From the cherry pie in ‘Twin Peaks’ to the risotto from ‘The Bear’: The book that shows you how to cook the most cinematographic dishes

A new book compiles 100 recipes that appear in some of the most iconic movies and TV series

Scene showing how to prepare chapaguri in the film 'Parasites.'NEON
Javier Arroyo

Julio Le Marchand and María Victoria Hernández, two Spanish book editors with a side interest in gastronomy, have published Cocinando con palomitas (or Cooking with popcorn, available in Spanish), a book with 100 “iconic recipes from cinema and television.”

One of María Victoria Hernández’s suggestions for a menu starts with the shrimp cocktail from Beetlejuice, followed by Jake’s Best Sandwich from Adventure Time. For drinks, try the $5 Martin & Lewis shake from Pulp Fiction. Dessert is inspired by the Notting Hill brownies. If you want to add a cocktail as a bonus, you can replicate the Old Fashioned from Mad Men, the Cosmopolitan from Sex in the City, the Bloody Mary from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or the Cocotini from Only Murders in the Building, among others.

Julio Le Marchand explains that he was “a cook from a young age” and that his first attempt to replicate a dish he had seen on the screen was the cherry pie from Twin Peaks, long before he even thought about compiling this book. “I found the recipe in the official guide to the TV series and tried to make it. The same thing with The Sopranos: I learned about cannoli and baked ziti,” he says. The next step, years later, was to help some friends who were setting up a bar. He contributed ideas of the type “put meatballs on top, like in Lady and the Tramp.” And when he began to dedicate himself professionally to the publishing world, he selected 100 recipes to publish a book. Although to really make it happen, he admits, he needed someone with better cooking skills than his own. And he found Hernández, a fellow book editor as well as a magnificent cook, he adds.

Catherine E. Coulson and the cherry pie in 'Twin Peaks.'
Catherine E. Coulson and the cherry pie in 'Twin Peaks.'ABC Spelling Ent. CBS Paramount

Hernández recalls that “we were looking for films with a significant dish in them that was relevant to the plot.” And she mentions the case of Tremé, a series where cooking and music are very important. In the end, what came out of that was not a dish but a cocktail, the Sazerac, typical of New Orleans. Overall, the book covers breakfasts and snacks, starters and appetizers, main courses and desserts, with recipes always referenced to a movie or a TV series. Each item includes, in addition to the list of ingredients and the steps to make it, a memorable line from the TV series or movie and a paragraph analyzing the role of the dish in the plot, its relevance in the city where it evolved, and other fun facts. The selected recipes, say the authors, are not very complicated. That was one of their rules, which is why they left out dishes such as the turkey in puff pastry from Julie & Julia. “It’s too complicated and people would never make it,” says Hernández.

Sometimes, the film itself offered the recipe, which could be at times a bit problematic because “it did not list the amounts and, sometimes, mentioned ingredients that are not the real ones,” notes Le Marchand. This was the case with the gazpacho from Pedro Almodóvar’s 1988 comedy Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. On occasion, “we located the recipe in the ‘Making of’ content of some series and movies.” On other occasions, the director revealed them. Official recipe books were also essential, if and when they existed, as with Game of Thrones and The Godfather. Incidentally, Northern Exposure, The Sopranos, The Walking Dead and Downtown Abbey all have their own recipe books.

Carmen Maura and Julieta Serrano in the gazpacho scene from 'Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown.'
Carmen Maura and Julieta Serrano in the gazpacho scene from 'Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown.'Orion Pictures / Everett Collection / CORDON PRESS (©Orion Pictures Corp/Courtesy E)

The pastry preparations, the authors explain, were the most complicated. This was the case with Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Fans of the classic movie may be surprised to learn that Audrey Hepburn did not in fact take croissants out of her paper bag to eat breakfast in front of Tiffany’s. They were Danish pastries, and by all accounts, Hepburn did not care for them at all; in fact, she hated all puff pastry to the point of trying to convince director Blake Edwards to use ice cream instead, even though her character was having breakfast at 5 a.m.. The director did not budge, and if any lover of the movie wants to bake Danish pastries, they will need skill and time because the dough is complicated to make.

The book also includes many vegetarian recipes and, in other cases, the authors suggest possible changes to the ingredient list to make them suitable for vegetarians. A case in point are the noodles with beef and mushrooms that Harrison Ford eats in Blade Runner. The authors suggest swapping the beef and original oyster sauce for seitan and hoisin or teriyaki sauce.

Sometimes the change of ingredients is made for obvious reasons. This is the case of the mushroom omelette, or Russian omelette — so called because of the chances of dying from it, as in Russian roulette — from the film Airbag. The poisonous mushrooms have been replaced with dry mushrooms, and since the recipe allows for four individual omelettes, those who “want to give it extra excitement” could add cayenne pepper to one of them.

The book spans a long history of moviemaking, from the days of Billy Wilder to 2022 releases. There is the cheese soufflé from the 1954 classic Sabrina, and the risotto from The Bear. Hernández admits to some favorites, such as the Apfelstrudel from Inglourious Basterds or the Old Fashioned cocktail from Mad Men. And just to be clear, Cooking with popcorn does in fact also offer a recipe for making popcorn at home, just like in the film Scream.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

More information

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS