Feast Your Eyes: The Lunch Box

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An image of samosas on a film screen pulled over a deep pink background with lighter pink diamond chains running widthwise.
Dinner and a movie, classy. Monu_maurya and OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay, manipulated by lee lim

Did you miss the festival? No worries, we’ve got you covered 

Earlier in the month of September, the Regina Public Library hosted the Feast Your Eyes: Foodie Film Festival. The festival paired film and food through a full course of screenings, performances, discussions, dinners, and workshops.  

Film line-ups included titles like Spirited Away, Killer Tomatoes Eat France, and Ratatouille. Of the films available, The Lunch Box, directed by Ritesha Batra, was standalone. The Lunch Box is set in Mumbai, India and follows the protagonist Ila. The storyline revolves around a mistake in the dabbawallas (lunchbox delivery service) that Ila sends to her husband daily. Instead, another man, Saajan, who is close to retirement, receives Ila’s lunchboxes. 

However, when Ila confronts the dabbawalla, he shakes his head and tells her the mistake is impossible and, moreover, their system was studied by Harvard University. Which is true, in 2015 the Harvard Business School released a study on Mumbai’s dabbawallah delivery service. Despite the mistake, Ila and the man who mistakenly receives her husband’s lunch begin exchanging notes through the daily lunchboxes. The film is a fantastic exploration of the culinary and pen pal worlds that serve as mediums for human connection. Filled with humour, subtle themes of loss, longing, aging, and connection, the film serves as a reminder that intimacy and love may take many forms. 

The screening was paired with food by Métis chef Jenni Lessard. Lessard opened the evening by introducing herself, the food she prepared, and her personal connection to the film. Lessard was raised in Northern Saskatchewan. Growing up she recalled having no reception or TV for many years. When she eventually got a TV, she would receive movies once a month from the closest public library and would watch them adamantly. The Lunch Box, according to Lessard, has a special place in her heart, as she met her now-husband in India when she was exploring the culinary arts with her now-mother-in-law. For the film screening she prepared a take on samosas, chutney, a prairie cherry chocolate, and cherry splash to drink. All of the ingredients were sourced from and/or grown in Saskatchewan. 

In 2019 Lessard became the first female and Métis Executive Chef at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park, a world-renowned Indigenous interpretative centre. Lessard is passionate about the fusions of Indigenous flavours, Saskatchewan-sourced ingredients, and culinary experiences. She says that despite misconceptions, Indigenous peoples in Canada, even just in Northern Saskatchewan, have rich and diverse herbs used to flavour and season foods. Many of which, including juniper and wild mint, were showcased through her cooking for the festival. 

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