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Eat Drink Man Woman

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Diana Corey
Topic replies: 30
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Eat Drink Man Woman

I recently viewed this film to consider showing during a cooking unit of my Mandarin 4/5 classes. It gives excellent insight into Chinese food culture, showing the array of dishes available at each meal, emphasis not only on flavor but on appearance and smell as well, and how gathering around the food is less about hunger or occasion and more about family and tradition.

The movie is about a master chef who has lost his sense of taste and the lives and relationships of his three daughters. They meet weekly for a Sunday meal, and each week we learn more about what each character is going through. The movie is full of news and moments that make the viewer gasp in shock, right up to the final lines. Below I am including some plans I am in the process of using for my classes, and therein are quite a few spoilers. If you would rather not have the movie spoiled, consider watching it before reading my plans and discussion questions!


I decided to show just the first 5 minutes (a master chef preparing a feast to share with his daughters for their regular Sunday lunch) at the beginning of the cooking unit just to get students' mouths watering and thinking about a wide variety of types of dishes before exploring and choosing recipes to try themselves. I had them read the transcript of the phone call at the end of the first scene (an introduction to food and cooking terms) and imagine and role play what the person on the other end of the phone call might be saying. I have asked them to predict who Lao Zhu might be talking to. At the end of the film, I will ask them to guess again about who he may have been talking to and what news he discussed putting off until a later date. 


At the end of the cooking unit, I will show the entire film, inviting students to shout out in Chinese what the chefs are doing during the cooking scenes, but otherwise enjoying the film. At the end of the film, they will discuss the following prompts and choose one to write a 2-paragraph response in Chinese. 


  • 老朱 is a master chef who has lost his sense of taste (尝不到味道了). Imagine losing something vital to one of your passions. What would life look like? How would you cope?

  • 朱家倩 (the successful businesswoman) grew up in the kitchen and loves cooking, but her father banned her from the kitchen. Why did he do this? Do you believe he did the right thing?

  • Filial piety (孝:honoring and caring for your father and mother) is a major value of Chinese culture. Of the three sisters, which do you think is the most filial to her father? Why?

  • What is the significance of 老朱’s ability to taste (尝) the flavor (味道) of the soup in the final scene? 

Esther Dupree
Topic replies: 33
Topic Posts: 3
Eat Drink Man Woman

I teach a cooking club and chose to show this movie to both my cooking club students and my SPED students.  

This movie is an excellent bridge to learn more about Chinese culture by starting with such a universal topic--food.  Cooking varies with different cultures and areas of the world, so this is a great way to show students ingredients and techniques they have never seen.  

For my cooking club, I would only show them this first cooking scene and present some recipes to try that incorporate some of the techniques used in the film.  I will also invite them to research recipes to try that will incorporate ingredients or techniques we learn about from the film.  They will be compiling a vocabulary bank from the first five minutes as we work to learn the names of every type of food we see and every type of cooking used in the film.  

For my class, this film has several uses.  We also do cooking lessons in my class because we work to learn about other cultures while learning adulting skills like cooking.  I will issue a simpler version of my lesson with my cooking club.  I will have about 5-10 new vocabulary terms written down with pictures for my students.  We will pause the movie and check off each term as we see/hear it.  I will also have a simple recipe to try incorporating some of the ingredients and techniques used in the film.

The other part of the film I think that will be useful is to address our transportation unit.  We work on looking at how people all over the world get to work and school and travel around their home towns.  This is a great film as it shows the Chinese citizens driving in motorcycles and taking public transportation.  It is different from what they see in Los Angeles and we will be comparing the transportation in this film to what we have seen in other countries and add the differences and similarities to our class transportation map.

The final portion of this film I find really useful is seeing what a school in China looks like.  Like with transportation, we study the way students all over the world learn and what their schools are like.  We will compare photos with the other places on our map and we will discuss the differences between what we see at our school and what we have seen in the film and in other places we have studied.  They will write about what they think is the same and what they think is different from what we see in Los Angeles and other cities.

As far as a film recommendation, I wouldn't show the whole film in any K-12 school as it has a sex scene that I wouldn't feel comfortable having students view.  I would highly recommend the film in bits and pieces as there are so many great insights into a Chinese city, which can help students relate to life in a city across the world from them.  There are even some excellent interpersonal conflicts that would be fantastic for students to observe and write about for an ELA or Psychology class.  There is generational tension as well as conflict and contrast between the sisters' chosen paths in life.  Many of the family dynamics are universal and students will be able to relate very well to the different points of view.  A younger generation bucking trends of their parents and finding new paths for themselves while some daughters are able to discover important cultural traditions and revived them into their own lives.

This is an excellent film for personal viewing.  Even though it is a bit old, the concepts are timeless.  Chinese cooking is rich in history and tradition and this film really stands the test of time.