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The Guardian (29/Oct/2008) - Dial F for Food

(c) The Guardian (29/Oct/2008)

Dial F for Food

Alfred Hitchcock loved cooking and eating as much as he relished torturing his characters on screen, as his ample waistline attested. But according to a new book out in France this month, the film-maker and gourmand also enjoyed rustling up dishes to star in his movies.

In The Sauce Was Nearly Perfect – a pun on the Gallic translation of Dial M for Murder, The Murder Was Nearly Perfect – authors Anne Martinetti and François Rivière have collected the recipes of 80 dishes that made guest appearances in Hitch's films, such as the Moroccan tagine of The Man Who Knew Too Much, the quiche lorraine from To Catch a Thief, a plum bread in Rebecca, a pecan pie in Marnie, Vertigo's Maryland turkey supreme and the trout cooked up in North by Northwest.

According to the authors, Hitchcock, who was the son of a greengrocer, also used food as a means to drive the plot. Witness, they say, how key scenes happen around food: a policeman getting frustrated over an overcooked bird in Frenzy, the family meal in Young and Innocent, the picnic scene in To Catch a Thief or the dinner party at the house of writer Isobel Sedbusk in Suspicion.

The book combines recipes with a description of Hitch's life-long love affair with food. The master of suspense could often be found indulging in haute cuisine at Chasen's and Romanoff's, two of the best-known temples to posh nosh in Hollywood. At home, he loved the classic British dishes, such as Dover sole and meat pies, cooked up by his beloved wife Alma. Diets were tried but quickly abandoned, hence the constancy of famous silhouette.

Are there gastronomically-infused scenes in Hitchcock movies that have seemed particularly delicious to you? Or, for that matter, are there any food-related bits in movie history that have stuck in your craw? Over to you.