Ken Watanabe

A taste for food on film

It was 30 years ago, and filmmaker Philip Kaufman was striving for an idea that would express how much the hero of his brilliant Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a health inspector played by Donald Sutherland, adored his married co-worker (Brooke Adams).

Kaufman needed a gesture that was sensual and generous, that would convey passion and caring without overstepping bounds. "So," he now recalls, "I had Donald cook for her. And the ingredients are so fresh, and he slices them and pours them into a wok so lovingly ... you see him set off a glow in her. It's always been one of my favorite scenes: an American man cooking."

Using food to externalize all of...