Food Porn: Hannibal Serves Exquisite Dishes For the Not So Squeamish

Photo courtesy of Janice Poon

Coquilles. Amuse Bouche. Buffet Froid. French culinary terms that would make any gourmand worth his or her weight in black truffles salivate. But they have a deeper meaning to fans of “Hannibal,” the NBC cult sensation that follows the exploits of Dr. Hannibal Lechter and his nemesis Will Graham.

Much has been said about the excellent cast, pacing, set design, cinematography and music but the breakout star of the show has to be the food. During each episode, Hannibal cooks exquisite, elaborate dishes that would make Eric Ripert and Thomas Keller jealous. But this being a show about Hannibal “the Cannibal” things are never quite as they seem. Food stylist Janice Poon has the enviable task of designing meals made to look as if they are from human flesh.

World-renowned Spanish chef Jose Andres consults with Poon on dishes so exact and beautiful, you’d be hard pressed to find a flaw. Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) is a fan of offal, so most of the fare is sourced from lungs, liver, kidneys and other organs. The character can be seen nonchalantly slicing and dicing his way through various body parts from his recent kills, sprinkling herbs and spices on top and sautéing his concoctions in olive oil and garlic.

In the second episode of the season, “Amuse Bouche,” Hannibal serves FBI agent-in-charge Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) and his wife a roast of jeune filles, although they are led to believe it’s a perfectly cooked pork loin. They wax rhapsodic over the flavor and texture of the dish all while Hannibal looks on with a hint of a nefarious smile. Poon used three different pork thigh muscles and stuffed them with spinach and mushrooms. She encrusted the dish in prosciutto to, as she says on her blog, Feeding Hannibal (janicepoonart.blogspot.com), “make it look like it has a thin skin.”

Hannibal finished its season recently and won’t be back until 2014. But viewers can recreate some of the dishes thanks to Poon’s blog, which posts recipes from each episode. As Hannibal would say, tonight, have an old friend for dinner.