Thursday, 17 February 2011

Totilla Soup

Earlier I watched a light hearted and warm offering for Valentine’s week released in 2001 and based on an original Chinese production called Eat Drink Man Woman, written by Hui-King Wang, Ang Lee and Jams Schamus. This film version Tortilla Soup is story of an American Latino cook Martin Naranjo who has lost his sense of taste and smell and has left the Restaurant where he was the boss with a partner who has taken over. As a widower of 15 years he has successfully brought up three daughters into adulthood although imposed who own values and dreams for their futures.

The eldest Letica was a Catholic who has becomes an evangelical Christian ands who teaches chemistry at high school. She is full of sexual guilt and has become even more conservative than her father. She resists pressure from her sisters to go adventuring. She begins to break out with a domestic plate smashing rebellion against their parent’s continuing control over their lives. She is also attracted to the school baseball coach who she thinks is responsible for a Valentine card and love poems, actually sent by students. He is shocked at first when she decides to respond but they quickly realise their passion and decide to go to Las Vegas and marry after beginning a sexual relationship. Father responds well as the film develops looking forward to a visit with his new son in law to the Dodgers although he eschews the offer of sausage dogs and cola for his own snack creations.

The middle daughter is successful in business and reached the point of leaving home buying a new Condo which is still in the process of being built. She is then offered a well paid job in Barcelona which she decides to take saying she will rent out the Condo. Her real passion is cooking and wanting to have her own restaurant. She makes it to the airport where father gives her some of his cooking knives which she is about to take as hand luggage in this pre 9/11 film. She changes her mind and at the end of the film she has her own restaurant and has the now extended family at a table.

The youngest is aggressive, angry with herself and the world and uncertain of her future, She is due to go to college but after a row with her father she moves into the small flat of her new boyfriend without asking him and then reorganises the flat and his life without seeking his views. When he expresses his reservations she reacts and leaves. The precipitating cause is some papers which he subsequently admits he had hidden away because he had applied to the college in order to be with her. They make up and go off to college together.

Entwined with their stories is food, glorious Mexican American food dishes always banquet style even for Sunday lunch let alone for special occasions. At one meal father is called away to his old restaurant because the outer covering of a baked pears dish has burnt. He works out how to use the pears into a coupe with great success. When he finds the daughter of a family friend is not enjoying her lunches he provides them for her in secret, at least for a while. He find it difficult to cope with his lack of taste and smell and this is affecting quality of the food he is preparing at home

The friend of the family is a young divorced and when her mother comes to visit she has immediate designs on Mr Naranjo. When is former partner suddenly dies and all three daughters are about to embark on their separate loves he announces at a family gathering with everyone present, including grandmother, mother and daughter that he has decided to sell the family home and all its past associations and but a new home large enough for everyone to come and stay. He is of good health and then proposes marriage to the daughter rather than the grandmother, the daughter is about the same age as his eldest daughter. She accepts and in the final scene at the restaurant of his doors, his wife is evidently pregnant in this everyone happy ever after story. He even gets his taste and smell back.

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