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Hannibal cooking.jpg

What’s Your Favorite Piece of Pop Culture Food Porn?

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Film | November 9, 2018 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Film | November 9, 2018 |


Hannibal cooking.jpg

I watch a lot of cooking shows. Next to crochet, anime and prosecco, it’s my go-to source of comfort when I’m feeling stressed or just want to unwind. I don’t necessarily watch people like Nigella Lawson, The Barefoot Contessa or The Supersizers for culinary inspiration - although I have tried several of their recipes over the years and rely on Nigella’s chocolate chip cookies recipe more than most people - but their process remains hypnotic. There are few things more simply satisfying than watching someone who is very good at their job execute the perfect recipe then take shameless pride in devouring it afterwards.

Any time two of my favourite things collides, there can be only good results, so any combination of food and pop culture is my true addiction. I’ve watched every episode of Binging With Babish on YouTube, for example, at least 4 or 5 times. There is no better mix than a great chef precisely recreating the recipes that made my mouth water in my favourite movies, television shows and more. If you have a blog or YouTube channel or Instagram account where you bring pop culture food porn to life, you have a dedicated follower in me.

Food is transformative and can transport you in a way few other things can. If film is our great machine for empathy, pop culture food porn is the worldwide communal meal that brings us together. For many, seeing traditional Japanese dishes in anime was their first introduction to that world of food. I remember seeing a Pokémon episode when I was a kid where Ash ate onigiri and wondered why his burger was made of rice. Pop culture can make even the homeliest meals look like the ultimate culinary fantasy. Food plays different roles in pop culture: It can be a magical force, such as the emotional catharsis it offers in Like Water For Chocolate; It can highlight cultural pride, as seen in many films but one of my favourites being My Big Fat Greek Wedding; It can be a display of pure affection, like Kevin’s meal of pollo a la plancha for Chiron in Moonlight. Even those supposedly cautionary tales of the evils of gluttony can present simple pleasures. Who among us didn’t secretly think Augustus Gloop had the right idea in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

With that in mind, let’s celebrate the moments of pure pop culture culinary indulgence that made our stomachs rumble the most. Make sure to share your own choices in the comments, along with any recipes for those of us willing to give it a shot. Me, I’ll probably just order in a curry tonight.


Prison pasta from Goodfellas



Henry Hill tells us that ‘in prison, dinner was always a big thing.’ Granted, this probably wasn’t a privilege afforded to any of the other inmates at this particular correctional facility, but hey, that’s the perks of being a gangster. I think every food lover has wanted to try Paulie’s system for garlic - a very good system - even though that’s not how garlic works. There’s something about a scene involving the hardest men in Scorsese cinema meticulously cooking pasta and arguing over the right amount on onions that is oddly heart-warming. Of course, the sauce also looks f—king delicious.


The pun game of Bob’s Burgers



While we seldom see Bob Belcher make any of the specials that adorn his kitchen chalkboard, the puns themselves are a source of immense pride. It’s oft-debated among fans of the show as to whether Bob is actually a great cook or not - I think he is - but his dedication cannot be questioned. Here’s a man who takes true pleasure in his job, as simple as it seems to many of his friends and foes. The only time his cooking gets more love is Thanksgiving. The sheer possibilities that arise in the viewers’ minds when they see his specials are near endless. While we’ve seen some of his specialty burgers - including the ‘Baby You Can Chive My Car’ burger - the best ones remain uncooked on Bob’s Burgers: My personal favourites include the ‘Mission A-Corn-Plished’ burger and ‘The Child Molester (comes with candy!)’ burger.


All the feasts from Spirited Away



I’m pretty sure Hayao Miyizaki would be impeccably scornful of my desire to devour every piece of food shown in his magnum opus, Spirited Away, given how much of the film is a damning portrayal of gluttony, consumerism and the fetishizing of wealth. It’s not like good things happen when people eat those feasts either. It turns Chihiro’s parents into pigs! But come on, it did look kind of worth it. The first time I saw the film with my sister, we had no idea what half the dishes were. It’s just not the kind of food that was or still is readily available in our area. Yet everything looked so utterly delectable that we didn’t care. Studio Ghibli are great at food porn in general - have any of us ever taken as much joy in ramen and HAM as Ponyo? - but Spirited Away takes the cake.


All the people eating in Hannibal



I make no secret of my long-standing fascination with all things Hannibal Lecter, but for completely understandable reasons, the early films and the books don’t exactly indulge in the good Doctor’s love of cooking. I guess it’s tacky or something to make cannibalism look good. Fortunately, Bryan Fuller had none of that restraint, so the NBC series not only featured delicious looking dishes made from the rudest residents of Baltimore, it made Mads Mikkelsen preparing said meals look as delectable as Eddie Izzard’s clay roasted leg. Hannibal is all about excess and giving into your darkest indulgences. Doctor Lecter is the devil himself - possibly literally so if you believe Mikkelsen’s own interpretation - and shouldn’t the devil make his misdeeds look amazing? I even own the official Hannibal cookbook, although I have not yet been brave enough to actually try any of the recipes. Can’t get the meat.




Kayleigh is a features writer for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.



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