Friday, 19 June 2015

Episode 3 Secondo

Two pins of light in the darkness

Star and Firefly. 

Capture the firefly in a jar

Briefly, it will light your way. 

Capture the star?


But it burns, white hot and constant

Long after you have turned and gone away.

Honey, grab your apron and your passport…

there’s going to be food, food, food in Episode 3!

Just reading the Location List of the new script makes me giddy: Florence, Baltimore, Lithuania. Palermo.  On the Interiors List: two kitchens and a dining room. Yesssss!

OK, and maybe a mauling or murder or two…

But what care I of such blood-letting. My food styling concerns come after the mayhem and violence. Albeit cooking is not a gentle art, comprised as it is of beating, chopping,whipping. Searing, rending, grinding.

It’s never smooth sailing. Not even the pheasants, souls dispatched, can have a quiet day on set.

two beauties waiting for their closeup

Not pleasant for pheasants or peasants

I’m not sure how much I should tell you about prepping for Chiyo’s pheasant plucking scene. It starts out badly when I get to set and half of the pheasants have already been plucked by someone who didn’t know how delicate pheasant skin is. They thought they were helping me. But the pheasants look like they’ve gone 9 rounds with the Red Dragon – patchy feather-dotted skin torn from purple flesh. I had to beg more pheasants off the set decorator so I could clean pluck them for the scenes.

We have a hand-double in to do the close-ups so that Tao Okamoto (Chiyo) doesn’t have to pluck and chop. Unfortunately, when it’s time for me to teach the hand-double actor how to handle the pheasants, we discover she has a bird phobia and can’t do the scene. So, in a moment of desperation, I am asked to stand in and the make-up woman applies her magic brushes my hands. Happily, the decision is made to shoot these another day and I can go back to food styling.

Tossed and Shot
There is much ado with getting the plucked feathers to float through the air and drift downward aesthetically. But nothing compared to the film magic applied to give pheasant dummies flight so they can be “shot” down by Chiyo. The prospect of rigging fake birds to soar like eagles is sobering, hilarious and tragic all at once. Tossing pheasants for a shoot seems like a scene from Monty Python. But it's all accomplished beautifully by our amazing 2nd Unit team who does all the iconic Hannibalistic “close-ups” and “inserts” such as blood seeping and engines combusting.

Chiyo's kitchen

And what became of Dimmond’s arm which was cut off so its stump could be shape into an aorta for the giant Heart murder tableau in the Chapel? Do I hear the dinner bell?

Yes, Hannibal is cooking again! 

Hannibal chopped the forearms and lower legs off Dimmond to make his heart murder tableau. So now he has these leftover limbs and Bryan Fuller wants to know what Hannibal can cook from an arm. I wanted to allude to the pheasant/feather motif in the script and suggest that he cure Dimmond's arm into a ham that would then be carved into feathers that could be reassembed into a wing and presented on a big silver tray.

Mads chopping Dimmond's arm
The way the scene was to be shot, we had to show Hannibal chopping the hand off the arm then curing it and carving it. So Francois Dageneau, the insanely talented prosthetic maker, and I decided between us who would provide what for which steps in the cooking process.
My grisly reshaping of a pork hock into a man's forearm for the arm-ham curing scenes 

The convo was something like this: FG: I’ll send you a severed arm… with a hand attached. Me: I’ll make some forearms out of pork for the curing scenes…FG: do you want some human skin with that? I could send you a few sheets. Me:  Yeah, OK. That would be good to have as a backup if I can’t stitch the pig skin back on.
Cleaver, arm carved from ham and prosthetic arm
I know the RCMP have not tapped my phone because they would have brought me for this conversation alone.

Arm Ham Wing concept art (fragment of concept sketch)

Ham feathers assembled into wing with nest of asps made from asparagus of course.
(fragment of on-set continuity photo)

All this complicated cooking calls for refreshments

Thank God there was something to drink after the Arm-Ham Wing. We made coupes of Punch Romaine. This is the cocktail that was served on the last voyage of the Titanic. Seems fitting to serve it to Sogliato before he is sunk.

Punch Romaine 

Snails and Fireflies

DYK: The main predator of snails is firefly larvae. Do not Google this -- the photos are horrifying. Mother Nature is ruthless. Just think: fireflies are enchanting and snails are cute.

Time for a "Cute Snail" break thanks to these pix tweeted to me by Patricia@Polanetta.

photo by Vyacheslav Mishchenko
photo by Vyacheslav Mishchenko
OK, stop the cuteness. (or check Mischenkos FB for more) Back to the top of the food chain with Hannibal.

I had made a dozen marzipan snails so Chiyo's “Caged man” could eat the whole snail, shell and all as called for in the script.  But snails are slow – so slow, they got stuck in traffic and didn’t make it to the sound stage in time for the shot.  They had to film the shot another way as my marzipan snails sat in a box in the delivery guy's van as it crept along the highway in rush hour traffic.

Marzipan snails

Hanging around the abattoir

Spent the morning poking around the abattoir amid a mountain of meat, selecting sides and butts and shoulders to stand in for Sogliato’s skinned carcass from which he draws the Quinto Quarto.
OK...starting to feel like becoming a vegetarian

Not whistling while we work

Lungs a-fryin’ and whistling a “sibilo caratteristico”. Or not. We fried and fried those things and no whistle. Maybe they have to be from Italy. Or maybe they were lungs only dogs can hear.  But we pushed on. They will have to add the whistle in post production. Served the Caratella con carciofi – the liver, lung and heart of “lamb” on skewers. Professor Sogliato was no lamb but he was certainly skewered.
non-whistling lungs

And Bedelia keeps eating oysters

Like Botticelli's Aphrodite on a Half-shell...
Here's a Giant Oyster I made out of rice flour dough for close-up. It fit into an abalone shell.

While all await their fate next week, why not eat!

This week in Hannimeals

Ornella M of Poupou Kitchen in Toulouse made this exceptional Truite saumonee au bleu from Season 2

Lots more sketches and food and behind-the-scenes shots

..but I'm saving them for the Hannibal cookbook...see you next week after Episode 4!

All content copyright of Janice Poon/Feeding hannibal except where noted.
Reproduction without permission prohibited.


  1. My God, I was already amazed by the arm ham in what we saw of the episode, but that oyster, I can't believe you made that! And out of food! I'm a sculptor and painter, and I know some of the most difficult things to reproduce are natural patterns, and the delicate fringe on that're a wizard. Possibly an evil wizard, I googled the snails and fireflies, but still, a wizard.

  2. Oh, oh, does one carve to achieve those feathered cuts? Father's day is coming, and my pheasant hunting papa would adore this. Is there some carving book out there?

    1. Ooo - maybe too late for Father's Day - but just in case: As a sculptor, you will be able to do this. The main thing is to have a very sharp knife and a well-cured ham - Uncured meat is bit too soft to carve easily. Parma ham (or jamon iberico, which I used) has that nice runs of fat that give feather-like colouring. I think it's too hard to explain without pictures so I will try to post some sketches in a few weeks. Maybe in time for another of your Father's special occasions.

      I made this wing up just for Hannibal -- I don't know if you would be able to find a book on carving feathers from meat. But I think you could get a similar effect with very thin long (feather shaped) slices of meat.

  3. might be a better link for the "cute" snail photos. Thanks for the google warning!

    So sad about the marzipan snails being caught in traffic... so much work! And so gorgeous!

    1. Thanks for the link. Aren't those snail photos of his wonderful? We think snails are so icky sliming around but they are lovely tiny curious delicate creatures.

      As for my MIA snail, there is so much work that we all do that goes unseen. I feel fortunate that the food gets as much screen time as it does. Most shows, all you ever see is the fork coming to the mouth of the actor as he/she pretends to eat the food.

  4. Do you know when we can expect your book to be released? I am far too giddy about this :)

    1. You never know until the publisher says "Run it". Right now, Titan is saying Fall of 2016. So that's what I'm working toward.

  5. Just caught up with the series, and I must say your work on the food is superb. Thanks for inspiring all the aspiring culinary designers out there!!

    Going forward, what other kinds of food would you like to showcase on Hannibal? Perhaps a Malay-style satay with peanut sauce? A Chinese bak kut teh of pork ribs in herbal soup?

    1. With Hannibal you never know. I'd love to do more Asian food. And satay is so delicious! He should do Bak Kut Teh - he must have a lot of left-over ribs in his freezer. And a good hot soup would be nice!

  6. You just said the magic words - Hannibal Cookbook! I hope even if there won't be a season 4, you'll still get to put that book out! I'd love to see it!

    1. Not sure Titan will feel motivated to publish my cookbook if a new broadcaster cannot be found for Hannibal. So here's hoping! (as someone tweeted, "Fingers crossed - not all my own")

  7. If cookbook still in progress, I think, it will be also interesting to add recipes from the original books about Hannibal.

    1. That's a great idea and would add anther layer to my cookbook but Thomas Harris still holds the cookbook rights to his material so I will only include recipes for the meals I made for Bryan Fuller/NBC's Hannibal. But I want to include a lot of vegetarian recipes so there will be lots to work with - if the publisher decides to go ahead with it.

  8. Oh it's been so long since I was confused by the coratella scene. Pretty sure whole lungs don't whistle. You'll need to dice them to get the effect.