A Touch of Spice for a More Fulfilling Meal and Life
by Skyler Tapley
A Touch of Spice (2003) is a Greek film based around food, with a specific focus on spices’ role in food. This film has a unique way of bridging a gap between many different aspects of food, the universe, and life. The key to doing this is through spices. This plays a very important part in forming multiple analogies throughout the movie comparing food to the universe or life. Spices are an important aspect of food and life: they may taste bad, be bitter, or be invisible, but in the end they create a more satisfying meal and life.
The movie begins focused on the protagonist, Fanis, as a young boy growing up in his grandfather’s spice shop in Constantinople learning astronomy and gastronomy. This is one of the first scenarios of an analogy between the stars, spices, and life itself. Fanis’ grandfather quizzes him on the different planets in our solar system and what different spices he is using to represent them. He first compares pepper to the sun, “Pepper, warm and it burns.” For Venus he compares how cinnamon is “sweet and bitter much like a woman.” The most important analogy was relating Earth to salt, “as life requires food and food requires salt to flavor it.” Fanis’ grandfather creates the relationship between spices being bitter or invisible, but those bitter or invisible flavors can become something more in a different context, just like in life through those bitter moments that create a greater appreciation or through an intangible invisible feeling that allows for a deeper connection.
The film creates the feeling of a bigger world around it with the use of long shots and integrating a feeling of there being more than just one city, but multiple cities, and even an entire universe as part of the film. It also uses specific angles to convey a message, such as when Fanis’ father considers being a Muslim it cuts to an angle of the clock in the foreground and his father in the background. The bright and clean colors and lighting of the movie allows for a crisp and vivid depiction of the spices and aspects of food which are important since they hold a deeper meaning to the identity of the characters. The most important aspect is the use of symbolism throughout the movie, allowing for the central subject of spice to hold a deeper meaning that is applied to the rest of the movie. All of these techniques allow for a smooth connection to different concepts that previously would have been difficult to relate. Through these different recurring techniques it allows for a continuity that connects more than just the scenes, but the analogies and symbolism as well.
A Touch of Spice gives the viewer a valuable lesson in cooking, astronomy, and most importantly, life. The film melds all of these aspects together into one conjoined theme. It surrounds food and spices with all of these important subjects to make it more palatable for the viewer. Salt and cinnamon may not be good on their own or even seem good in some dishes, but we may be surprised to see how cinnamon brings out the flavor of our meatballs, and salt brings out the flavor in all foods, or, as the analogy goes, we may be surprised at how salt or something bitter in our lives make for a more fulfilling life. A Touch of Spice creates a compelling and important film for all viewers, showing how a touch of spice isn’t always a bad thing in cooking or, more importantly, in life.
A Touch of Spice. Dir. Tassos Boulmetis. Perf. Georges Corraface. Capitol Films, 2003. DVD.