Feast Your Eyes: Babette’s Feast (1986)

As Bastille Day arrives this coming weekend, it’s hard to pick just one food film with a French connection. The French have contributed so much to the language, flavor, and art of food (much like politics and fashion).
But this go ’round, I choose Babette’s Feast. I know, I know, it is a foreign film in Danish with English subtitles, but its heroine, Babette, is French. 

When revolution breaks out in her native country, French refugee Babette appears at the door of two sisters in Jutland, Denmark. She carries a letter from an old friend of one of the sisters, and she seeks shelter in exchange for performing domestic work, including cooking. The sisters accept, though running a parish they inherited from their father, they are used to a diet of dried fish and fairly plain food that reflects their outlook and devout faith. Fancy, succulent French cookery is not their style, and they do fear its potentially soul-corrupting influence. The film delves into each sister’s past.

The film is based on a short story by Isak Dinesen. Dinesen is most famous for her memoir, Out of Africa. Coincidentally, it too was made into a film in the 1980s, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.

TRIVIA: Denmark has no official independence or national day.


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