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Food on screen: they never eat properly on TV.

Sun, 13 August, 2017

The fact that it has taken me six seasons to start watching Games of Thrones (or is it Game of Thrones? Game of Throne? Games of Throne? see, I’ve only seen a few episodes and still don’t get who is a Lannister and who isn’t, let alone where the title’s plurals live), shows I’m not exactly a super fan of fantasy. I did eventually decide to see what it’s all about though, in exasperation of the series’ being written and talked about everywhere. Can’t dislike without trying, that’s what I always maintain – about food, admittedly, but it’s applicable in the wider context.

What do I think? I don’t see myself watching the six seasons back to back but it’s all right. It would be more exciting if those folks had a few machine guns. But the main thing is they never eat!  Apart from an odd raw horse heart. What’s the damn point of a mythical fantasy saga if you don’t show finer points of the lifestyle? All very well with direwolves and dragons’ eggs but are they edible?? What a terrible let-down in such an important department.

It does annoy me how food is often neglected on TV and in the movies – with notable exceptions of Babette’s Feast and Twin Peaks’ cherry pie. Just wait till a scene where dinner is prepared/someone cooks, and the next thing you know the plot goes off at a tangent and everyone leaves the table/restaurant/bar with the food hardly touched. If I was a TV writer, I’d make sure the food gets eaten before the main character admits to a fling/being a serial killer. A crisis is much easier born with a full belly. Barriga llena, corazón contento!

It also makes me think what happens if a vegetarian actor gets a part in a period drama that features medieval banquets with joints of wild boar and roast pheasants; and they are required to enthusiastically tuck in? Depends on the pay grade I guess – for the upper echelons tofu props will be at the ready, but what about the two-bit jobbing thesps the production team won’t even ask? That’s sacrifice on the altar of art, I’d say.

On the other hand, as I said earlier, very little eating gets done on screen so maybe they get away with faking it. The cult movie food scenes – man, just put it into Google! I swear people do little else but compile lists like that! – often feature next to no eating at all. When Harry Met Sally – she isn’t EATING. Cypher in Matrix only has a mouthful of the ‘juicy and delicious’ steak and then lights up a fat cigar. The Big Kahuna Burger scene from Pulp Fiction – Samuel L. hardly takes a bite! The Blues Brothers never get served their four fried chickens and a dry white toast; and Sophie Coppola’s Marie Antoinette wants candy, but only the doggie gets any.

One of my favourites is the Rosemary’s Baby scene where Mia Farrow starts to cook a steak and then grabs and eats it almost raw – I’ve always thought it was perfectly normal rather than a sign of being up the satanic duff. And the award for making eating look like she’s really enjoying it must go to Elizabeth Berridge, Constanze in Amadeus – and the famous Capezzoli di Venere.

But I guess expecting the Academy to introduce the Best Food award category is too much to ask.

 

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