Supper’s ready: Memorable food scenes on film

Movie meals – Here are the best


Food: It’s what’s for dinner – both in reality and on screen.

In fact, filmdom has supplied many memorable food-related moments over the years, be they in eating and cooking scenes or even in unconventional situations. The following is a list of a few we think are the best.

“Goodfellas” (1990): Those wiseguys sure know how to eat. That’s the takeaway from the prison scene of Martin Scorsese’s mob classic, in which Paulie (Paul Sorvino), Henry (Ray Liotta) and other inmates debate the correct preparation of tomato sauce with, among other meats, pork because “that’s the flavor.” You can practically smell the onions sauteing through the screen.

“Big Night” (1996): This ’50s-set drama about two brothers (Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub) trying to keep their New Jersey Italian restaurant afloat introduces us to timpano, an elaborate baked pasta dish that apparently when done right is a genuine culinary experience. The dish looked luscious but the eatery still folded.

“The Great Outdoors” (1988): Who can forget “the Old 96-er”? That’s the 96-ounce (aka six pound) hunk of prime aged beef that John Candy’s vacationing family man Chet attempts to consume so he can get his meal for free. This may be the first instance of meat sweats in a major motion picture.

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977): Wyoming’s Devils Tower plays a prominent role in Steven Spielberg’s classic about alien visitation, both as a possible landing site and the subject of a mashed potato sculpture that Richard Dreyfuss’ entranced character creates at the dinner table in front of his puzzled family, the result of telepathic communication with extraterrestrials.

“National Lampoon’s Animal House” (1978): Speaking of mashed spuds, how about Bluto’s (John Belushi) imitation of a pimple? Or the food fight? Not exactly food photography at its finest but the gross-out factor is certainly present in John Landis’ raucous comedy about a rowdy ’50s college fraternity.

“Waitress” (2007): When she couldn’t say it with words, small-town server Jenna (Keri Russell) expressed her pent-up anger and frustration through her pies, with creations such as the “I Can’t Have No Affair Because It’s Wrong and I Don’t Want Earl to Kill Me Pie,” which is vanilla custard with banana – but hold the banana. Much food porn to be had here.

“Lady and the Tramp” (1955): The titular animated canines share a plate of spaghetti and meatballs in a back alley. It’s been imitated many times over the years but this is the original. Accept no substitutes.

“When Harry Met Sally …” (1989): “I’ll have what she’s having.” Meg Ryan’s scene in a deli with Billy Crystal and a pastrami on rye is among ’80s filmdom’s most memorable moments.

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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