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Monday, January 6, 2014

“A Touch of Spice” – A Movie Review

Coco Hsiao

A Touch of Spice is a Greek movie about how the problems between Greece and Turkey affect one family. The story uses spices and the memory of food to express people’s desire for their unforgettable “hometown.” It’s a special movie that is really touching and gives us something to think about.

This story is told in the order in which a meal is served. It starts from the appetizer (the main character’s childhood) and leads you into a new adventure. Fanis, who is Greek, lived with his grandpa in Turkey when he was young. His grandpa owned a spice shop, and Fanis was influenced by him. He learned not only how to use spices in dishes but also about the relationship between spices and life. However, joyous times didn’t last long after the political tension between Greece and Turkey started; Fanis and his parents were deported back to Greece because they were not Turkish.

After they went back to Greece, they weren’t treated well by Greeks because of their special identity and Turkish customs. It was hard for them to stay in Greece if they maintained their original lifestyle. In order to adapt to their new environment, they had to change their way of life. Although Fanis tried many things to get back to his homeland, he still couldn’t overcome the situation. Then Fanis started to stay at home, and he didn’t talk to anyone. He also spent his time cooking Turkish cuisine to remember his Turkish childhood and avoid the real world. The time from when he was a teenager to when he became an adult is like the main course in Fanis’ life, and he experienced many complex feelings during the period.

When Fanis grew up, he became a famous astronomer. One day, he heard that his grandpa would come to visit him. However, it didn’t come true at last. He went back to his grandpa’s spice shop in Turkey, but everything had changed. Only his nostalgia for his childhood hadn’t disappeared. Finally, Fanis understood that human life is like food; it has many flavors, and it leaves a rich aftertaste of past experiences. Just like a delicious dessert, your memories are always sweet and unforgettable.

In the sound track of this movie, they used western classical music combined Greek traditional music and Turkish Islamic music. The music comprised the characteristics of two cultures – sad and lazy from the Greeks, and mysterious from Islamic Turkey. It’s also filled with a strong national feature. When the story’s setting changes, so does the sound track; this makes the atmosphere much better. For instance, they play Greek music when Fanis’ family goes back to Greece, taking the viewer right into Greek culture.

This story of A Touch of Spice is rooted in the problems between Greece & Turkey. Because of the tension between these two countries, Fanis’ family had to leave their lovely homeland and relatives. They not only had to adapt to a new life in Greece, but also needed to bear discrimination. This made me think about how Taiwan is a bit similar. For example Mainland born Chinese or second-generation Chinese in Taiwan are treated differently. Sometimes they might be confused about who they are – Taiwanese or Chinese? Although second-generation Taiwanese actually may be Taiwanese by blood, Taiwanese may not accept them because of their different background and behavior. This creates high pressure, difficulties, and bad feelings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
In this movie, the director expressed his memories through the spices and flavorings of Turkish food. In one scene, Fanis’ grandpa tells him that, “Pepper is like Sun (hot & spicy), Mercury is cayenne, Venus is cinnamon (sweet and bitter) just like all women, but both food and life require salt to be tastier.” I think that here the director wants to tell us that life just like spice, and that we should put a little bit in our own lives. Even though we can’t control our fate, and there are always lots of emotions in our mind, it’s all a part of life. We should experience different tastes of daily life and learn from it. Then we can try to change ourselves and find a way to enrich our lives.

This is a movie that will be sure to make you cry. If you want to view this movie, just go to the Feng Chia library and borrow it. I believe that A Touch of Spice will make a lasting impression on you.


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