Food on Film: Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti

“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti!” – Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs

Maybe it’s because I’m not a crazed, cannibalistic killer, but somehow this just doesn’t seem appetizing to me. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted liver in my life – human or otherwise – and I can’t say that I’m too gung-ho to join that particular gustatory club.

However, this infamous quote does beg the question: How exactly did Hannibal prepare his meal?

His Liver

Being the cultured man that he is, I doubt Lecter would just eat his victim’s liver raw, especially if we assume he’s gone through the trouble of getting fresh fava beans and shelling them. Even though it’s fairly plebeian, I think our favorite serial killer might go with a standard Liver & Onions recipe, like the one here.

Now, the question becomes: did he prepare the fava beans with the liver in some sort of stew, or were the fava beans simply a side dish meant to fulfill Hannibal’s daily vegetable allowance?

Some Fava Beans

Unfortunately, we don’t know how the fava beans were prepared, as the script doesn’t bother to elaborate on this pivotal scene. But I can see it going one of two ways. Either Lecter was in a rush to get these beans done, in which case he probably just fried ’em up like this… or, he went all South American with the beans, and made a salad of this sort.

Since Lecter saw fit to even mention the beans, I’m sure they had some personal significance and he would thus have gone with the more sophisticated second recipe. But alas, that’s pure conjecture.

What is certain is the type of red wine that Lecter consumed: the king beverage of Tuscany, Chianti.

A Nice Chianti

Now, I love Chianti. To me, it’s one of those wines that even when it’s bad, it’s slightly good. And believe me, there are some bad Chiantis out there (just look for anything made in the states, which isn’t really chianti anyway).

Chianti generally goes well with red meat dishes and other heavy foods, and Hannibal could have even used it to braise the liver. Certainly a Merlot or Cabernet would have lacked the necessary boldness he was looking for, though substitutions of Sangiovese, Syrah or Zinfandel would have been just as complementary to the meal.

Then again, I couldn’t see any of those varieties roll off Anthony Hopkin’s tongue with enough verve to really sell the character.

Let’s see: “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice… zinfandel!” That’s just about as scary as my grandma at Sunday dinner.

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5 responses to “Food on Film: Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti

  1. i hope i don’t run into you on our street…. if i avert my eyes and cross to the other wise – this is why!!!!!

  2. Don’t be afraid, Meg – I was just getting inside his head, like those FBI profilers.

    You know I’d rather have a chicken thigh with pinto beans and a nice shiraz.

  3. Quoting from Thomas Harris’ book:

    “A census taker tried to quantify me once. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a big Amarone. Go back to school, little Starling.”

    Wish the film had stuck to the book. A culture vulture like Lecter wouldn’t be seen dead guzzling a common country wine plonk like Chianti. Amarone della Valpolicella is so much more like him.

  4. Pingback: The Silence of the Lambs - Chug Theater

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