Thanksgiving is a time of coming together, of enjoyment, of abundance — in a word, of food. For centuries, the meal has been an American cultural centerpiece, a moment of epicurean indulgence and familial togetherness. And while we remember the feasts of our childhood with heartwarming nostalgia and salivating mouths, the feasts that have the most power over our imagination are the ones we’ve never actually attended, experienced only through the mind’s eye and the magic of editing. Perhaps it’s because they’re unattainable that they’ve become the focus of our hedonistic fantasies. Or maybe it’s because multimillion-dollar studio budgets went into creating them. We’re too hungry to keep contemplating, so while we raid our fridges, feast your eyes on the most delicious meals in movie history.
In Babette’s Feast, one of the most iconic food movies ever made, a French woman fleeing persecution begs to be taken in by two spinsters and their Protestant minister father in provincial Denmark. Babette, becomes their cook and housekeeper, over time learning the foreign culture through its food. The minister dies, and Babette serendipitously comes into a fortune, but, before moving out, decides to prepare one last lavish meal to commemorate the 100th birthday of the town’s late, beloved spiritual leader. This meal is both the setting and the theme of the film, which treats the preparation of food as a sacred ritual and propounds the sensuality at the core of coming together to eat.