Whitley Bay Film Festival 2018 presented the first ever smell ‘o’ vision film in the festival’s history – Like Water for Chocolate. The movie was screened the St Mary’s Lighthouse which is a fabulous venue just off the coast of Whitley Bay, situated on a small and impossibly cute island joined by a tidal causeway.
Como Agua Para Chocolate is a 1992 Mexican film in the style of magical realism, based on the popular 1989 novel by novelist Laura Esquivel which was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Like Water for Chocolate was the first of two Chocolate themed films (the other being Chocolat) being shown about food, providing a sensory celebration for film festival patrons. The event was presented in partnership with members of the Altered Eating Research Network, from the Institute Of Health & Society at Newcastle University. The ‘Altered Eating’ team are at the cutting edge of research into the experience of food for people with a “changed state of any combination of physical, emotional and social interactions with food and eating that has a negative impact on health and well being.” We learned that taste is 80% sense of smell, and that people who have lost their sense of smell or who have head and neck cancer can lose their enjoyment of food and flavours and have to relearn how to experience food.
Dr. Duika Burges-Watson introduced us to a unique ‘smell-o-vision’ screening examining the impact of the sense of smell on sensory experience. In order to demonstrate this phenomenon, we tried nipping our noses then chewing a skittle (didn’t taste of much) and then taking the nose clip off – what a revelation of taste! It is something I would say to try at home, as it is a low risk activity and you will appreciate your nose as never before.
The story of Like Water For Chocolate is about a family of women, a mother and three daughters. the mother is an unpleasant character who rules her family with a rod of iron. She insists that her youngest daughter Tito does not marry or have children as she must stay to look after her mother until she dies, as tradition has it. Tito loves Pedro, but her mother forbids her to marry and makes him marry her sister Rosaura instead, which causes much misery for everyone throughout the film.
Tito is an amazing cook and expresses her emotions of bitterness, passion and love through her cooking. Rose petal sauce on quails is one of her dishes which shows her love for Pedro. When she cries into the batter it poisons everyone at Pedro and Rosaura’s wedding.
As the film progressed Dr. Duika got us to smell Roses when Pedro brings them to Tito, we tasted salt when the food was spoiled and smelled sulphur from matches when Tito and Pedros’ passion is finally ignited. And when Tito makes the famous Mexican chocolate Mole sauce , we all got to taste the most amazing chocolate truffles!
Like Water For Chocolate is a film about love, loss, passion breaking traditions and death. In the end the theme of be true to yourself or suffer the consequences, comes through very strongly. A beautiful quirky and curious film was made even more fun by our unique smell ‘o’ vision experience. Like Water For Chocolate is a film about desire, tradition, gender, equality and the trans formative effects of food. This Mexican adult fairy tale portrays a spiritual link between food and the human condition and delights the eyes, and for us also the nose!
As we crossed the causeway back to the mainland, the sun began to set on a most beautiful summer evening, we reflected on a most enjoyable outing. the Whitley Bay Film Festival is going from strength to strength and getting more and more popular – I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!