As someone who was raised on hot dogs and chicken McNuggets, it wasn’t until later in life that I really began to broaden my culinary horizons. Nowadays I love trying new and exotic foods and experimenting with recipes. I’ve been called a “foodie” before, but I hate that label as it implies I’m snobby about the food I eat, when in reality, I can just as easily chow down on some off-brand fishsticks as I could freshly caught mahi mahi with ginger glaze. If you know me, this is nothing new. I drink wine from a box.
The other day I got to thinking about how my first exposure to many of the “snobby” foods people like to eat came from movies, and this list was born. It’s fun to go back and watch these movies today, and think about how much my taste and knowledge of fine cuisine has changed since the first viewing.
#1 – Sushi
- What it is: Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice combined with other ingredients, usually raw fish or other seafood
- Movie that introduced me to it: The Breakfast Club (1985)
Even though I love the stuff nowadays, I have to admit it took me a long time before I was brave enough to try sushi, thanks in no small part to this scene in The Breakfast Club. For a long time I was under the impression sushi was synonymous with raw fish, which of course is false, as there are many different varieties of sushi, both raw and cooked, and plenty that don’t include fish at all. I suppose I could also blame the Ninja Turtles for further beating that misconception into my head, since in the cartoon they’d always turn their nose up at Splinter’s sushi and tell him how gross it was. John Bender agrees.
#2 – Vichyssoise
- What it is: A French soup made with potatoes, leeks and cream.
- Movie that introduced me to it: Batman Returns (1992)
Thanks to Batman Returns, I know precisely 2 things about vichyssoise, besides the fact that it’s really hard to spell:
- It’s supposed to be cold
- It’s the color of baby poop.
I almost can’t blame Batman for acting like an unappreciative dick when it’s served to him. I like to imagine that Alfred gets pretty bored hanging around the Wayne mansion day in and day out, waiting hand and foot a brooding, temperamental man child, and likes to flex his culinary talents by dreaming up ever more exotic and potentially disgusting recipes to serve just so he can get reactions like this one, and lord over Bruce his superior knowledge about world cuisine. It’s a very passive aggressive thing he does.
#3 – Pâté
- What it is: A mixture of cooked ground meat and fat minced into a spreadable paste.
- Movie that introduced me to it: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
I must have eaten hundreds of braunschwieger sandwiches for lunch during my grade school years, so by the time I saw Ace Ventura and learned what pâté is, the concept of “spreadable meat” didn’t gross me out all that much. One day I hope to be able to eat it as elegantly as Ace Ventura does.
#4 – Caviar
- What it is: The pickled roe of sturgeon or other large fish, eaten as a delicacy.
- Movie that introduced me to it: Overboard (1987)
Caviar is one of those foods I will never understand why people eat. I can really only tolerate it on sushi, and even then it has to be the tiny bead-sized variety and I still end up scraping most of it off. My first introduction to caviar was the movie Overboard, and I have to say I agree with Goldie Hawn’s “gelatinous muck” description–but then again, maybe that’s just because I’m not mega-wealthy and I’ve never had the luxury of knowing what “good” caviar is. Also, I didn’t get the dick joke until I was much older.
#5 – Chilean Seabass
- What it is: An endangered and expensive type of fish.
- Movie that introduced me to it: Jurassic Park (1994)
Because of Jurassic Park, whenever I go to a fancy seafood restaurant, I always check the menu for Chilean Sea Bass. I’ve never found it, but I swear the day I do, I’m going to order it. In the movie, Mr. Hammond gives the impression it’s very expensive, which for me has always added to its mystique. Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that Chilean Seabass isn’t bass at all, but a cold-water species called Pantagonian Toothfish that’s marketed under a different name to be more appealing to Americans. And according to Seafood Watch, “real” Chilean sea bass from the actual country of Chile is endangered. So if I ever do get the chance to order it, I will ask a million questions about its country of origin and by what methods it was caught, Portlandia-style.
#6 – Escargot
- What it is: Cooked snails, usually served as an appetizer.
- Movie that introduced me to it: Pretty Woman (1994)
Eating snails? A world of nope! Out of all the foods on this list, escargot is the only one I don’t think I’d be brave enough to try if given the chance. Admittedly it makes no sense, considering I eat other slimy things that have shells (clams, mussels, etc.). I’m also kind of against the level of pretentiousness that comes with any food requiring its own specialized set of utensils to eat, although I wouldn’t mind using them to fling a snail across the restaurant, like Julia Roberts does in Pretty Woman. That looked kinda fun.
#7 – Lobster
- What it is: Lobster (no shit!)
- Movie that introduced me to it: Splash (1984)
Because of Splash, I used to think this is how you were actually supposed to eat lobster! Five-year-old me was pretty dumb, I know. Having grown up in Baltimore, lobster was never really something I cared about anyway, since eating crabs is so ingrained into our culture. Lobster just tastes like butter anyway.
#8 – Flan
- What it is: Open pastry or sponge cake containing a sweet or savory filling
- Movie that introduced me to it: Envy (2004)
I admit, I had no idea what flan was before I saw Envy. Up until that point I thought it was crème brûlée, but apparently they are two different things. My only question now is how could you NOT want to eat flan after watching this scene?
#9 – Champagne
- What it is: Sparkling white wine produced in the Champagne region of France
- Movie that introduced me to it: Waynes World (1992)
Ahhh, Wayne’s World. You have given me so much knowledge. Without you, how would I know the difference between champagne and sparkling white wine, or that Milwaukee is Algonquin for “the good land”? Thanks to Benjamin’s wine snobbery, I’ll always have this fun factoid at the ready to impress people at fancy parties–that is, if I ever get invited to one.