Young and Hungry

Gast-Zoetrope: The Blues Brothers

The forthcoming Julie & Julia has me reminiscing about my favorite food flicks, even some of my favorite food scenes. And naturally, in classic 21st Century thinking, I figured:  Why keep these thoughts to myself? Why not turn them into a blog series?

So welcome to Gast-Zoetrope, in which we occasionally bloviate over classic foodie flicks and scenes. First up is this moment from The Blues Brothers, John Landis' 1980 comedy starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.

What strikes me about watching this clip is how Belushi and Aykroyd are supposed represent youth culture and its disdain for pretentious fine-dining temples, like the stuffy, apparently French restaurant in this scene. The way Landis directs the scene, everyone under a certain age acts as if they were marched to the restaurant at the point of a gun.

Times have changed dramatically in the past 29 years; while such old-guard operations like this one are rare these days, they have been replaced with white-tablecloth restaurants that draw inspiration (and borrow plenty of techniques) from the French. The youth don't mock these restaurants; they frequent them as often as their bank accounts will allow.

Fine-dining, in other words, is no longer an easy signifier of the decadent rich, even if only the rich (or those with expense accounts) can eat at them on a regular basis. Eating out, on almost every level, is a far more democratic proposition. Younger diners don't go to these places to mock other patrons or prove their superiority by playing with their food; they go there to appreciate the work of the chefs, who, after all, have become pop culture figures on their own.

Got a fave food scene you'd like to feature or dissect? Drop me a line at