Elderly mothers pick pineapple in Taiwanese fields and cook curry rice in a Singaporean hawker stand in Lin Cheng-sheng's biopic, 27°C: Loaf Rock, and Eric Khoo's telefilm, Recipe: A Film on Dementia, respectively. Both 2013 Chinese language films employ flashbacks to portray maternal food memories. Lin and Khoo depict food as comforting and possessing a unique ability to stimulate long-term memory to counter the short-term memory loss symptomatic of this form of dementia. The gustatory and the olfactory act directly upon the limbic brain, which houses emotions. In depicting Alzheimer's sufferers and their responses to food, 27°C and Recipe fight for causes. Lin calls attention to the marginalized in his portrayal of the mother succumbing to the disease from the perspective of her son—a character based on contemporary Taiwanese baker Wu Pao-chun, who overcame the adversity of impoverishment to win the world famous Master's de la Boulangerie and found prestigious eponymous bakeries. Parallel to its role in individual memory, food preserves cultural memory. Analogous to culinary arts, cinema, which is made for consumption, combines art and science, embodies culture, and incorporates tradition and innovation, as I show in this comparative study.
Maternal Food Memories in Lin Cheng-sheng's 27°C: Loaf Rock and Eric Khoo's Recipe: A Film on Dementia
Michelle E. Bloom is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Riverside, where she teaches courses on food in world film and on cuisine in French literature and cinema. Following the December 2015 publication of Contemporary Sino-French Cinemas: Absent Fathers, Banned Books, and Red Balloons by the University of Hawai‘i Press, she continues to conduct research on Sino-French cinemas, with a new focus on food. Her article “Eating to Live: Sustaining the Body and Feeding the Spirit in Tsai Ming-liang's Films” is forthcoming in the collection Culinary Nationalisms in Asia (Bloomsbury Food, 2019).
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Michelle E. Bloom; Maternal Food Memories in Lin Cheng-sheng's 27°C: Loaf Rock and Eric Khoo's Recipe: A Film on Dementia. Gastronomica 1 November 2018; 18 (4): 26–40. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2018.18.4.26
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