The main characters in "Cooking History" are army cooks.
Simple men in aprons put on the uniform with their task to look after filling the giant stomach of a big hungry child - the army.
At first sight, their role is less important than that of the tank crews, aircraft unions or landing divisions. However, when a proper filling and emptying of the stomach is secured, it can also provide a fluent occupying and leaving of the army positions. Thus, army cooks can affect the mood and actions of the soldiers and influence the history through their spoons.
However, cooking and fighting have a lot in common: strategizing, judging the correct proportion of ingredients, flavouring. Food preparation becomes a metaphor for the battle.
I have chosen the European region for the „cuisine“ in my film. It is the „cuisine I understand“.
The film was shot with cooks in Britain, France, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Russia and Israel.
In many languages the word „tongue“ has two meanings.
Tongue – part of the body used for tasting.
Tongue – language we speak.
Tongue and language – both form the basis of the national culture. Both tongue and taste are already formed in childhood. Not surprisingly we speak about mother tongue and mother's kitchen.
Both are results of a long cultural development influenced by geographical conditions and historical circumstances.
Each nation has its master of speech: the French have Francoa Villon and Brillat-Savarin, the Hungarians Petöfi and Grundel.
Spitefulness between nations is reflected also in spitefulness towards national cuisines.
There is something like nationalism of tastes deep-rooted in subconsiousness of our taste cells. We do not like foreign meals simply because we do not trust them and we are able to raise our „national“ meals to a national symbol and are ready to defend it anytime.
Each nation tries to maintain and sometimes even extend its LANGUAGE territory.
Invasions of foreign nations have enriched our vocabulary by new words and our menu through new meals.
In our film you can hear and cook in seven languages.
I hope the film will be to its viewers´ liking.
Time is the most important variable in the army and the kitchen as well.
Individual tasks shall be fulfilled in a proper time order and during an exactly determined time period.
We can not beat a cutlet after having roasted it and a gun fire can not be started during the infantry´s attack.
In the film each cook is telling his own story, his own recipe for life.
Thus the time coverage in the film is limited by the age of direct eyewitnesses.
As one of the cooks, Mr. Békés from Hungary, says – „limited by lifetime of the human material“.
In the film the veterans are telling their stories from the Second World War, the Algerian War, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Balkan Wars and the war in Tchechenia.
The cooks are different. Some are cooking by using recipes, keeping obediently the instructions.
Some are constantly experimenting, have their own view on the cuisine and the world as well.
The Slavonic languages use an expression „to cook by sight“ – denoting people experienced in cooking, with knowledge of situations /in life and a pot as well/ that helps them to evaluate the given status of things by sight.
One of the main topics of the film is looking for a recipe of how people should behave.
Are the orders recipes?
Shall we follow the recipes in our lives? Who has the right to write cooking books? When can we refuse to live according to a recipe and when shall we cook according to an order?
The cooks – soldiers, colleagues, enemies. How would they behave at their professional meeting? Would they fight against each other or would they exchange their recipes?
And what about the moral message of the pots?
If all the cooks in the world would refuse to cook, would there be no wars?