What is eating? Is it constantly checking your phone while eating, or is it having your two hands involved and completely focused on your plate? I think we under appreciate the eating experience, as people we see it as a functional act, the only time we consider eating is with other people, our entire culture is based on this social interaction.
Eating is a multisensory experience, we look at the beautiful plating, smell the aroma, sometimes touch the food with our hands, then put the food in our mouth to complete the whole experience. Humans and food are two tightly knitted entities, from the beginning of our existence together. Foraging is an innate ability, our brains tell us to search for nutrition in order to survive. As a result, eating is an activity in which we engage everyday. However, we tend to forget about this fact when we are eating alone, we perform other acts such as watching tv shows or looking at phones when eating.
The film depicts the emotional states of a person being mindful and respectful when eating. During the course of the video, the scene toggles between two camera perspectives, splitting the screen into two sections. In the opening scene, the character carefully sets the needle on the vinyl record, hinting that it is the start of the meal. In the next frame, an overhead view showing a fine-looking dish on the plate alongside a glass of red wine and candle. Then, the character picks up utensils gently and starts slicing into the duck breast.
The following scenes look at parts of the body that reflects the state-of-mind of the character: eating is euphoric. In that case, the scene is shot at a close-range, focusing on the character's eyes, nose, lips, face, and hands. From how he/she is picking up the utensil, eyes looking down to the food on the plate, mouth chewing and breaking down the food to subtle nostrils movement of breathing in the air are all captured by the camera.
Aside from the surface level, the secondary layer illustrates the characters' inner cues and responses to food. Eating mindfully means paying attention to food in all aspects and understanding the value of eating. For instance, when the character sees the dish, he/she starts to think about how the food is prepared, the texture of the aerated puree reminds the character of the smooth puffy blanket at home. When slicing the duck breast, it reminds the character of running on the grass, firm but not hard. When dipping the meat into the puree is like loading a brush in ink. All these scenes are weaved together throughout the film. The imagination lingers even after the meal is finished.
“When we are not paying attention it is as if the food does not exist.”
The challenges that I faced is how to show the emotion and sensation of the eating experience from another person through film. Although the COVID-19 crisis forced us into isolation, it gave us the opportunity to be mindful and to rethink the meaning of eating.
I want the audience to immerse and imagine themselves as if they are the character eating in this scenario. Through the intimate soundtracks — the chewing and breathing from the character, along with the close-up visuals from the camera, it brings the audience along on this journey of eating. The subconscious scenes where the character’s mind departed from the present is hoping to evoke the audience's own association with the food. The goal for this film is to address that our eating experience should not be omitted, we should not consider eating as an end product, instead, we should practice being mindful of food and acknowledging the process of eating.
After the film, begin eating with the rituals to help center yourself, situate yourself in a comfortable spot and space, put away all the devices and to really “eat” for once.