MEXICO CITY (AP) — Traditional Mexican cuisine, family celebrations and the work of Santa Claus come together in the film “The Taste of Christmas,” produced by Salma Hayek and Jose “Pepe” Tamez, currently available on the streaming service Vix.
The melodrama premiered at the Morelia and Toronto festivals, where it was well received by the public.
“We’re very happy going to festivals because this film was made for VIX, which is a platform,” Tamez said in an interview by video call from Los Angeles. “But the reaction it creates in a movie theater is very special.”
Hayek said, “What I’m about to say is a little ugly, but you’ll understand well.” “You don’t know how happy it makes me to see everyone cry. I also cried with joy, because I had cried many times before when I saw her, and it made me very sad when everyone started crying.”
Tamez wrote the script which blends different realities of Mexico City in the crucial days before Christmas.
“I said, what’s essential about Christmas?” He remembered. The answer was found in food, family and, for some, work.
In this, Hayek added friendship as another important point of the film.
The stories of a chef who prepares Christmas dinner, a man who starts out as Santa Claus so children can take pictures with him, and a family who finally reunites after years with an estranged member, are interconnected in the film.
In the case of the family, the breakdown has occurred because one of its members is a trans girl and her mother is having difficulty accepting her without prejudice.
“In my youth, being out of the closet was not yet so acceptable and now, fortunately, there has been progress in that sense, but I tried to imagine what the equivalent would be today, the same resistance I faced 30 years ago. Was, said Tamez, who is gay.
For Hayek it also serves to represent the true spirit of Christmas in which there can be reflection, transformation, acceptance and unconditional love.
He said, “A moment where you open your heart to feel love, even if you’re angry with someone, or even if you don’t understand someone.” “This is a good time to become a better person.”
The cuisine of Chef Valeria, played by Mariana Trevino, is traditional Mexican decorated with tiles and pottery, just looking at it makes you want to cook. It’s also very special, because in real life it is the former home of Emilio “El Indio” Fernández, an actor and director from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.
Hayek said, “If the walls of that kitchen could talk.”
Tamez said, “What you see on the screen was actually created over several days.” “All those dishes were made and in the end we ate them because they had to be made again when the scene was repeated the next day.”
One who was happy was actor Andrés Almeida, who plays a chef named Genaro who is interested in learning Valeria’s secrets, because her dishes are famous.
“There was no way he wasn’t going to eat it,” Almeida said.
Trevino, on the other hand, couldn’t try it because she is a vegetarian. The two were mentored by chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita, who proposed for the film’s production that the menu should feature turkey from the Mexican state of Yucatán instead of the usual turkey.
Cooking was a challenge for Trevino, as he admits he has never prepared a complete Christmas dinner.
Almeida said, “I shouldn’t reveal it, but many of the shots fired by hand are not our hands.”
However, Trevino clarified that he learned how to make the “perfect” tamale wrapper and that he appreciated it on set.
In the heat of the stove Gennaro realizes that he is attracted to Valeria, they are both divorced and she had very bad experiences with her ex-partner, so she shows a lot of resistance.
“You think things can’t happen to you anymore in life, sometimes, you get caught up in it and say ‘I’m setting myself up in this defense,'” Tavino said. “Father, something happens to my character that makes him lose fear.”
Monica Dion plays Carmella, the mother of a family of trans girls. She is a perfectionist and wants her other daughters to be flawless for the day of the dinner. She also supervises the decorations, dishes and all the details of the celebration, which keeps her alert and in turn causes stress on her family.
“But it’s all for love, ‘I do this because I love you,'” Dion said.
Armando Hernandez and Juan Carlos Medellín play Santi and Chava, a couple of friends who pose as Santa Claus so that children can take pictures with him. These types of paintings have been made in the Alameda in Mexico City for years, but now their location has changed. In the film they return to their original place. Hernandez and Medellin said they spent a few weeks recording all night, surrounded by children. But it was the month of May and his Santa Claus suit was somewhat uncomfortable due to the heat.
“We had the opportunity to work with real Santas who work during the Christmas season,” Hernandez said. “And yes, it’s everything that we see in the film representing the commitment of the people who dedicate themselves, that it’s not just wearing the suit, it’s actually being Santa. And that’s what we also wanted, in some way, to represent them, because it’s really a very admirable thing to do.