Food in the AFIs Top 100 Films (part 1) | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Food in the AFIs Top 100 Films (part 1) 

My sweetie and I are watching the AFIs top 100 Films in order from 100 to 1, even the ones we've seen before. We are taking the occasional break for lighter fare such as the first season of Heroes. Because I'm constantly on the lookout for interesting foodie tidbits, I thought it would be fun to catalog the role that the culinary arts play in these films, if any.

So far we've bitten off only three movies: Ben Hur (1959), Toy Story (1995) and Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). The newly released version of Blade Runner -- I've already seen the "old" Director's Cut more times than I care to mention -- is at the top of our Netflix queue, but is in high demand, so we're in a holding pattern.'s the skinny on food in the first three. I'm being careful not to give away any plot points in my descriptions:

Ben-Hur: Not much going on. There are scenes in which one character brings food to lepers and one in which Jesus gives Ben-Hur a drink. The only other one worthy of note was when Ben-Hur shared a meal with a  Sheik who insists that he belch to show his appreciation. Table manners as a marker of cultural difference, I guess?

Toy Story: Unless you count the appearance of Mr. Potato Head as a culinary reference , this movie is pretty low on the food chain, too. The one exception is the trip to Pizza Planet, although I remember stuff about the arcade games there and pretty much nothing about the food. Oh yeah, the evil kid Sid does leave his room to get some pop tarts.

Yankee Doodle Dandy: There's a scene at a boarding house for artistes in which the folks who haven't been working much and can't pay their bills are relegated to one end of the table and only get to eat goulash. I don't think the denial of the goulash was merely a matter of economics: Not getting to eat the same food the others were eating probably felt shameful to the characters who were struggling financially, and  in the landlady's mind, served as a carrot on a stick (this is what you can have when you get yourself a job...then you'll deserve to eat well).

Next up: Bladerunner, Do The Right Thing and The Last Picture Show. I've seen the first two and know that there will be a bit more to talk about. I have no idea about the third.

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Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a... more


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