Films / Raw And The Cooked: A Culinary Journey Through Taiwan, The
Germany | Documentary Feature | 2012 | 83 min | Website
Director: Monika Treut
Sponsor: A Single Pebble
Film source: First Run Features
“The Raw and the Cooked” is the title of the first volume of Mythologies, written by famed French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, a fact that was certainly not lost on filmmaker Monika Treut when she titled her film. Treut was previously well known throughout Europe for a bold, creative, and transgressive brand of filmmaking dealing almost exclusively with sexual politics. She studied literature and politics at Philipps University in Marburg Germany, publishing her PhD thesis, The Cruel Woman: Female Images in the Writing of Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, in 1984. It was around that same time she started to write, direct and produce award- winning features and documentaries.
Since 2002 Treut has been infatuated with Taiwan. Prior to The Raw and the Cooked, she wrote, directed and co-produced 3 documentaries in that country: Tigerwomen Grow Wings; Made in Taiwan; and Ghosted. Taiwan has one of the best and most diverse cuisines in Asia. Its 23 million inhabitants have a passion for food. But increasing urbanization has paralleled a decline in agriculture, and there is growing support among the Taiwanese for environmental protections.
Treut takes an ethnographic approach in this gorgeously photographed film as we go on a whirlwind tour of the island’s coastal regions. There is also an occasional touch of droll humor, but in this film the food speaks for itself. The cooking segments are so lush we can smell the spices and almost feel the heat on our faces from a tantalizing stir-fry. In a final scene, master fusion chef Liu Heng-hong offers spectacular edible objects in the form of roses, paper, bitter gourds, water bamboo and ailanthus prickly ash. We want to linger and savor the imagined tastes.
We follow the filmmaker as she seeks out people who are making a difference with innovative projects to create a sustainable food system. This film will be of interest to many Vermonters, who will certainly feel a connection through our concerns with locally produced food. -C.C.