Tracking your life through food is something that is very relatable for me. If it were not for the rough patch during my teenage years, I would have never learned that I loved cooking and eating, of course. This is something that Nigel Slater knows a lot about as well. In his memoir Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger, he describes his boyhood in terms of food memories.
The book starts out with, “My mother is scraping a piece of burned toast out of the kitchen window;” you automatically know that this is a story about a love/hate relationship with food. But it’s also about Slater’s tough upbringing. His family didn’t have very much money, his mother died before he was 10 of a severe asthma attack, his father ignored him, then married the cleaning lady and passed away, himself; needless to say, this kid had it rough. But what brought him through was his passion for food and his desire to cook. “I love bread-and-butter pudding. I love its layers of sweet, quivering custard, juicy raisins, and puffed, golden crust. I love the way it sings quietly in the oven; the way it wobbles on the spoon.” This is just one of many detailed food descriptions Slater give throughout the book; the chapters are even titled after memorable dishes. [expand]
Now this autobiography has become a movie and is part of From Britain with Love, a program of six independent films that will exclusively run at the Parrish Art Museum from July 11 through August 22. Toast is directed by S. J. Clarkson and stars Helena Bonham Carter, Freddie Highmore and Ken Stott. Although the acting and setting are superb, the movie does differ from the book. As previously stated, the book concentrates on Slater’s love for food and hunger, no pun intended, to learn how to cook. However, the film is more about Slater’s odd journey through his early life, including dealing with his homosexuality. Then it is just kind of thrown in there that Joan Potter, Slater’s stepmother, played by Bonham Carter, can make a mean lemon meringue pie and his interest in food peaks from there.
There are five other British films that are going to be shown over the six weeks. On July 18 there is In Our Name, in which a British soldier named Suzy is trying to fit into civilian life after a tour in Iraq. Premiering on July 25 is In Africa United, in which three Rwandan children sneak onto a bus and set off to Rwanda’s capital city to audition for the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup, but end up on the wrong bus, headed to the Congo. Showing August 1, Third Star is the story of a man named James, who has terminal cancer and wants to make the most of this life by inviting his three closest friends to join him on a camping trip to a beach in West Wales. Non-Educated Delinquent, or NEDs, is presented on August 8. It is the story of John McGill and his friendship with Julian. Scared and angry, he joins a gang of NEDs, bad boys with weapons and attitude, enamored of cheap drugs, glam rock, fumbling sex and the violence of the streets. Finally, on August 22, A Man Called Dad is about a 14-year-old boy suddenly becoming a father and struggling with growing up very quickly.
The screenings will be Mondays at 5:30 p.m. at the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton. Tickets are $5 (for each film) for Parrish members, $7 for nonmembers. [/expand]