From roast chicken on a brick to Big Kahuna Burger, a tribute to those memorable bits of films that send your tastebuds into overdrive...
This may have been done before, I know, but I love films and love food.
There are of course the old classics that everyone will bring up. Big Night, Delicatessen, Chocolat etc, but they are more about food, and with the exception of Ratatouille, I think my list is hopefully more interesting because the films have different subjects. So here is my list of top ten Cult Movie Food Scenes.
10. Sexy Beast – Calamari
A tricky toss-up between this and the incredibly intense breakfast at the ‘Grosvenor’ with Ian McShane. Two sun-dried retired expat crooks and their wives meet in a southern Spain restaurant. The atmosphere is fraught. A mysterious phone call has been taken. Don Logan, the most feared, psychotic London villain they’ve ever met (played by Ben Kingsley) has summoned Gal (Ray Winstone) to do that one last job. And he’s coming to ask him in person.
“I’m gonna ‘ave the calamari” Says Gal. Nervous doesn’t even come close (No YouTube embed available for this one).
9. Ratatouille – Goats’ cheese & mushroom smoked on the chimney
OK, so this film is about cooking, but it’s so stunningly well done I couldn’t possibly leave it out. There are too many scenes to mention, but the best for me is the slow cooking of the goat’s cheese with the mushroom, using the chimney for smokey heat. The way they visually describe the combinations of flavours using fireworks – Fabulous.
8. Blues Brothers – Dry White Toast, Four Fried Chickens & a Coke
Is there a cooler duo in the history of cinema? Er, no, basically. When Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi are on their ‘Mission from God’ their diner order of ‘four fried chickens and a coke, and some dry white toast’ is recognised instantly by long-lost band member Murphy. Queue Aretha Franklin’s super on-screen performance of ‘Respect’. Great stuff.
7. Twin Peaks – Coffee & Cherry Pie
Technically a TV series, this ultra-weird David Lynch spooky dreamy whodunitt-athon featured Kyle Maclachan almost every single episode ordering coffee and cherry pie in the local diner as he picked his way throughout possibly the strangest and longest murder mystery ever to be put on film. ‘Damn good coffee.’
6. Lady & the Tramp – Spaghetti
The most romantic food scene ever made in my opinion. How can you GET more romantic than a back street behind a trattoria, with the owner making you a little table, gingham cloth, breadsticks, candlelight, eating spaghetti from the same plate, and finding yourselves eating the same piece, your faces slowly brought together? 10/10.
5. Ripley’s Game – Truffle Pasta
More Ray Winstone, sorry. He’s one of my favourite actors, maybe a little typecast, but which great actor isn’t?
Here, he plays yet another thug, and in this scene he awaits a meeting in a Northern Italian restaurant, where a waiter shaves fresh truffle onto his pasta. The waiter stops, and Winstone continues to greedily and aggressively demand more and more, while we get more and more toe-curlingly uncomfortable. A great movie. Other great food scenes include the flicking of the egg yolk on John Malkovich’s sofa.
4. Spinal Tap – Dressing Room
The legendary 1980s Heavy Metal spoof hilariously nails almost every cliché known to Rock, but the dressing room canapé scene delightfully mocks precious prima donnas brilliantly. The folding of the ham, the mini breads, the olives (some stuffed, some not), and the enthusiasm for tinned tuna – ‘no bones!’. Brilliant stuff.
3. Goodfellas – Prison Scene
Was a difficult one, as Goodfellas also features such other classics as the dinner at Joe Pesci’s Mother’s house, and also the great paranoid ‘stirring the sauce’ Ray Liotta scene. But for me it is when all the mob are in prison, and their passion for cooking, technique and ingredients is hilariously brought to the fore. I particularly enjoy the slicing of the garlic with a razor blade.
2. Pulp Fiction – Big Kahuna Burger
Again, quite easily could have gone for John Travolta and the Five Dollar Shake, or the ‘Royale with Cheese’ car conversation, but this does it for me.
‘Hamburgers! The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast’ – Samuel L Jackson quite possibly unwittingly sowed the seed for the current new-found fascination with burgers back in 1994 when he demanded some of his victim’s ‘Big Kahuna Burger’ breakfast. I’d like to know if anyone can claim to eating a burger in the last 15 years without at least once saying ‘Um-hmmm! This IS a tasty burger!’
1. Withnail & I – Sunday Lunch
The roast chicken on a brick (eat your heart out Hix and the rest of the current chef ponces) the day before should really steal this, but for pure joy, the simple pleasure of sunday roast with the hilarious, gradually increasing sexual innuendo of Uncle Monty, and the likewise increasing fear of Paul McGann as they prepare and eat lunch, this scene has to be No. 1.