How many scenes from movies or episodes of TV series got stuck in your head because of the food and drinks? My list is long and it just keeps getting longer. This list has been updated from the original published in 2014.
Rajesh Koothrappali’s omelet
Food has never been a central theme in The Big Bang Theory. In most scenes where there is food, the characters are often picking on salads or dipping chopsticks inside Chinese takeaway boxes. A few weeks ago, however, Rajesh Koothrappali cooked an omelet for his new love interest. She declared the omelet as delicious and Rajesh told her what makes it special—beating the egg whites separately. The scene stuck to our minds so much that my daughter, Alex, cooked a mushroom and cheese omelet a few days later in accordance with Rajesh’s formula.
Walter Bishop’s food obsessions
We watched Fringe for a long time—from the first to the last season. Walter Bishop, genius or monster depending on one’s perspective, was my absolute favorite character and I loved his eccentricities toward food. He loved sucking on licorice, he loved root beer float, Philly cheesesteak and fruit cocktail but he abhorred butterscotch pudding. He also liked fresh cow’s milk. Fresh as in straight from the udder of the cow (named Gene) that he kept in his lab.
Red wine in The Good Wife, Game of Thrones and Scandal
Oenophilia, or love of wine, is a recurring theme in three of our favorite TV shows.
In many scenes of The Good Wife, when lawyer Alicia Florrick came home from work, the first thing she did after taking off her coat and setting down her bags was to open a bottle a wine. She’d take a bottle and glass, place them on the kitchen island and she’d drink there often by herself. It seemed like a good way to relax but, toward the latter seasons, there came repeated comments about how much she drank.
Borderline alcoholism? Maybe. The woman had a philanderer and criminal of a husband (from whom she had separated), an ex-boyfriend who was gunned down in court and a career that was up one moment and down the next.
Everyone’s always drinking red wine in The Game of Thrones. Here are three of my favorite drink-related quotes from the show:
Cersei Lannister: “An unhappy wife is a wine merchant’s best friend.”
Tyrion Lannister: “That’s what I do—I drink and I know things.”
Thoros of Myr: “There’s no story so good a drink won’t make it better.”
The drink has been so visible on the show that HBO partnered with Vintage Wine Estates and produced “a chardonnay ($20), a proprietary red blend ($20) and a reserve-style cabernet sauvignon ($49.99). Each label represents one of the noble houses of the Seven Kingdoms.”
It’s a familiar scene in Scandal—a pajama-clad Olivia Pope lounging on her couch, drinking red wine with a bowl of popcorn while watching TV. The wineglass is large with a long stem and it has become iconic.
The thing is, Olivia Pope did not become a wine lover until late in her life. She didn’t like wine, she told her father (in a flashback scene), but he replied that it was only because she never had truly good wine.
The other thing is, Kerry Washington who plays Olivia Pope have said that she doesn’t drink alcohol. What she drinks in those scenes when Olivia Pope is supposedly guzzling red wine is anyone’s guess.
Clemenza’s meatball spaghetti
I like repeating my little anecdote about how I learned to cook meatballs in tomato sauce by listening to Clemenza, one of Don Vito’s caporegimes, explain to Michael Corleone how to make meatballs in tomato sauce in The Godfather.
You start with a little bit of oil and you fry some garlic. Then, you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste… You fry to make sure it doesn’t stick. You get it to a boil then you shove in all your sausage and meatballs. Add a little bit of wine… and a little bit of sugar… and that’s my trick.
Clemenza is Sicilian, it’s reasonable to surmise that when he says “oil” he means olive oil. The meatballs and sausages appear to have been browned in oil before they went into the pot of sauce. The wine is red based on its appearance but even if the visuals weren’t that clear, red wine is traditionally used when cooking red meat.
The Godfather hardly qualifies as a foodie movie nor a cooking show but Google “Clemenza meatballs” and the plethora of recipes inspired by that scene is staggering. There is even one site where Clemenza’s recipe was pitted against the recipe of Vinnie from another mobster film, Goodfellas.
And if Clemenza’s recipe weren’t memorable enough, I learned to make gnocchi by watching Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia), then heir apparent to the Corleone empire, teach Michael’s daughter, Mary (Sofia Coppola), how to hand roll each piece.
The opening scene of Eat Drink Man Woman
Among Asian films, there is nothing more instructional than the opening scene of Eat Drink Man Woman. Learn how to cleanly scrape off the seeds of a chili, julienne a whole radish, and gut, fillet and fry a fish in a span of a few seconds from the opening scene. I especially love that trick of holding the floured fish fillets over a wok of boiling oil and giving them a hot oil bath before sliding them in. There is no dialogue in the opening scene — just visuals but what an excellent source of Chinese cooking lessons!
Butterbeer and the candies aboard Hogwarts Express
There are movies that don’t give us any idea about how to cook or prepare the food and drinks featured in them but we remember them anyway. A case of powerful association, perhaps, as in the case of the Harry Potter candies, the most famous, perhaps, being the chocolate frog.
And then there’s butterbeer. Whether it is based on the Buttered Beer from Tudor times, no one knows. But Google “butterbeer” and, just like Clemenza’s meatballs, a long list of recipes appears, none of which cites Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling as the source. We can safely presume that all butterbeer recipes floating around are based on guesswork. The real thing can be had at Harry Potter theme parks.
James Bond’s martini
Then, there’s James Bond and his martini. In the 2006 remake of Casino Royale, Bond, ordering a dry martini, gave specific instructions on how his drink was to be prepared: “Three measures of Gordon’s; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel.” The recipe is based on one given in Ian Fleming’s novel. Bond called his drink The Vesper, named after Vesper Lynd. The curious thing is that the manufacture of Kina Lillet had been discontinued in the 1980s and, by the time of the Casino Royale remake, it had been rebranded as Lillet Blanc.
As a final note, there cannot be any talk about Bond’s martini without reiterating that it is always shaken, not stirred. It’s been that way since Sean Connery made the first Bond movie, Dr. No, and stayed the same through all the other James Bond movies until, losing heavily on the poker table in Casino Royale, Daniel Craig famously snapped at a bartender with “Do I look like I give a damn?” I remember how that line got a lot of moviegoers laughing audibly.