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Event Wed Nov 27 2013

An Evening at a Food Porn Party

Last week, Kendall College (900 N North Branch) hosted the fourth annual Chicago Food Film Festival. Each of the festival's four days had a separate theme (two on Saturday) and Friday's was the Food Porn Party. It was all about pleasure: these films featured extreme, juicy close-ups of food.

Mark Klebeck's "Old Fashioned Salted Caramels" had me salivating for the featured doughnut drizzled with caramel and sea salt. Matt Checkowski's two films, "Beer Braised Ox Cheek" and "Mixed Berries, Three Ways" were shot against a crisp black background, making the food pop with color. Strawberries shimmered like rubies and hunk of raw ox meat looked elegant.

FONDUE-300x169.pngSix of the ten films had a food pairing, including the featured food in Checkowski's films. We also tasted the Paloma cocktail from "Paloma," the Mandorlato from "That's Mandorlato!" and beer fondue from "Fondue." My favorite though, was that doughnut from "Old Fashioned Salted Caramels." It tasted like like cake and fried bread had a love child, and then decked out in caramel sauce and sea salt. The whole audience moaned while eating this, or I just did, very loudly.


The film portion of the night finished quickly, less than an hour after they began. The longest of the ten films, "That's Mandorlato!" clocked in at 4:30. The woman sitting next to me commented while everyone made their way to the after-party that the screening usually wasn't so short.

I was surprised too, but in the end it was a good thing because few of the films had any story, or even dialogue. Seven illustrated, very beautifully, how a particular food or drink was prepared or processed. As mesmerizing as many of them were, I can only take so much visual stimulation without a narrative before getting antsy.

On the other hand, "Fondue" mocked the idea of food as beautiful, and fondue itself as a romantic, sexy meal while taking a swipe at porn films. Staring the mustachioed food porn star Larry Cauldwell, the film features him sultrily eating against a dark backdrop with elevator music playing in the background. A woman appears and feeds him fondued-sausage and broccoli; that camera is zoomed in enough so that we see the little green food particles on his tongue. A long, thin baguette appears in one suggestive scene, and in another, fire erupts from the bell of a barry sax.

Cauldwell popped in during the screening, wearing baggy cutoffs and a Hawaiian print shirt unbuttoned to showoff a carpet of chest hair, and stayed for the after party at the Fondue Lounge. Festival-goers took turns posing for photos with the star, using cantaloupes and those long thing baguettes as props.

My friend and I were eating cheese fondue at a neighboring table when a trio of women working the party, two wearing corsets, entered the Fondue Lounge to pose for photos with Larry, to the titillation of the small crowd. I realized then that it takes only a little prodding for otherwise mature, successful adults to revert back to being 16, to that time when a pair of melons positioned just so becomes hilarious. (The short and funny Shakycow Orange Juice commercial screened earlier at the festival featured a pregnant orange "that's ready to burst").

Through humor like this, the festival touched on the link between food and sex, but the night was more about celebrating food. Fondu Lounge aside, the rest of the after party was a chance to indulge in more food and drink, whether they were featured in a film (Burmese faluda, the Paloma) or not (beer-battered cord dogs, a wild hibiscus sparkling wine cocktail). The film festival as a whole stimulated the senses, as really good food does.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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