HOW WE EAT NOW

TV din­ners are so last cen­tury! Now you can en­joy a Hol­ly­wood block­buster and tuck into the on-screen fare while you’re watch­ing, Emma Freud re­veals

BBC Good Food - - Contents - @em­mafreud

Emma Freud en­joys eat­ing at the big screen

– it’s like a TV din­ner, only bet­ter

I’ve been work­ing in film pro­duc­tion for most of my adult life, but it’s only re­cently I’ve be­gun to ac­tu­ally con­sume the movies. The first time was an eat-along screen­ing of Mamma Mia four years ago in a vil­lage hall. Dressed in Meryl Streep-style dun­ga­rees, teamed with lurex plat­form boots (clas­sic pair­ing), I was given a small tray con­tain­ing a va­ri­ety of Greek food, each item rel­e­vant to a dif­fer­ent mo­ment in the film. When Stel­lan Skars­gård tucked into his lamb kufti, so did the au­di­ence. When Pierce Bros­nan sang SOS, we ate a slice of ham. And when Colin Firth downed a shot of ouzo, we kept him com­pany. In hind­sight, pos­si­bly a lit­tle too much com­pany. You need know no more than that the screen­ing was the last eat-along-a-movie al­lowed in that par­tic­u­lar es­tab­lish­ment. De­spite the re­gret­table fall­out, it was a mag­nif­i­cent 4D ex­pe­ri­ence, and one which is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar…

Ed­i­ble Cinema pairs great movies with imag­i­na­tive food, and gave out vials of ‘poi­son’ (a gin & ab­sinthe cock­tail) to be downed dur­ing the cli­max of Bazz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. Se­cret Cinema served up gourmet prison slop to over­joyed cus­tomers just be­fore their screen­ing of Shaw­shank Re­demp­tion, and of­fered bratwurst and saurkraut as an ap­petite whet­ter for The Grand Bu­dapest

Ho­tel. Might sound un­ap­petis­ing, but it didn’t stop 100,000 peo­ple at­tend­ing their events last year. The­o­ret­i­cally, the com­bi­na­tion works be­cause the vis­ual de­lights of cinema and the tan­gi­ble plea­sures of eat­ing of­fer dif­fer­ent types of a sim­i­lar col­lec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence: the joys of film are vis­ual, while the joys of food are pal­pa­ble. And un­like the high­brow world of theatre or art, where the pres­ence of food is con­sid­ered in­ap­pro­pri­ate, you can do what you like when you’re watch­ing a film.

Even themed din­ners with TV movie nights work well… there’s a real joy in set­tling down for a curry with Mil­lion­aire, a Paella with or a cheese­burger and milk­shake with

Slum­dog Vicky Christina Barcelona, Pulp Fic­tion. The new se­ries of Orange Is the New Black is cry­ing out for a TV din­ner of car­rot soup with roasted squash, and every episode of The Crown’s sec­ond sea­son should be paired with cu­cum­ber sand­wiches and dainty scones. I once served a me­dieval feast of quail and par­tridge to ac­com­pany the gothic TV drama Gor­meng­hast and ear­lier this year, my chil­dren held a party to watch Red Nose Day and only served red food; the kitchen looked like a crime scene for days. I once hosted a Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test party, where we at­tempted to serve a food from each coun­try as that coun­try was per­form­ing their song – the food was great, though the show’s per­for­mance or­der was clearly not geared to a culi­nary logic. It be­gan with some Bel­gian choco­lates, fol­lowed by a Swedish meat­ball, then Ger­many’s black for­est gateau came just be­fore the Ital­ian salami, Swiss choco­late and Greek hum­mus. The UK pro­vided the bread, and Ire­land was but­ter, but sadly they never met in the run­ning or­der. In des­per­a­tion we re­sorted to a shot of vodka for each of the soviet coun­tries. Who knew there were so many?

Last month I booked a ta­ble at Par­lour restau­rant in Ken­sal Green for an ed­i­ble screen­ing of Not­ting Hill – a film on which I had worked as script ed­i­tor. De­scribed as ‘a new way to watch what you eat’, the themed din­ner was served in five cour­ses while the film was pro­jected onto the end wall of the din­ing room.

As Tim Mcin­nerny burnt the guinea fowl for Hugh Grant, we ate its per­fectly cooked great-grand­child. While Ju­lia Roberts was of­fered ‘the last brownie’, so were we.

And if you’ve seen the film, you may re­mem­ber the part where the char­ac­ter of Spike is found tuck­ing into some yo­gurt. ‘This yo­gurt tastes funny,’ he says half­way through the pot. ‘That’s be­cause it’s may­on­naise,’ says Hugh Grant. At this mo­ment, it tran­spired the large spoon­ful of yo­gurt I had just put into my mouth had been made by Mr Hell­man. We should def­i­nitely have cut that line.

And later this year, we’re at­tend­ing a drink-along screen­ing of With­nail and I at a Suf­folk fes­ti­val – a movie where the pro­tag­o­nist gets through nine glasses of wine, six glasses of sherry, 13 whiskys, a pint of cider and a shot of lighter fluid dur­ing the course of the 94-minute mas­ter­piece. At this screen­ing, the au­di­ence will at­tempt to drink ev­ery­thing With­nail drinks, though in smaller quan­ti­ties (and sub­sti­tut­ing the lighter fluid for vine­gar, as Richard E Grant also did dur­ing film­ing). The ef­fect should be ir­re­spon­si­bly funny and at the same time a re­ally bad idea – which should also please the film buffs, be­cause & that’s ex­actly the point the film was mak­ing too.

Good Food con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor Emma Freud is a jour­nal­ist and broad­caster, di­rec­tor of Red Nose Day and a co-pre­sen­ter of Ra­dio Four’s Loose Ends.

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