Friday 26 June 2015

Episode 4

Is more

 Next to nothing.

 Save Hannibal.

Hannibal's empty kitchen cold and heartless - altho I think there is still some liver in the fridge...

Normally, I am fairly outraged when there aren’t any food scenes in a new Hannibal script. How is a food stylist supposed to deal with being left out of the fun and blood? And although this episode was all about how each of Hannibal’s victims fared since we last saw them bleeding out on Hannibal’s lawn, surely they had a snack or two in those intervening years. Other than hospital food.

Really, Writer’s Room. Just a pick-up of the Sacrificial Lamb dinner scene from last year? Really?

reheated from Season two - Sacrificial Lamb tastes as good as it did last year.

But given this week’s cancellation of Hannibal, one realizes that a Hannibal episode without food is a small complaint compared to No Hannibal Ever Again.

It's not over til it's over...

We always knew our beautiful show didn’t have the ratings for automatic renewal. But NBC did renew, in large part due to the outcry from Fannibals around the world. For two additional seasons, you amazing incredible Fannibals saved Hannibal. And now, you are doing everything you can to save him again. If you can it will be some resurrection!

antique cookbook from Katia, portrait by Lauren, plushie mini-me and baby wendi by Nancy, flower crown by TattleCrime and buttons, stickers, cards - sent to lucky me!

Working on this show has been fantastic but the most moving experience of all has been getting to know you – reading your tweets and comment and seeing your Hannimeals, your fabulous art, hilarious GIFS, generous praise – and occasional swag (thank-you for the lovely thoughtful presents you sent me!) You really are the most wonderful community on the internet.

Our Fearless Leader's winning ways 

 Although Bryan is doing a new series, Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”, he has said he foresaw no problem doing both shows and is very motivated to find a new home for Hannibal. Still actively looking for a broadcaster, he even hinted at the idea of a feature movie that would tell the final story of Hannibal and Will. And why not – Hannibal has quite the track record on the big screen.

Saturn Award to Bryan for Best Network Show (plus wins for Hugh for Best Actor and Lawrence for Best Supporting)

There are lots of extenuating circumstances and conflicting complications – like Hannibal’s current streaming agreement with Amazon which  disallows an arrangement with Netflix. And the very avid support of international distributors which, however strong, is contingent on the NBC deal. But anything is possible in the wacky world of Hollywood dealmaking. So we live in hope.

couldn't resist retweeting @hanni_candyman's Disco Hannibal "I will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor
(illustration by Omix)


Will Hannibal be saved? Who knows what the Fates have in store?

Mostly, we should remember – there is still so much more Hannibal on our plates this season. We still have 9 glorious episodes to thrill upon. Instead of drowning in the sadness of NBC's departure, we should relish the feast that is before us with all the love and keen attention we have always given this most deserving of shows.

Now serving Season 3 – Team Hannibal’s best effort yet.

The rest of Hannibal’s summer stretches out before us in all its splendor. Let’s pour the wine and dine!

(Dear assistants, Victoria @victoriaMwalsh and John @Crustcrumbs - if you are reading this, could you comment with a cocktail suggestion to boost our spirits?)

Feeding Fannibals one episode at a time. With love.

Next week:

Hannibal is really, really bad. Don't make sausages for dinner when you watch Episode 5.

Last word as always to you and your Hannidinners and Hannibal art.

Yuwei made this portrait, a jello brain and jello heart that looks just like the cover of Art of Hannibal!
It was for an art project and Tiny Hanni looks like he wants a slice!

Solya made this Sacrificial Lamb and blogged about it:

Hui at The Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC designed this Hannibal-inspired butcher paper for her art project 

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.

Thursday 11 June 2015

Episode 2 Primavera

Primavera pulse drumming in my head

Thrumming in my ear

Calling in the dark.


Louder than words. 

Hell hath no fury
Like a cannibal scorned.

Scoping, scanning…desperately searching for a food scene.

My life as a food stylist. Alas. As I read the latest script, my mind's eye rolls over stage directions for bodies tossed from towers, dead people revived, corpses revealed, and the blood of centuries coursing through catacombs. None of this captures my attention nor gives me pause. 

I re-read the script. There are several kitchen scenes but sorry, Ma’me, move along; nothing to see here: No cooking – just murder. *sigh*
Yes, that is the Botticelli sitting in the studio waiting for its closeup. Hoping there will not be blood spatter.

That Memory Palace thing of Hannibal's 

But blog I must, so in the interest of Hannibal Science, and in the absence of food, I’m giving you a “recipe” for how to make your own Memory Place. Like Hannibal’s but (I trust) less bloody and perhaps a bit less ostentatious.

For this, I go to my old beat-up copy of “The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci”, Jonathan Spence’s account of the life of Matteo Ricci in 16c. China. It was Ricci who wrote, in Chinese, “The Art of Memory” in an attempt to teach Christianity to the upper class of Chinese society.

Just what you always wanted -- directions for your own Memory Palace

Here’s the How-To in a nutshell:

1. Imagine a building such as a temple or a reception hall. Visualize it and, in your mind's eye, walk through it, taking note of the details of the building and its contents. Spence recommends starting with a modest palace – you can add rooms and buildings to your Palace compound as necessary. It can be a real place, such as Hannibal’s chapel or totally fictitious.

2. Visualize the thing or event you want to remember.

3. Place that visual memory a location in your imagined “Palace” with a visual "key" or detail that relates to the memory.

4. Picture that memory in that location as vividly as you can. This is where that memory will reside. When you want to recall it, you mentally picture that particular place in your “Palace” and you will find the memory there, fully formed.

The “Memory Palace” system of recall can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans when, not having Google, they began to develop mnemonic systems to memorize plays, poems, grocery lists…

Here’s a simplified example: If you wanted to remember the Latin names of the bones of the upper body, imagine at the gate of your “Palace” a red-jacketed policeman on his horse with a handcuffed shirtless prisoner to the side. This will prompt the memory: Some Criminals Have Underestimated Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the first letters of the words yielding the correct list:  Scapula Clavicle, Humerus, Ulna, Radius, Carpals, Metacarpals, Phalanges.

This of course does not work for me because all I can ever picture is a garage full of umbrellas, right-hand gloves and keys.

And another foodless “recipe”: How to fold an origami heart

Alex Yue, origami artist, created the complex fold for Hannibal's heart in Episode 1. I love that he made it from the pages of a Thomas Harris book. He's working on a step-by-step for you which I will post right here in a few days so you can all make a heart for your valentine. (OK having technical difficulties but I promise I will find a compact way to post Alex's instructions. He says it's essentially a elongated "balloon" with two folded tubes inserted for veins/arteries.

Here’s a simpler one you can fold for now:

Called "Secret Heart" because it also doubles as a box that you can put messages (or tiny objects) in. I folded this one from a photocopy of a slab of meat that I trimmed into a square (what do you mean, you would rather use flowered giftwrap?)

Secret Heart origami I folded from a photocopy of meat. Touching and tasty.

And from the writers' room:

A snippet of Episode 2's script to show you how our writers can make us sigh, laugh and cry in just four sentences.

Now I cannot watch this scene without hearing the theme song from Bonanza. LMAO.

A few BTS shots from this episode:

There are people in this industry who are professional bubble-makers. Yes, that’s a job. We had two of them on set the day Victoria (my assistant) and I were doing liver close-ups. Pictured below is one of the bubble-makers practicing for a shot that will be reworked digitally to create the illusion of blood bubbling. Professional. Bubble. People. But they were probably looking at us and thinking : Jeez, they need TWO people to fry up one little piece of liver?
Boy and Bubble Wand hard at work

Here's a shot of me trying to get  quiet moment with my script. Your hapless reporter-from-the-set, photobombed by those hi-jinxing catacomb corpses.
It's dead quiet back here in Studio 2. 

Some of director Vincent Natali’s storyboards from Episode 1:

Stole these storyboards right off Twitter
(for the Sketch portion of this episode's blog post)

And NOW a few of your Hannidinners! YAY!! You're cooking again!!!

 Some of you cooked a special meal for the Premiere of Season 3 and shared them with me: 
Steve Yun, creative molecular gastronomist, cooked Foie and Figs; Sous-vide short ribs; Lomo Saltado; Chocolate & Blood Pudding and Watermelon Plasma Martinis

Jonatreed made these lovely dishes: skull-bone salad from Trou Normand (S2 episode 8) and tropical fruit bread pudding from Fromage (S2 episode 7)
This is only one of the spectacular cakes Annabelle de Vetten from Conjurer's Kitchen made for her film and food event for Hannibal's Season 3 Premiere in Birmingham. She also made the Wedding Cake for the London premiere. 

Here are some Hannidinners you sent me between seasons.

LexBo made this Hannibal-inspired plate but alas, no description. It looks fantastic! 

Pop and Soda created this lovely presentation of foie gras from Season 2 Episode 4

Justin 1 made this wonderful antler cake

Maisa cooked these very good looking High Life Eggs - a favorite from S1 Ep 4"Oeuf"

This imaginative interpretation of Beverly's shocking death tableau in S2 Ep5 Mukozuki was sent by a cupcake-loving cook and sugar artist Samantha Guinn in Australia

Teresa's blood-spattered menu of her Hannifeast and two of her gorgeous presentations below

Teresa's appetizers

Teresa's dessert

For those of you who miss my sketches (have to save some surprises for my Hannibal cookbook) Kelsy N made this collage from my sketches that she printed out from Season 1 and 2

I've got more images of devilish deliciousness that you sent between seasons but I'll post them on another day since there are a lot to sort.

I'd love to share your Hannidinner photos. Send images to me at

Next week: Pheasant is pleasant unless you're a peasant.

 All contents copyright of Janice Poon/Feeding Hannibal unless otherwise stated.

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.