her school lunch until Mr. Chu brought her a homemade lunch, reflecting a change back to more traditional methods of food preparation. Mr. Chu also represents development within his own experiences with food. Over time, he lost his sense of taste, but fortunately regained it at the end after tasting Jia-Chien’s soup. This example of the developmental approach finally bonds a father with his daughter after years of tension and fighting. In this sense, development in the form of a changing internal food system can reach far into other areas of human life.