Monday, July 18, 2011

Have a Toast

I was in a 12 hour flight from London to Singapore. A range of movies, music and TV shows are in my disposal. I flickered through it but nothing really catches my eyes. As you may know, I don’t go for blockbusters with well known movie stars. I want to watch what others don’t watch. Something off the beaten path. Something different but as interesting as the famous titles.

I saw the name Helena Bonham Carter in one of the movies. A movie called Toast. I’ve never heard of it. But only with the Helena catch, I put on my earphone and pressed play.

It is set in the 60s, in Wolverhampton, England. Nigel Slater loves trips to the groceries and more than happy to pick up fresh food to cook with. His mother, however, can’t do well in the kitchen and always picks up canned food, or as Nigel put it, ‘never had veggies that weren’t from a tin’. Each time his mother overcooked or ruined a meal, they had toast, hence the title. Things got harder when his mother fallen sick and died of asthma.

Nigel kept trying to cook for his father now his mother gone. It was becoming a thing for him. Eventually, his father met a new woman, Mrs. Potter, a cleaning lady for their house. On the contrary, Mrs. Potter is an expert cook. Nigel was determined to learn how to cook and match Mrs. Potter’s expertise. He took home economics and made cakes for his father.

I find it hard to find the main problem in the story at first. But I started to see the connection. Because his mother can’t cook, he wants to do the opposite of doing great cooking. It is also powered by his curiosity of food as a child. Fresh food or at least non canned food was something very fascinating to him, making him want to use it even more. Along came Mrs. Potter who tried to take his mother’s place. She has something Nigel doesn’t, an ability to make good food. I think at that moment, Nigel felt challenged and wanting to do more, to satisfy his father and making the impression ‘I’m here first and I can do better’ on Mrs. Potter.

I say it’s a great story of doing something you are not familiar with but turned out to be good. Nigel never knew cooking but nothing is impossible. He later became very good at what he does. If you love something, it will fall into place, one way or the other.

It’s a TV movie starring Bonham Carter, with Freddie Highmore and Ken Stott, based on an autobiography of a British chef, Nigel Slater.

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