Top pick for Wednesday (Feb. 24) at Cinequest is a fascinating documentary about, of all things, military cuisine. It shows tonight at 6pm at Camera 12
in San Jose.
(Slovakia et al.; 88 min.) Ever find yourself waiting in a dentist’s office thumbing through a New Yorker magazine, when you get sucked into a seemingly uninteresting article about something like the invention of the stapler or the function of dewclaws on cats only to be enthralled by great storytelling and new-found perspectives? The superb, beautifully photographed documentary Cooking History is kind of like that. Through poignant remembrances by aging military cooks, re-enactments of war and chilling archival footage, the films tells the story of six modern European wars through the lens of food. It plays like a secret history of World War II, the Chechen war, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the French war in Algeria and other conflicts. Food is a powerful force of national identity as well as a necessity, even more so when troops are in battle, hungry and facing death. In the end the film, and the multitude of meanings food conjures up, is bittersweet, like the memories of meals with friends and family long since gone. (Stett Holbrook)