This week, I’m kicking off a monthly series, The Edible Movie: food-centric movies I think are worth your time to watch. Some of the movies I’ll choose will, no doubt, be more mainstream—there are some I can’t help but recommend, even if they were fairly big blockbusters. But there are tons of movies out there that probably escape the radar of the general population, and I’d love to shine some light on those smaller movies that I found deliciously entertaining.
Today, I’d like to draw your attention to Toast, a biopic that covers British food writer Nigel Slater’s childhood and adolescence. I watched it with my parents at Christmas, and we picked it based on a trailer that made it look like an uproarious romp.
Sometimes, trailers lie.
While there are laugh-out-loud moments in this movie, there are at least as many, if not more, where it will squeeze your heart—Nigel Slater didn’t have a sugarplum childhood. I hate spoilers, so I’ll leave the story shrouded in mystery, but suffice it to say, there were many scenes that left me ever-so-grateful for the many hours I have spent cooking alongside my parents in the kitchen, and for the fact that I grew up in a household that embraced and celebrated food in a healthy way (most of the time).
That’s not to say it’s a bleak film—not in the slightest. In fact, it’s in many ways a celebration of the powerful influence food has on our lives and our relationships. As a person who grew up with family dinners most nights of the week, it reminded me how very important those dinners are, and how valuable they are, both for family conversation, and for the food shared amongst the group. There are parts of this movie where that is utterly absent, and the void left is one that is utterly tangible and raw.
As I was working on this post, I found this interview with Nigel Slater after he spent time on the movie’s set. I must caution you: the interview and associated article definitely contain spoilers, so don’t click through unless you want to know more. But when you’ve seen the film, come back here so you can read the interview. It’s enlightening, and interesting, to hear someone talk about seeing themselves and their life reproduced on screen.
Toast has a running time of 96 minutes.