A selection of fine (and not-so-fine) dining options from the world of film

Can’t decide what to have for lunch today? Why not take inspiration from the movies with this menu of cinematic entrees?

• A selection of coffees: The two best films of 1994 managed to feature the full spectrum of coffee quality. Pulp Fiction had a homemade pot of gourmet java so tasty that gangsters couldn’t shut up about the flavour even while racing against the clock to dispose of a dead body. “Mmmm! God damn Jimmie this is some serious gourmet shit!” enthuses Samuel L. Jackson’s blood-drenched gunman. “Usually me and Vince would be happy with some freeze-dried Taster’s Choice right but he springs this serious gourmet shit on us! What flavour is this?” Meanwhile Jimmie (Quentin Tarantino) glowers at the two black-suited meatheads dripping gore on his kitchen tile and fumes over the fact that they had the temerity to park a dead squealer in his suburban garage.

On the other side of the coin we have the watery stale beverage served in a plastic cup in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours: Red . The movie is brilliant. The coffee less so as every character makes a sour face after ingesting the nasty stuff. Sam Jackson would not be pleased.

• Fresh bread: You wouldn’t think that an entire animated series could be based on the preparation and baking of bread but you probably haven’t seen Yakitate!! Japan (2004). This animated series tells the story of a talented young baker determined to represent his nation in a fiercely competitive international bake-off. People take one bite of a fresh loaf and squeal with ecstasy as visions of interstellar vistas and galaxies swirl behind them and they bellow about being transported to their happiest childhood memories — all from the power of bready goodness. Believe me when I say that you have never ever seen anybody enjoy bread this much.

• Rice omelet: The Japanese film Tampopo (1985) is pretty much a celebration of food from start to finish but one of the most memorable dishes we see is a simple mixture of rice tomato sauce and eggs cooked silently in real time and served to a hungry child. The cook in this case is a homeless person skilled in the arts of haute cuisine. Since he has to sneak into the kitchen of a fancy restaurant to prepare the dish there is no dialogue to distract from the cooking. The end result looks tasty and easy to make.

• Timpano: Nobody can watch Big Night (1996) without getting a hankering for the featured dish Timpano which seems to be a mixture of pasta sauce meat and boiled egg baked in a pastry shell. Ultra-obscure when the film was released the dish suddenly became the subject of much interest as hungry cineastes demanded the recipe. Who can blame them?

• The World’s Messiest Fried Egg Sandwich: Watch for it in Withnail & I (1986). Actually “don’t watch” might be better advice as the sight of a runny yolk squirting from an old lady’s face is not a pleasant one.

• Cochinita pibil: This tender slow roasted pork dish is much discussed by Johnny Depp’s character in Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) where it is refered to as “puerco pibil”. Depp’s character has the weird habit of ordering it at every restaurant and killing the chef if he finds the dish too delicious. In the DVD director Robert Rodriguez includes a “10-minute cooking school” in the style of his traditional “10-minute film school” featurettes. This time he gives his recipe for pibil showing viewers a step-by-step process for preparing the tasty dish. It looks yummy. Give this guy his own cooking show!

• Pissing beef balls: It’s hard to think of a more repugnant name for a gourmet dish but this oddball entree made quite an impression in the zany food comedy God of Cookery (1996). This fictitious foodstuff is supposedly a combination of two special recipes one for beef balls and another for “pissing” shrimp which apparently is a squirty seafood found in Hong Kong. The hybrid concoction is a little meatball that erupts into juicy goodness when bitten and is deemed so delicious that it causes anorexics to regain their appetite. Kung Fu Hustle ‘s Stephen Chow plays the super-powered chef who uses the weirdo recipe to reclaim his title as supreme cook although divine intervention also plays a hand in the wigged-out cooking contest finale.

Bon appétit!

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