'Hunger', the film that triumphs on Netflix based on haute cuisine, noodles and class struggle

In a broth with ideas from The Menu about toxic cooks and haute cuisine snobbery, we serve a generous portion of street food in the style of The Bear.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
22 May 2023 Monday 15:03
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'Hunger', the film that triumphs on Netflix based on haute cuisine, noodles and class struggle

In a broth with ideas from The Menu about toxic cooks and haute cuisine snobbery, we serve a generous portion of street food in the style of The Bear. Season generously with freshly squeezed stress from Hierve, plate up and we already have Hunger.

Reducing a movie to the sum of the plots or ideas seen in others is very simplistic and surely a lack of respect for the creators. But this improvised recipe based on recent gastronomic film successes can help to understand what Hunger is about. And also the unexpected success of this Thai movie on Netflix.

Directed by Sitisiri Mongkolsiri, it premiered last April and in a few weeks it has become one of the most watched on the streaming platform. As soon as one has seen others on the subject or some of the documentaries for foodies that abound on Netflix, it is very possible that it will appear well up in the personalized suggestions.

But what is Hunger about? With no spoilers to spoil an otherwise quite predictable plot, Aoy, a young woman with a street cooking job, ends up working at Hunger, the country's most acclaimed restaurant run by Paul. To no one's surprise, the chef in question is a true cretin who represents in a somewhat extreme way that occupational toxicity in the hospitality industry that has been talked about so much.

All the haute cuisine stereotypes about luxury, customers infatuated with the fashionable chef, or prohibitive ingredients follow one after another. On the other side, the street kitchen, the family, the people... A ruthless chef traumatized in childhood that only she, our particular heroine, dares to put in her place. First year of gastronomic drama.

Despite the fact that the film becomes quite long - it has at least 45 minutes left over, if Mongkolsiri allows us the note - it must be recognized that the social part occupies a prominent place in the plot and gives the matter some interest. Because beyond giving hunger and telling a story that we have already seen many times, Hunger does not avoid moral, economic and political issues. They are almost the most interesting, despite being sometimes presented in a somewhat crude way.

Wow, if the intention was to make a movie like Ken Loach but between the stoves, it has come out regular. But if the idea was simpler and it was about laughing a little at the rich -add a bit of The Triangulo de la tristeza to the aforementioned recipe- and a certain social denunciation -accompany with a couple of tablespoons of Parasites- at the end It has been a resultón dish.

But little more. Because the result is reminiscent of those dishes with too many elaborations and airs, but in which, when you put the spoon in, nothing seems to hit the spot quite right. The idea is understood, the good intentions are visible and even the technique is more than correct. But surely when we leave the door of the restaurant we will have already forgotten about him. Or we may be wondering where we had been served something similar before.

Despite all this, a couple of class struggle slaps are appreciated at a time that still seems to bother many to remember that cooking and hunger are also political. Haute cuisine in front of humble street stalls. Rich against poor. Caviar or noodles.

But let's go back to the merely culinary. Do films about gastronomy have to make you hungry? It happens with The Bear, for example. But in Hierve (Boiling Point) or The Menu this option is not contemplated. The kitchen is the protagonist, but what comes out of it either doesn't matter or almost pretends to be a satire of the high-flying gastronomic scene.

In Hunger, the only dish that has a certain prominence and that you want to eat - Chef Paul's ones don't look very good - are the noodles that the protagonist prepares in her humble street food stall. The same cook who burns kilos of kobe until she gets it perfect, then she is the goddess of the wok when it comes to making noodles.

The Cry baby noodles dish that she prepares is the antithesis of that exclusive deli-based cuisine that is reserved for the wealthy classes of the country. A family recipe that she inherited from her father and that acquires a special symbolism in history.

The truth is that they look great. And it seems that we are not the only ones who have thought about it, because for weeks the recipe to prepare them at home has been circulating on the Internet. Even in Thailand, the Roza brand in collaboration with Netflix has put the secret sauce of this recipe inspired by the movie on sale. One more proof of the success and pull that gastronomic stories have on screen.

Will we also see in Spain these noodles versioned by Dani García as already happened with The Bear's sandwich? Probably not, but there is the idea in case it is encouraged.