Friday, 5 June 2015

Hannibal S3 Ep1 Antipasto

Your crumpled paper heart

Too thin and dry.

To break this angry heart of flesh and bone. 

So stitch the present with the past

And stay my heart.

A  mend. 

To beat again.


And so It Begins...again 

September. It’s after midnight and a message pops up on my screen:  “So excited to be discussing cannibalism with you all! We have a whole body and we can serve up any piece we want!”

No, it’s not a satanistic chat room I have accidentally dropped into. It’s my first email from Bryan Fuller since Hannibal got renewed for Season 3.

The sound stage has been dark for five months but will spring to life as we begin to shoot Season 3

“ONE LEG, TWO ARMS” exclaims the next email. (Bryan often speaks in capslock) “Three different dishes and any and all food anecdotes welcome!”

“to whom?...alone?” is the response cc’d immediately from Jose Andres – disjointed as the limbs we are considering. It’s wee hours at his fabled ThinkFoodGroup in Washington DC – or is he emailing from a chifa in Peru?

Bryan replies, “ Like Gideon has stumbled into a strange fairy tale and Hannibal is the Wicked Witch. How about Candied Thigh?” comes Bryan’s cheerful reply. He and Steve Lightfoot are emailing from the Writer’s Room where ideas are flying like “my pretties” over Oz.

I put my food stylist hat on and think...of Saurbrauten, pork braised with gingersnap spices. And Ground Hansel and Gretel Meat Pie. Lame, I know. But a flash of inspiration: what would work - braised pork belly, a yummy rich northern Chinese dish and so I email a photo of Candied Pork Belly with Sugar Cane to Bryan and Jose. 

Northern Chinese style soy-glazed pork belly inspired Gideon's "Pinhead the Cenobite" leg roast
In a 5am email, a rush of words from Jose: “…follow me to Wadsworth Athenea...Guiseppe Archimboldo painting…reproduce his head in vegetables…big table, beautiful shot. Little prince in the Sahara…why doesn’t Hannibal bury him in the bathtub with music like the walkiries…Fingers in a sweet sauce…Hannibal serves Gideon with chopsticks…bones spit into a copper Tibetan bowl that rings out … like the last sound the body makes in death…”

A smile breaks across my face and I plunge into the rushing river of madness that is Hannibal.

In my kitchen studio turning double loins of pork into Whole Roasted People Leg

Land this plane, Bedelia...

If the first episode is titled Antipasto we must be in Italy. Florence to be exact. Home to Il Mostro, the Museum of Atrocious Torture Instruments and now, the Bride of Hannibal.

Well, some people are in Florence.

Not me.

Evidently, there are people in Italy who can cook. So they don’t feel the need to bring me along from Toronto while they are filming in Florence. Che cavolo!

Our little bit of faux Florence right in the middle of Etobicoke

But of course, we are shooting much of series in Toronto. So this, my third season as Hannibal’s food stylist, gets off to a flying start. There is a lot of food in the first four episodes and half-way into reading the scripts I know I am going to need a flow chart.

Let’s see: fourteen flashbacks, two assumed identities, one character’s actor switch, snails lurking everywhere – and frankly, more wheelchairs and walking canes than I thought possible in one show.

Never mind. Focus on Episode 1. 

Slow-roasted leg of Gideon: Bryan wants to see the w-h-o-l-e leg. He gleefully imagines the scene:

So I do up a sketch, make up a shopping list and lay in an order for 18 double loins of pork which I jam into my fridge which is already filled to the max. Then the careful work of trimming, shaping, tying, wrapping, inserting bones and roasting.

My fridge loaded up to the max with thighs and calves and arms and hocks

But Hannibal's fridge is empty -- so who's doing all the work here?

Thanks to my pal at Powders for Texture, who has given me a couple of packages of transglutaminase (charmingly called meat glue by the food industry), the legs take shape nicely and I arrive at the studio with two whole legs and 5 extra thighs I can patch on for resets.  

The ankle bone is sticking out of the end of the leg. It's from a lamb shank

I’ve made candied apples and sugared fruit and garnished them with leaves made out of ground up gingerbread boys (myah ha ha) to create the Hansel-and-Gretel scent of a candy-cane gingerbread house. A scary salad of freakish looking vegetables (inspired by Oakley at Frieda’s who’s motto “Eat one fruit a day that scares you” are words to live by.)

Liver let die

Non amo te, Sabidi,
nec possum dicere quare:
Hoc tantum posso dicere,
non amo te.

This classic poem by Martial became perhaps more famous when an English schoolboy parodied it to taunt his professor:

I do not like thee Dr Fell
The reason why I cannot tell.
I only know and know full well
I do not like thee Dr Fell.

..and neither does Hannibal...altho he seems to like his liver. So we are cooking up a lot for this scene. Bags and bags of liver to find the perfect matching pieces for the first eating scene of Season 3.

Just some of the specimens we went through cooking for Dr Fell's liver scenes

It's a Snails Snails World

Snails nestled in halved Nautilus shells - nature's embodiment of proportional perfection: the Golden Mean
Then it’s on to the snail dish – first of many.

Jose had given so many wonderful ideas but we needed a recipe for arm. I had sent off a few thoughts –Peking Duck Arm that would require plenty of insult in the preparation: inflating, glazing with hot honey, drying, and roasting…or Arm Ham which would require salting and hanging. But these elicited no response – I could almost hear my emails fall short with a dull “thud” in Bryan’s inbox.

Then I remembered a detail about I heard about snails when I was loitering in an aquarium shop: some snails are meat-eaters. Eureka!

Hannibal could grind up G’s arm and feed it to the snails then feed the snails back to G. The food chain that eats itself like an Escher drawing! I’m scaring myself, that idea is so dastardly. 

I mention the ancient cochlear gardens where, since Roman times, various snail species have been raised in gardens with fruits and herbs that enhance their particular flavour. And that snails love to eat in groups so large that you can hear the rasping as they "chew" their way through lunch. I also throw in a factoid about the purple slime that some snails excrete when they are irritated. It makes a strong dye that gets deeper as it ages. Purple for the rich - since it takes a lot of angry snails to make enough dye to colour a 3-piece suit.

Studio is up and humming.

About the Bunnies

I was called in to do the food displays for the interiors of the Vera Dal shop and spent many hours decking the halls with stinky cheese and furry feathered game. Were you worried when you saw the drool of blood dripping from the bunny's nose in Vera Dal? That's what happens when game is hung. Because you hang them upside down, the blood naturally pools in the head and sadly drips from the nose. Which is why the head is often wrapped in paper. Also so you don't feel like mr bunny is staring at you accusingly as you lay him out for dinner.

Herb with bunnies and ducks hanging around waiting for their scene.

I’d love to show and tell you more but I have to save the goodies and the details for our forthcoming Hannibal cookbook – I’m sworn to secrecy by my publisher…

That’s also why I can’t give you any recipes.

It would make them all quite cross.

Last word goes to all who are made into a broken heart:

Tarot's 3 of Swords denoting Betrayal and also Pain of Separation (from his arm)

Next episode:

Goin' to the chapel and we're gonna get harried

OH, and yes...
You might wonder why there aren't any of my food sketches in this post. They're top secret stuff now until the cookbook comes out. So here's a sketch I did for Bryan Fuller's issue of Fangoria but the story didn't run, ergo neither my sketch. It's Dracula's dinner.

Dining with Dracula

One late entry! A Heart-you-Will Hannidinner!

A Hannibal-inspired tablescape featuring a big heart cake designed by Sprinklecakes. Made, displayed and shared here by Leah. She describes making it on her blog, I'll Make It

Close-up of the giant  heart  is made of fondant-covered chocolate cake!

All content copyright and property of Janice Poon/Feeding Hannibal. All photos except"heart cake" by Victoria Walsh/Feeding Hannibal.


  1. A cookbook! I am so excited!!! Your blog is one of my fave parts of watching the show, thank you for sharing these stories with us. :)

    1. Thank you John! I should be writing the cookbook right now - or at least testing recipes - but I'd rather be answering comments. It's so nice to back posting and reading your feedback.

  2. As soon as I saw that liver get sliced I couldn't wait to read your blog - I was hoping there'd be a picture just like this one with all the not-ready-for-primetime ones. Thank you so much for sticking with the blog!!!

    1. I know - we used SO much liver for that little scene. Three times I was ready to shoot with my bags of liver all sorted out and we didn't get to the scene. Then we had to reshoot because Mads was sick one day. Then we had to do close-ups another day...if I never have to buy another liver I will be fine with it.

  3. Ah - I popped over here last night and saw nothing from May 2014! I had a feeling *something* was in the works, and sent up a little prayer that you hadn't closed up shop.

    I shall pine for the recipes but look forward to the book.

    Which I want.


    1. There was so much food in the first episode it took me a few hours to get everything ready to post. Next time I will post right after the show - because there isn't any food in episode 2 so I'm just going to gripe about that and post some behind-the-scenes photos of other departments. And some stuff I'm doing right now for a Stephen King movie.

      Hope you love Season 3. Florence is so gorgeous and the Red Dragon is so gory-geous.

  4. So glad that you are back with your magically beautiful horrors of gastronomic abomination! I too, will pine for your upcoming book.. thank you for keeping up the blog :) Yea, it's back!!

    1. Thanx Alex - it's good to see you back too!

  5. This is one of my favorite blogs and my daily ritual after the episode airs. I've been a fan of both since the beginning.

    1. It's a favorite ritual of mine to vent my frustration via this blog and I thank you for being a kind and constant ear to SHOUT MY FRUSTRATION TO. Thank you Emily.

  6. Yay! I'm so glad this is continuing, I loved reading it last year!

    1. All this is putting a very big smile on my face. Thank you for the lovely welcome back!

  7. Snails munching on dead human flesh plays into Peter Greenaway's "A Zed and Two Noughts". Whether you intended the homage or not, I got a kick out of it.

    1. I must check out ZOO. I haven't seen it. Big homage to Greenaway' Cook, Thief etc etc coming up though in a later episode. I think you will enjoy it. I certainly enjoyed cooking it....

    2. Oh dear. I now have visions of roasted Alan Howard on a platter.

    3. I can tell you no more but you will love it when you see it...yes, Alan Howard as the Lover. And a young Helen Mirren as the Wife!

  8. So glad to see this post today! I only found you after last season's finale but was looking forward to reading a new post this season. A cook book sounds great, if you can get past the premise. :) Good luck to you and thanks for sharing the behind-the-scenes food goodies.

    1. I know i've said it before but I'll say it again - there are no people cooked here, people. I'm going to put a lot of vegetarian versions of Hannibal's dishes in too. I hope it will be fun to read as well as a cookbook everyone can use - except for Hannibal.

  9. Welcome back & happy cooking. Your stuff is awesome.

    1. Hi Joachim- Thank you!!! So nice of you to greet me on my first day back! Welcome back to you and happy cooking too!

  10. Welcome back, Janice!
    Thanks alot for sharing stories about inner kitchen Hannibal.

    I will wait when it will be possible to order book with recepies. But (may be) can you make some extra scetches only for the blog? I so miss them in text. They was great.

    Tomorrow we have seen first series. It was gloooomy. )

    Im not "cooking person" at all. But I have made 2 things based on your recepies. Skull salad (without skull =) and bread pudding.

    Will wait for new posts, recepies and books!

    1. I'm going to talk to my publisher about the sketches. They are being tweeted out by directors and producers who have them from when we were filming. So I don't see why I can't post them. Anyway, legal stuff.

      I love the photos of your skull-less salad and pudding! Going to post them coming episode if that's OK with you.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. After season one, I asked my old friend Chris Brancato how did they style the food so beautifully. He told me this fabulously talented gal did it all. After watching first ep of season 3, it was so arresting that I went in search of any blogs that might talk about it. The first one I opened was yours and I think I might have happened upon that very talented gal Chris told me about. What a treat to read about it. I recommended to my favorite food writer, Michael Ruhlman, to check out the show and now your blog. It is just simply fascinating.

    1. Thank you! And thanks to Chris for mentioning me in such a flattering light. I remember his work from the first 2 seasons and it was a privilege and pleasure to work with his scripts. I hope you enjoy Season 3 of Hannibal and come visit my blog now and again!

  12. It's wonderful to have you back, Ms. Poon. Too bad you will not be sharing any dish sketches or recipes this time, but having you also on Twitter more than makes up for it.

    I've never been a fan of scargot myself, but after watching your gorgeous work in ep. 301 I may be willing to give the dish another go one of these days. If Gideon tried them, I can too.

    1. Hi Javier!
      As Anthony Bourdain says, Everything tastes good with enough butter and garlic. Escargot Bourguignonne is no exception. And crusty French bread for mopping up the extra juice.

  13. Welcome Back Master ... I could not wait to see the news episodes . iam happy and very excited. Have you seen my version of " la truite saumonée au bleu" hope you like it... "Gros Bisoux" to you and the All Hannibal Team .
    Xo Ornella , Toulouse France.

    1. Ornella,
      Hmmm- I can't find your photo of truite saumonee au bleue Can you resend it to me at I'd love to post it on an upcoming blog.

  14. I'm so excited you and the show are back! We created a Hannimeal recently--an anatomical heart cake with a creepy floral arrangement. Can't wait to see what's next.

    1. I'd love to see the cake- it sounds fabulous but I imagine all that's left of your Hannimeal now is the smiles on your faces and the warm feeling in your tummies. If you make another Hannidinner, I'd love to see photos. Send them to me at and I'll post them in the next Feeding Hannibal!

    2. Thank you so much! I just emailed you. You are fabulous!

  15. Wow, good post! Well, I've decided to supply Meat Display Fridge in my country. Do you think it's ideal for meats?

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