Top 10 Movie Meals I Lust Over Since Starting My Diet

There have been so many mouth-watering, gorgeously presented food scenes in films over the years so it’s hard for me to pick just ten. But out of the 3,000+ movies I’ve seen, these are the ten that have really stuck with me and I often think about when I’m hungry. Being on a fairly restrictive diet as of late (no carbs, no dairy, no sugar, no fat, no fun, whatsoever, ever!) I’ve been daydreaming about these cinematic culinary delights more often than usual. From the extravagant animated feasts of Japanese anime to the shockingly caloric family spreads in Italian-American family movies, here are my top 10 movie meals I can’t wait to try on a cheat day.

10. “Parents’ Pig Out Sesh” from Spirited Away (2002)

Chiklis goes wild for mud dog.

When talking Miyazaki food scenes, everybody references Howl’s Moving Castle, but for my money, but really just my stomach, I’d go with Spirited Away. And not the scene where that giant depression ghost known as No Face is gorging himself on whole hogs before taking a filth bath. I’m talking about the scene in the first ten minutes where Chihiro’s parents discover this giant buffet table, stocked with various porks, steamed crab, dumplings, ducks, cornish game hens, and what honestly looks like chocolate swiss rolls. Despite being animated and completely surreal in design, this food looks frigging amazing. I’m sitting here all starving on my diet, daydreaming about just railroading these swine sticks into my cheese chugger. (Streaming on HBOMax)

9. “Untouched Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese” from Home Alone (1990)

You can’t battle Pesci on an empty stomach, kid, ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!?!

This little bastard just abandons his delicious, Stouffers’ Macaroni and Cheese microwaveable meal for one, because Joe Pesci and the guy from Celtic Pride decided to show up early? At least take five bites, Kevin. Just five bites. Holy shit, what I would give for five bites of macaroni and cheese…two, even. Just two! You need your strength, Kevers, paint cans are heavy AF and this Pesci guy murdered four people in his last movie. Kevin doesn’t even gulp down any of the milk. You need your calcium, Macaulay! Milk promotes strong bones in young men! Kieran would def eat that mac and cheese. (Streaming on Disney+)

8. “Kickback @ Korova” from A Clockwork Orange (1971)

These guys were def at the capital.

Oh man, speaking of gulping down some milk, the sociopathic scoundrels of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange do all their post-assault drinking at the Korova Milk Bar, a pub designed by Austin Powers. Instead of beer, it serves milk laced with some made-up drug that you can tap out of a lady statue’s breast. This is typically not a great food movie, in fact, it’s a wildly disturbing and intentionally off-putting movie that can test any moviegoer’s boundaries even fifty years later. It does remind me of milk though. I really liked those flavored organic milks that come in the glass bottles, I think Daniezen is the name of the company. The orange-flavored one reminds me of the milk left over after you finish a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. Good stuff. (Streaming on HBOMax)

7. “A Big Ass Breakfast Meet Cute” from Phantom Thread (2017)

Food and flirting really go hand in hand.

An outlier on this list because we never actually see this meal, we only hear it being lovingly described by Daniel Day-Lewis‘ Woodcock Reynolds to a server he falls in love with. Woodcock is a classic control freak – a self-absorbed, perfectionist asshole who isn’t really looking for a wife as much as a replacement mother. He’s a famous dressmaker though so everyone cuts him too much slack. One day he’s feeling particularly inspired and walks down to the local breakfast joint, hungry for breakfast among other things. Vicky Krieps comes over to his table and he falls in love. He orders a Welsh rabbit (basically cheese toast) with a poached egg on top, not too runny, bacon and scones with butter, cream and jam. He hates strawberry jam so he asks what other jams they have. She responds Raspberry. He responds, “What else?” to which she ignores and goes straight to his drink order – lapsang tea. And he also wants some sausages, cause why not? Your daily caloric intake is completely fucked at that point anyway, better throw in some hog rollers! He asks her out to dinner, she agrees and they enter into one of the most fascinating and fucked-up movie romances of all time. You never get to see that breakfast though. Bet it was stunning. Surprised he had room for dinner. ($3.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

6. “Pastries for Hand Jobs” from Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

A real precursor to American Pie.

Good pastries are infinitely better than any hand job you could ever get from someone’s hand and that’s why little Jimmy needs to buy the 5-cent pastries. There’s a neighborhood girl offering handjobs for 2-cent cream puffs so Jimmy figures if he gets her a 5-cent charlotte russe she’ll go all the way. He goes to her house, but along the way, he eats the charlotte ruse himself. He really takes his time with it too while ridiculously epic orchestral music plays. It’s a seriously weird but compulsively watchable scene from a really fantastic 4- hour movie directed by Sergio Leone and starring Robert DeNiro, James Woods, Tuesday Weld, Joe Pesci and Treat Williams. I wonder if Robert DeNiro is a big pastry guy. I really like eclairs, but not those huge ones they made because those are impossible to eat. Mini-eclairs are like the perfect food. ($3.99 rental on Google Play, Apple TV and YouTube)

5. “A Bird, A Bottle and a Baguette” from Pig (2021)

When you insult a vendor.

The best film I’ve seen this year, as of the time of this writing, Pig is a subtly surreal, low key drama about Robin, a former celebrated chef (a great Nicolas Cage) turned recluse, now living in the woods of Portland and hunting truffles for the fine dining industry with his trusty truffle-hunting pig. When two methheads break into his shack and steal his little oinker, Robin goes on a mission to find out who took her and get her back. Towards the end of the film, there’s a wonderful dinner scene involving chicken, wine, and a salted baguette that ends in cathartic tears, both for the characters and the audience. That baguette sounds dope. Man, I miss carbs. Sometimes something as simple as just salted bread hits the spot. Maybe with a little butter or olive oil with some fresh herbs. If you want to get fancy you can pimento cheese on bread, or maybe even a crab spread. Like bruschetta. My buddy had his wedding ceremony this past weekend and they had a bunch of bruschettas there, I couldn’t eat it, but goddamn, it looked great. (99 cent rental on Amazon Prime; Available to Stream on HULU on Friday, November 26th)

4. “Ramen Tutorial” from Tampopo (1985)

This is the best picture I could find from this scene.

Speaking of missing carbs, Tampopo is probably the most food-y movie on this list as everything it does has to do with ramen or food in one way or another. It’s a wonderfully funny, inventive, and even gross series of vignettes that might put you off of egg yolks forever, but does feature one scene that made my mouth water. The opening scene in fact, which involves some old dude and a very young Ken Watanabe. The old dude is basically giving a tutorial on how to eat ramen that starts off as informative but gets more far-fetched and ridiculous as it goes. Paired with close-ups of a big bowl of perfectly put together ramen is insanely tempting though. Especially when he partially submerges those roast pork slices into the broth. I’m more of a pho guy to be honest, but ramen sounds good right about now. My favorite part is the soft-boiled egg. (Streaming on HBOMax)

3. “A Slice of Cherry Pie and Coffee, Black as Midnight on a Moonless Night” from Twin Peaks (1990-1991)

The case can wait, it’s snack time!

It’s not a movie, I get it, it’s a TV show…but any movie food list would feel off without including the wonderful way diner comfort food is presented in Twin Peaks. David Lynch and Mark Frost‘s small-town murder mystery series involved some really dark, bizarre things, but once Agent Cooper (Kyle Maclachlan) returned to Norma’s Double R Diner for some cherry pie and black coffee, you knew everything was going to be so adorably wholesome. My co-worker’s wife might make me a cherry pie for my cheat day on Thanksgiving and I can’t wait. It’s going to be so good. I should live stream my cheat day. (Streaming on HULU and Paramount+)

2. “In Prison, Dinner Was Always A Big Thing” from GoodFellas (1990)

Garlic looks great even while being fondled by Paul Sorvino’s bear mitts.

It’s hard to think of a more classic movie food scene than the prison dinner sequence in GoodFellas. Basically, Ray Liotta is a gangster that has to go to jail, but what he doesn’t realize is that the mob owns the prison, so it’s more like a stay at Club Med. Sharing a sweaty bungalow with a bunch of wiseguys, Liotta narrates how dinner in prison is made up of steaks, pasta, lobsters, salami, bread, wine, and meatballs. Paulie did the prep work, he had this wonderful system for doing the garlic. He’d cut it razor-thin with razor blades so it just melted in the pan. Vinnie did the tomato sauce and put way too many onions in. Johnny Dio did the meat in a cast-iron skillet and it would stink up the already stinky place but everyone forgave him cause he got a good sear on a t-bone. “Tomorrow we eat sandwiches,” says Paulie while digging into this massive feast, like sandwiches are some kind of diet food. This is a ridiculously caloric, over-the-top feast but it gets outdone by one entry on the list. (Streaming on HBOMax)

1. “Louis Prima’s Timpano Feast” from Big Night (1996)

CAREFUL, TONY! Slice very carefully.
uGHHHHHHHHH

A wonderful little 90s sleeper hit about two Italian immigrant brothers running a failing restaurant in 1950s Brookyln. Segundo (Stanley Tucci) is the businessman/front of house man while Primo (Tony Shalhoub), is the creatively tortured chef. Having to deal with dumb ass customers asking for sides of spaghetti with their risotto or dumb ass customers not coming in at all, the two need a change so the bank doesn’t foreclose on their property. They seek help from a friend/successful local Italian immigrant restauranteur, an off-the-wall, unpredictable pseudo wiseguy, hilariously brought to life by Bilbo Baggins himself, Ian Holm. He claims to be friends with this famous jazz musician, Louis Prima, who he can convince to dine at their restaurant and generate buzz. The two brothers begin planning a gigantic meal that includes three types of risottos, suckling pig, gorgeous trout, pancetta and rosemary risotto balls, wild mushroom and goat cheese crostini, an array of olives and cheeses and finally, the show-stopping timpano (pictured above), a mixture of pasta, sauce, meatballs, genoa salami, hard salami, cubed mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and hard-boiled eggs, encased in a giant flour drum, designed to look like a timpani – hence timpano. A meal this rich and extravagant would certainly kill your death, but I’d gladly die in the pursuit of finishing this. Just bury my body in cubed cheese and spicy meatballs. (Streaming on Paramount+)

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