Best Use of Food in Cinema

Films are better with food, whether it’s in your lap or on screen. Admit it, you can sit through just about anything if accompanied by an over-flowing carton of popcorn, coated in a thick armor of melted butter. But as an enduring theme onscreen, food has become the lead role in some of the most infamous scenes in cinema history, and honestly, food has taken on more diverse, iconic identities than Johnny Depp, ranging from romance to humor, and everything in between.


No matter your age the first time you saw it, there is no denying that Lady and the Tramp is a Disney romance at its finest. And the most memorable scene? Two dogs with a plate of spaghetti sharing one noodle by candlelight, culminating in a kiss. Lady turns away, exposing her sweet and bashful demeanor, while Tramp offers her the last meatball; now that’s love ladies and gentleman. Take it from Disney; all it takes is a strand of spaghetti to spark a flame.


Everyone loves the underdog, even when that underdog is the most unlikely of sorts, such as Vivian (Julia Roberts) from Pretty Woman, the endearing prostitute turned princess with lackluster table manners. Amidst a sophisticated business dinner, our heroine, newly trained in dining etiquette mind you, is presented with strange cuisine (escargot) and even stranger utensils. Naturally, the escargot, or slippery little sucker (as she calls it), goes flying, only to be caught by the quick hands of a nearby waiter. But Vivian’s countless blunders make her an undeniably sympathetic character, solidifying herself as America’s favorite hooker.


Fear is not something one associates with food, that is, unless you’re a six-year-old presented with a plate of vegetables. But in Silence of the Lambs, cannibalism is the culinary center; yeah, and you thought vegetables were scary? One does not soon forget the chilling and intimate moment between federal agent, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), and imprisoned killer, Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), when Lecter affirms that even cannibals have class by delivering his famous line, “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Well, at least he had a sophisticated (and grotesque) palate.


Meg Ryan makes food particularly sensual when famously faking an orgasm in a New York delicatessen in the hopelessly romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally. We all remember it, we all blush but we can’t look away. And we all secretly agree with her fellow diners, we’ll have what she’s having (and one to go).


The Godfather is a constant cycle of fine feasts and mass murders; food brings families together while murders tear families apart. And like any Italian-American family, the infamous Corleone Family considers food of the utmost importance. All good conversations happen over good food and good wine. Audiences get the Italian sauce recipe from everyone’s favorite capo-regime, Peter Clemenza, who even shares what makes his sauce so special, “An’ a little bit o’ sugar, and that’s my trick.” But Clemenza’s finest hour comes after the death of Paulie Gatto when he utters the infamous line to Rocco Lampone, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”


The drunken, woman-worshiping frat brothers of National Lampoon’s Animal House have troves of unforgettable comical moments, ranging from toga parties to the notorious “FOOD FIGHT” declared by hilarious head brute, John Belushi. The Delta fraternity poses to audiences the age-old question: Why be a model student when you can have a FOOD FIGHT? And judging by the unforgettable mayhem in the college cafeteria that ensues, it seems they chose the latter.