Director / co-writer Anh Hung Tran has created a literal visual feast in The Taste of Things, where French cooking in 1885 takes center stage as a powerful metaphor for life and love. The story revolves around the kitchen of a famed and highly regarded gourmet, Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel), and his beloved cook Eugenie (Juliette Binoche). Eugenie has been cooking for Dodin for 20 years, and the passion and discipline required to achieve their world-class results make for an intimate relationship in the kitchen. The powerful understanding of the demands of culinary excellence has forged deep feelings between the two. They are also lovers, combining sexual hedonism with their epicurean adventures.
After decades of building an unassailable top-notch restaurant dining experience, they have achieved a rare relationship based on mutual respect and adoration resulting from their culinary success. Doudin and Eugenie have a devoted following of raving foodie fans. A small group of well-heeled gentlemen come often to dine and invest in Dodin’s endeavors. They also keep him apprised of new trends in cooking and rising stars among the local chef aspirants. Dodin takes on young women as cooks in training, and they work with Eugenie to learn her expertise to become the next generation in culinary excellence.
“…he begins cooking for her, reversing their roles…”
It would seem that Dodin has it all. He’s a wildly successful gourmet and restaurateur, wealthy, a cherished celebrity, and it’s hard to imagine wanting anything more. He’s absolutely at the top of his game, yet his heart desires to marry Eugenie. While he’s asked many times, she declines, knowing that to change her role from revered cook for a master gourmet to “wife” would be a demotion. As his equal in the kitchen, Eugenie knows freedom and a level of agency in her command of the cooking that she fears would evaporate if she married him. This reluctance to marry doesn’t blunt her affection for him at all, and for many years, they maintain a perfect equilibrium in the push and pull of that life. One day, when she’s not feeling well, he realizes what it will take to convince her that the dynamic between them won’t change if they marry: he begins cooking for her, reversing their roles. Life catches up to these fortunate lovers, as it does to everyone, but theirs is a charmed existence as they enjoy the rewards of their hard work.
"…redefines food porn, not to put too fine a point on it..."