I recently watched this movie on Netflix, based on my mother’s insightful recommendation. The trailer isn’t exactly appetizing (Ha! I am so clever with my food-related wordplay), so I did a little of my own research courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, and Wikipedia.
I won’t focus too much on movie details, but two particular moments resonated with me. Akbar, a former chef and a current taxi driver, is explaining his cooking philosophy to Samir, a classically trained chef who dreams of going to Paris but has to help his family with their Indian restaurant. Akbar explains that cooking involves more than just measuring ingredients and following a recipe. It involves a combination of the brain, the heart, and the stomach. In another scene, Samir is angry that Akbar has listed “Trust Me” as Today’s Special for the restaurant. What if people don’t want that? Akbar replies that people don’t know what they want, they only know what they’ve had.
A couple of years ago, I visited a friend who was working abroad in Thailand. We met in Bangkok because neither of us had ever been and we always wanted to go. She is fluent in Thai and insisted that we try some of the establishments her Thai co-workers had recommended. Though I love street food (Taiwan’s night markets, DC’s food trucks), this was an entirely new experience.
One of the establishments involved a 15-minute cab ride under a bridge. We sat next to the kitchen, and I quickly took a picture.
My friend ordered in Thai, and the gentleman who owned the place took raw meat out of the blue cooler and began to prepare it on the round wooden chopping block in the background. I remember thinking, “We are definitely not getting drunken noodles.” I wanted to eat Thai food, but the only Thai food I was familiar with was probably as American as General Tso’s Chicken. My friend, seeing my concern, said, “Trust me. You’ll like it.”
The food was so good. What if I had gone with my brain, and refused to try something new because it didn’t fit my limited idea of what Thai food is? I agree with Akbar. Cooking and eating are experiences best enjoyed when the brain, the heart, and the stomach are all equally involved.
What about you guys? Is there something you didn’t know you wanted or you craved until you first sampled it?