Food and Film

ImageThis time of year is all about fasting and feasting. Time, perhaps, to think about film and its ongoing relationship with food. A dinner and a movie, or a DVD and a takeaway, have programmed our film brains to be linked to our stomachs. Despite bad boyfriends and poor excuses for dates, we know these things go together. And for a medium devoid of taste, smell and texture, food on screen has the power to make us salivate, leaving us hungry for more.

Food can be the very being of a movie, the guts of a plot, the passion of the protagonist: ‘Big Night’, ‘Eat, Drink, Man, Woman’, ‘The Cook, The Wife, The Thief and his Lover’, ‘Babette’s Feast’, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ or the recently released ‘The Lunchbox’. Sometimes the driver is excess, the exploding fat man in ‘Monty Python’s Meaning of Life’. Or else the torments of its absence, as in Steve McQueen’s ‘Hunger’. Food on film can turn our stomachs and show us the grotesque, such as the ingredients of Sweeney Todd’s pies, or become a shorthand for evil. You forget, because you’ve heard it so many times, how sickening it felt the first time you heard Dr. Lector utter, ‘A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.’

Sometimes a film isn’t all about food but a scene, or a moment stays with us like the memory of a good meal or a bad round of food poisoning. So while ‘Pulp Fiction’ is no gourmand’s favourite flick, we all know a Big Kahuna Burger is ‘the cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast’. Who can forget the doublethink involved in the way the beautiful photo menu is presented next to the grey slop that actually gets served in Brazil? And who wouldn’t want a peanut butter sandwich and two whiskey sours for breakfast, with Monroe, in the ‘Seven Year Itch’?

So, as a little Easter gift from Film Club, here’s a free film recipe. Taken from Goodfellas, transport yourself to the scene, in the kitchen, with Paulie, slicing garlic with a razor blade preparing Scorcese’s  mother’s  spaghetti sauce.Just watch your fingers if you attempt this one at home!


  • 9oz minced beef
  • 9oz minced pork
  • 9oz minced Veal
  • 3 ½ oz fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 onions finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced very finely with a razor blade
  • 2 cans peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh basil to garnish
  • Parmesan to serve.


  1. Combine all mince, breadcrumbs and egg. Season.
  2. Using damp hands, pinch off mixture and roll into balls about the size of an unshelled walnut.
  3. Heat oil in a pan and cook. Once the balls begin to brown turn until all sides are brown. Remove from the pan.
  4. Leave juices in pan and add onions, then garlic over a gentle heat. Add more oil if required. Then add tomatoes, bring to simmer, then turn down the heat. Cook long and slow till your sauce looks, smells and tastes good.
  5. Return the meatballs to the sauce to heat through. Serve with spaghetti, basil and parmesan.

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