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The greatest foodie moments ever in popular culture


Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver

When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally

The Trip

The Trip

Man V Food

Man V Food




Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

"If music be the food of love, play on." So wrote Shakespeare in his play Twelfth Night, and that bard knew what he was talking about. Throughout the decades, in film, TV and more, food has been a theme in comedy, drama, heartbreak, romance and death.

Gangster movies, romantic comedies, theatre, documentary, you name it. It can be a metaphor for any one of those things, or all of them at once, so we decided to compile some of our favourite foodie moments of them all.

As always, there are just too many to include them all so remember to get in touch via Twitter (@TheInsiderMag) to join the discussion and tell us about your favourite foodie moments.

And to start us off, where better than the end of a classic TV series that revolved around food more than most...

The Last Supper (The Sopranos, 2007)

Do we talk about The Sopranos too much here at INSIDER? Maybe, but it's (almost) always justified, and out of countless dinner table confrontations and classic moments, the climactic scene of the iconic TV series left viewers scratching their heads and thirsty for more.

From the moment Tony walked in to the Holstens diner in Bloomfield, New Jersey, it was very much the family's Last Supper. From the framing that made Tony the Christ figure from Leonardo Da Vinci's painting, to him, Carmela and AJ popping those onion rings in their mouths like communion, the scene was bursting with imagery.

No matter what that sudden black cut meant - and don't you know that has been discussed and dissected more times than we care to remember - the entire scene was a perfect end to a perfect series. Plus, the booth where the family sat has been honoured with a plaque to mark the occasion.

The Don's Oranges (The Godfather, 1972)

It's well known in film folklore the relationship between oranges and death in The Godfather trilogy, being whenever you see that most delicious of fruit, the grim reaper would be following close behind.

 Cases in point: the assassination attempt on Don Corleone came amid him shopping for oranges after a day's rulings, and later on at the point of his death he can be seen playing with his grandson among orange trees.

There are several more such moments in the three films; Coppola once claimed it was originally unintentional before he and his crew realised, and started including more references.

Prison Food (Goodfellas, 1989)

Staying with the gangster theme, we're on to Goodfellas and one of the most memorable scenes from Scorsese's legendary 1989 drama. For Henry Hill and the rest of the mobsters, prison time is like a holiday where they eat and drink the best.

For that reason, dinner inside for them is a big thing where each of them has a job. Hands up who has ever tried chopping garlic with a razor blade a la Paulie (Paul Sorvino)? No, us neither but we will some day. You see it liquefies in the pan with just a little oil…

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"I'm not drinking any f*cking Merlot!" (Sideways, 2004)

OK, enough gangsters! A good meal is made even better with a glass of wine, as illustrated by hit indie drama Sideways. Miles (Paul Giamatti) is a wine expert to such a degree that he simply will not accept anything but the best.

Hence his strict rule for absolutely no Merlot whatsoever. The rule created a minor catchphrase among wine fans and reports suggested that Merlot sales took a dip after the film's success, while Pinot Noir (Miles's favourite) enjoyed a surge in popularity. His monologue praising that delicate grape is also a wonderful moment.

French Toast (Kramer vs Kramer, 1979)

We've brought this particular scene up before, back in our Father's Day special. Almost nothing has illustrated the trust and love between a father (Dustin Hoffman) and young son as this scene where the pair quietly and expertly prepare French toast together on the day Billy is due to go and live with his mother as per a heartbreaking court order.

It's almost a direct mirror image of the day Joanna (Meryl Streep) first left them and Ted didn't have a clue what he was doing. A wonderful, tender moment of cinema that gets you right in the feels every time. No wonder it won all those Academy Awards.

Gummi Venus De Milo (The Simpsons, 1994)

Anyone will tell you The Simpsons went off the boil a long, long time ago, but the early years are still pure gold, even if they have dated somewhat. Of countless food-related laughs Homer has provided over the years, we decided on the gummy bears episode as his finest. Gummy bear stuck to baby sitter's bum leading to trial by media?

It's not just any gummy bear either - it's the rare and exquisite Gummi Venus De Milo; how could Homer NOT just reach out and grab it? Honourable mention should also go to Homer eating potato chips in space to the tune of Strauss' The Blue Danube, and his experience with the world's hottest chilli leading to fox-based hallucinations.

The Soup Nazi (Seinfeld, 1995)

Given that most of Seinfeld took place in the gang's local restaurant, Seinfeld is another series that has thrown up countless hilarious food-related laughs. But the most memorable has to be the Soup Nazi, whose soup is so good that customers will go through hell in order to get a little taste of it.

Lose your place in the queue? No soup for you! Talk back to the chef? No soup for you! Question the strict rules in any way? No soup for you! By the ending, Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has inadvertently ruined the Soup Nazi's business; he was one of the many characters that returned to the show for the final episode to take revenge on her, Jerry, Kramer and George for wronging them.

Suicide Hot Wings (Man vs Food)

American food shows are great fun. Unlike the mumsy, homeliness of Irish and UK shows, they are determined to appear trendy and dangerous - none more so than the nauseating challenges undertaken by Adam Richman for Man vs Food.

Almost every challenge Richman undertook was TV gold - most because the dishes were both equally horrific and incredibly appealing. Everybody loves chicken wings, for example, but have you ever tried eating six wings infused with the world's hottest chilli, the ghost pepper? No? Us neither. Six doesn't sound like much but Richman gave up after just one bite. Then cried and hid in a walk-in fridge.

Bread Dance (The Gold Rush, 1925)

Charlie Chaplin's Tramp headed to the Yukon Territory to strike it rich in The Gold Rush, one of Chaplin's finest and most iconic silent films. Amid many classic comedy moments though, one stands out through the ages and that's his bread roll dance.

It's simple - two forks stuck in rolls, dancing like puppets - but by Chaplin's hand it's got that special magic that everything he did was infused with. Skilful, witty and much more difficult than it looks, the moment has been repeated and referenced many times since but it will never be bettered - nor will Chaplin himself. If you've never actually sat through one of his films in their entirety, please do; almost a century later, they still deliver.

Lads who lunch (The Trip, 2010)

If you've never seen Michael Winterbottom's The Trip, do yourself a favour and watch it immediately. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon travel across the north of England on a food expedition, entertaining one another with impressions and good conversation.

There is no specific moment we can say is the standout here because the entire thing is just so good, but the semi-improvised dinner conversation between the duo is so sparkling and hilarious - impersonations, mockery and food analysis - it puts both of them right to the top of our fantasy dinner party guest list.

"I'll have what she's having!" (When Harry Met Sally, 1989)

It goes without saying, When Harry Met Sally is the quintessential romantic comedy, and the famous dinner scene where Meg Ryan proves to Billy Crystal that women fake orgasms has stood the test of time for all the right reasons. Like many scenes on our list, the scene has been parodied many times by everyone from The Muppet Show to The US Office.

What's more, the best line of the whole film comes right after this moment, not from Billy or Meg, but the older lady next to them in the restaurant: "I'll have what she's having." Fact fans: the line is spoken by Estelle Reiner, mother of Rob Reiner, the director.

Wonka Bar (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971)

Most of our classic food moments this week are for grownups, but who loves stuffing their faces more than children? That's why the kid in all of us still adores 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Lakes of chocolate, everlasting gobstoppers, edible wallpaper and more. But the most memorable moment for us was always the thrilling bit when Charlie finds that money in the gutter and treats himself to not one but two chocolate bars. Such was Roald Dahl's depth of understanding that to someone like Charlie, a humble treat like that was worth more than all the Wonka bars in the world.

One of everything (Chocolat, 2000)

And speaking of chocolate, who could forget Chocolat; not our favourite film but certainly one of the most appetising. From the bustling joy of dining al fresco to the simple ecstasy of freshly made chocolate sweets with the tender loving care of a master chocolatier gone in to making them, it's a film to enjoy surrounded by goodies yourself.

Never more has food as a theme brought such romance with it. Now let's have an interactive screening of it where all of Vianne's (Juliette Binoche) sweets are served along with the storyline of the film. The less said about Johnny Depp's Irish accent, the better.

Jamie's Oliver's passion (2010)

This foodie moment isn't strictly from film OR TV, but it's a memorable moment all the same. Say what you want about Jamie Oliver, but he's got passion for good food, as proved by his speech to the TED conference in 2010 pleading for help in the fight against obesity in America. As a result he was awarded the TED prize: a $1m fund to make their plan a reality.

Was Jamie's project a success? That's debatable, as shown in the TV documentary that followed, but the speech put him on the map in the States and that surely went a long way to success. The 20-minute speech is easily viewable online; you'll never look at a chicken nugget the same way again.

Spaghetti and Meatballs (Lady & The Tramp)

Last but not least...the most romantic food moment ever on film is easily when a lovestruck pair of animated dogs accidentally kissed while sharing a plate of spaghetti kindly given to them outside the back of a restaurant.

And as for Tramp nudging the last meatball across the plate to offer it to his Lady, well if it was socially acceptable to nudge food across a plate with our noses, we'd all be doing it for our girlfriends. They would probably swoon too…if not for the sauce on our noses. Might try it some time.

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