This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.
To complete my Ratatouille trifecta…
I love the pivotal scene in Ratatouille and how it works and can be gotten on a couple of levels.
At a basic reading, when Ego takes a bite and is transported back to memories of his youth, the story works perfectly fine if you leave simply at that: He is reminded of his youth and mother’s cooking and is therefore overjoyed and won over by the food. Hooray!
But I’d say the real pivotal scene happens after that flashback. The real profound moment is one of transformation, found in the symbolism of the pen dropping from his fingers and hitting the floor.
What Ego got in that moment of tasting the ratatouille was not only a memory of his youth, but a remembrance of a time when he was able to simply enjoy food as food. When his love of food was truly an unencumbered love. Before it became part of his identity.
Ego’s whole relationship to food had become one of the ultimate critic – the truth speaker – inside of which he could only interact with food in ways that fit that world and as part of his reputation. His creation, this identity he crafted and presented those around him, was tightly wrapped up around a particular and narrow realm and view of food. He could only like certain things. He could only behave in certain ways. He was robbed of the pleasures of food. His experience of food was automatically and entirely filtered through this construct.
It was entirely stifling.
In that moment of tasting Remy’s dish, a moment of revelation wherein he saw what all this identity was costing him. It had its payoffs, for sure, but there were also many costs. And in that moment, sitting face to face with those costs, he let it go. The pen and identity of “Anton Ego, the critic of food” was let go, and the love, his love, of food for food’s sake returned.
It was a transformation, with freedom regained and good food gourmand returned.