Quentin Tarantino is a master at using food in subtle ways to anchor a scene or drive the plot forward. As Pulp Fiction is one of his most popular films ever, I thought it would be fun to analyze the food used in the movie and throw out some ideas for throwing a Tarantino or Pulp Fiction-themed party. Heck, after creating this post, I want to throw a themed party of my own and use all of these suggestions!
The scene near the beginning of the movie with Vincent and Jules discussing Vincent’s recent trip to Amsterdam is iconic. The two are discussing the minor differences between food establishments in the U.S. and Europe, namely eating mayonnaise on French fries and the fact that a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is called a Royale with Cheese.
Per the McDonald’s website, the classic Quarter Pounder with Cheese is served as: a ¼ lb of 100% beef, seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper, sizzled on a flat iron grill, then topped with slivered onions, tangy pickles and two slices of melty cheese on a sesame seed bun. An easy recreation to feed a crowd and that fits into the party theme nicely.
An article over on First We Feast discusses exactly why mayo is, indeed, a superior condiment to use with French fries. “Where mayo amplifies the crunchy, greasy nature of fries, preserving their best qualities, ketchup aggressively drowns them in a sugary tomato bukake broth, humiliating their decency.”
So, to start off any Pulp Fiction-themed party right, serving up a basket of crispy fries and a high quality mayo (go Duke’s or go home) is the way to go.
Not longer after, we’re treated to yet another food-driven scene. While taking care of some business for their Big Boss, Jules samples a burger from their target from a local joint known as Big Kahuna Burger. Jules rambles on about how he loves a good burger but can’t usually get them because his girlfriend is a vegetarian. He then takes a big bite, chews patiently, and exclaims, “Mmm! This is a tasty burger!”
Though not much detail is given about the burger from Big Kahuna, Jules does describe it as being a Hawaiian burger joint, so it’d be fun to serve up some real Hawaiian Burgers with teriyaki and grilled pineapple for those guests with a taste for something a little fancier than a classic Royale with Cheese.
(Oh, and an extra detail, Jules drinks Sprite during this scene)
Yet another memorable scene anchored with a food theme is Vincent’s date with Mia Wallace. Set in a quirky 1950’s burger restaurant with classic cars turned into dining booths and waitstaff dressed as classic Hollywood actors, Mia and Vincent order a burger and a steak, cooked “bloody as hell” and Mia famously orders a five-dollar shake. When asked how she wants it – Martin & Lewis or Amos & Andy – she replies with the former, meaning she prefers vanilla over chocolate.
Vincent asks if the addition of bourbon is what makes the milkshake so expensive, but after being told no we are given no further details. We can assume, however, that any extra fancy-yet-plain vanilla milkshake would be made using the finest of ingredients to justify its higher price tag. So when creating your shake, using a simple recipe like this one from Paula Deen, try using an amazing vanilla ice cream (or make your own!), a high quality vanilla (like Nielsen-Massey), whole milk from a local dairy, and make your own sweetened whipped cream for the top. Five Dollar Shake achieved. Don’t forget the cherry.
(Oh, and Vincent orders a Vanilla Coke during this scene)
When Mia and Vincent’s date goes south, Vincent makes a frantic call to his sloth of a drug dealer, Lance. Lance is shown lounging in a ratty bathrobe, smoking, watching cartoons, and eating Fruit Brute cereal. While Fruit Brute is no longer in production, you could totally mock it up by mixing in some mini marshmallow bits to a cereal like Froot Loops. You could even print out the original Fruit Brute graphics (free printable here) and glue it onto the box for an extra special touch.
While hiding out from Marsellus Wallace, Butch and his girlfriend, Fabienne, wake up in a hotel. Butch has some business to attend to, but Fabienne is famished and describes in detail the breakfast that she’s craving, one that’s fit for a Queen. “I’m gonna order a big plate of blueberry pancakes with maple syrup, eggs over easy, and five sausages.” To drink, she wants orange juice and black coffee. For dessert (yes, dessert after breakfast!) she desires a slice of blueberry pie (to go with the pancakes, ofc) and a thin slice of melted cheese on top. There’s speculation amongst fans of the movie that Fabienne’s behavior regarding her breakfast and some of her comments the previous night suggest that she is pregnant with Butch’s child and has not yet told him. It’s one of my favorite fan theories.
Most of Fabienne’s breakfast is straightforward, but here’s a fabulous recipe for blueberry pie. Don’t forget to serve it warm with a thin slice of sharp cheddar.
When Butch returns to his apartment to retrieve a watch, he hastily grabs a package of frosted cinnamon toaster pastries and shoves them into the toaster. This may seem like an insignificant detail, but a few minutes later the sound of the toaster popping up the pastries startles Butch into some pretty serious action, so it is a key detail of this scene. Easy item to add to your party table!
The scene where Vincent and Jules are standing in Jimmy’s kitchen sipping coffee, covered in blood, is one of the more unintentionally funny scenes in the movie. While there is some serious stuff going down and some problematic issues to be attended to, here they are remarking about how Jimmy has served them some “serious gourmet sh*t” instead of freeze-dried Taster’s Choice. A carafe of coffee with a funny label (“This is some serious gourmet sh*t!”) would be a hilarious touch.
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