Elegance, sophistication, and refined presentation define the characteristics of a dinner party that Hannibal Lecter would formally invite you to. This week celebrates the season finale of the brilliantly written new series Hannibal on NBC, which is like no other procedural. If you haven’t seen the first thirteen episodes, you’re in for a twisted ride. Luckily it has been renewed next season (another 13 eps), so we can happily get our gothic, epicurean delights fulfilled yet again. The series is a prequel to the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon, following the flowering relationship of admiring Dr. Hannibal Lecter and exceptionally empathetic FBI agent Will Graham. Fans would know that two movies were based on this novel- the first, Manhunter, directed by Michael Mann starring William Peterson as Will Graham and Brian Cox as Dr. Lecter. It was later remade as Red Dragon with Ed Norton as Graham, and Anthony Hopkins reprising the role of Hannibal.
The latest series stresses Hannibal’s palatable passions, titling each episode after a thematic course. One has to wonder where Dr. Hannibal has honed his exceptional skills. Was there a Le Cordon Bleu that he may have attended and perhaps dined with (or upon) his fellow classmates? Or was he simply practicing from legendary recipes, the likes of Larousse Gastronomique and Escoffier. Might he even have been a fan of Julia Child? After all, in 1976 during the sixth season of her show there was an episode covering brains, sweetbreads, and tongues! Imagine if these were not from cow as she professed, but rather from humans. Could there be real Hannibals out there, refining their art on unsuspecting diners? So popular is Hannibal’s cuisine that the show’s cooking consultant, Janice Poon, hosted her own blog sprinkled with telling anecdotes from the daily production challenges.
Today we recreate some of his more memorable courses from both the TV series and the movies. In typical Dinner Macabre style, all our dishes are primarily vegetarian and edible, which makes it challenging. Any heartless chef could use real meat components and there’s lots of websites devoted to that. But where’s the creativity? Let’s carve up some fun, shall we?
Bon Appétit, cannibals!
THE CLASSIC: Liver and Fava Beans (Paella)
One unsuspecting census taker is all Lecter needed for this recipe, along with dried Fava beans and a charming chianti. Taken directly from Silence of the Lambs, this is a versatile dish that can easily be re-heated and served for a nutritious, protein-rich breakfast.
Dinner Macabre substitute: Oyster mushrooms for the liver, simmered in wine sauce for color and flavor.
THE FLUTIST: PEPPERED TONGUE
This is a great way to serve up at that untalented woodwind musician, or perhaps the unrelenting gossip columnist who just can’t keep her mouth shut (we’re talking about you, Freddy Lounds). In episode ten (“Rôti”), escaped mental patient Dr. Gideon displaces a tongue from a patient (pictured above). Inspired by this horrific gesture, I present a culinary option slathered with peppercorns:
This is pure oral pleasure for Hannibal. Another way to silence one’s critics.
WASTED MINDS: BRAINS!
Ingredients: Annoying co-worker of a loved one (i.e. Paul Krendler, Hannibal). Known otherwise as the zombie’s delight, this unpopular course requires an acquired taste, not to mention the acquired victim. The sophisticated serial killers enjoy baking this with the brain-stem attached, which is not unlike the giblets of a Thanksgiving turkey. In fact, this brainy treat is the perfect Thanksgiving substitute which can be carefully stuffed and baked.
Dinner Macabre substitute: noodle brains, shaped and molded accordingly.
It was the first meal that Julia Child cooked for her husband, but rather disastrously. Popular belief would claim it was cow’s brains that she used, but foodie serial killers around the world suspect otherwise. What better way to silence critics of her show?
Trivia: So what do Hannibal and Martha Stewart have in common? Believe it or not, Martha Stewart admitted that she had broken up her relationship to Anthony Hopkins (who knew they were dating?) because…. get this… she could not get past the image of him as Dr. Hannibal Lecter! Think I’m kidding? Click the below link to hear this from the chef’s mouth herself. Incidentally, this is from the podcast of one of my favorite NPR shows, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”.
And that’s it this week. Let me know what your favorite Hannibal meals are and what you’d like to see us further create. Until then, have some friends for dinner. Bon Appétit!