Foodie films: 5 classics for self-isolation inspiration

For everyone, this period of enforced self-isolation is tough, but it's also a time for reflection, not to mention an opportunity to hone some new skills.

Got some pots and pans that are gathering dust? Then take inspiration from our blog list of classic cooking movies – maybe these will inspire you to whip up a delicious feast during these troubled times.

1. Babette's Feast (1988)

First up, a Danish gem that's sure to get your stomach rumbling. In this heartfelt fable, based on the story by Isak Dinesen (on whom Out Of Africa was based), a woman named Babette comes to serve as the cook for a pair of Protestant sisters.

The two live a remote and strict existence on Denmark's Jutland coastline, and the unveiling of the eponymous Babette's remarkable cooking abilities reignites their senses. The movie was a huge hit, winning Denmark its first-ever Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

2. Goodfellas (1990)

Martin Scorsese's mob masterpiece is possessed of careering, thrilling energy, and crowned by a terrifying Joe Pesci on Oscar-winning form as reckless gangster Tommy. However, food is pivotal to the Italian-American wiseguy lifestyle, and Scorsese takes great relish in pausing the action to observe these rituals.

The moment where our central character and narrator Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) relays the prison recipe for cooking meatballs is a mouthwatering interlude. Just be sure to observe Paulie's (Paul Sorvino) method for slicing the garlic – and don't put too many onions in the sauce.

3. Like Water For Chocolate (1992)

This Mexican hit, based on Laura Esquivel's novel of the same name, begins with a shot of a woman chopping onions, and food is a theme that's interwoven throughout its story of forbidden romance. When a young woman is denied the chance to marry her true love, she instead channels her passion into cooking, and emerges as a culinary whizz.

This sensual drama practically invites us to breathe in the aromas of Mexican food, and it clearly struck a chord with audiences at the time, posting record-breaking box office grosses, not to mention a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. And if you're curious about that title, it's a Spanish-language phrase ("como agua para chocolate") referring to the tradition of melting chocolate over boiling water – a figurative reflection of the desires expressed in the film.

4. Ratatouille (2007)

Now, here's a movie that could double up as both a cookery lesson and a treat to bring the whole family together. Disney-Pixar's delightfully inventive story centres on rat Remy (Patton Oswalt) who defies his family and pursues his dream of becoming a Parisian cook. The movie, directed by Brad Bird, has lovely things to say about not judging a book by its cover, and those cooking sequences are to die for.

As interpreted by Bird's freewheeling camera and energetic sense of pace, an everyday restaurant kitchen is transformed into a wondrous environment of sights and scents. And the message is beautifully underlined at the end of the film when Peter O'Toole's fearsome restaurant critic Anton Ego, bowled over by Remy's food, opines that "a great artist can come from anywhere". If that doesn't inspire you, then nothing will.

5. Julie & Julia (2009)

We get two chefs for the price of one in this infectious comedy-drama from the late Nora Ephron (Sleepless In Seattle). The movie adapts the true story of American blogger Julie Powell, who was inspired to become a chef by the great Julia Child. To that end, Julie decided to undertake all 524 recipes in Child's cookbook in 365 days.

Julie is played by Amy Adams, on endearing form, and the formidably talented Julia is played by Meryl Streep, who performs another of her remarkable transformations. But really, the food is the star of the show – and if you're thinking that your kitchen isn't big enough to display your skills, Julie Powell manages just fine in her humble abode. Time to put on that apron and get to work.

What are your favourite foodie films of all time? Tweet us your choices @Cineworld.