Today is a sad day for roughly 2.5 to 3.0 million TV fans. Tonight marks the series finale for NBC’s Hannibal, the best thing on television since its debut in 2013 (despite rumors to the contrary, it seems Hugh Dancy’s recent casting as the lead in The Way, a forthcoming Hulu series, means Hannibal’s resurrection is unlikely). If you are one of the lonely Hannibal fans– who, after 11 PM EST tonight, will be floating out in the pop-culture ether searching for something as grotesquely gorgeous as Hannibal–please know that you aren’t alone. But if you are one of the millions upon millions upon millions of people who didn’t watch Hannibal–despite my desperate plea–know that the weight of every Fannibal’s sorrows rests solely on your shoulders.
But let’s not spend time deciding who among you is a Fannibal and who is a malevolent pop-culture turn-coat. Instead, I’d like to commemorate some of Hannibal’s best “That-Doesn’t-Look-Like-Any-Kind-of-Tender-Loin-I’ve-Ever-Seen” Moments. I present to you (with the help of Hannibal’s food-stylist Janice Poon, who runs Feeding Hannibal, an excellent blog about how one goes about being a food-stylist on Hannibal) the Top 7 “Foodie” Moments on NBC’s Hannibal:
7. Lung and Loin Bourguignonne, Season 1, Episode 1 “Apéritif”
The first meal prepared on Hannibal, way before Hannibal’s predilections were made known to Will (Dancy), Jack (Laurence Fishburne) or anyone else at the FBI. It’s not a flashy meal, but by filming Hannibal’s meals with the same eerie fever-dream tone as the show’s gory death tableaus, creator Bryan Fuller establishes that there’s something amiss when Hannibal picks up a knife and fork. The dish is traditionally prepared from veal, and though it takes Dr. Lecter (and the show itself) some time to acknowledge where exactly Hannibal’s meat comes from, it’s evident in episode one that there’s something quite different about this cut of veal.
6. Kholodets, Season 2, Episode 12 “Tome-Wan”
This is a dish that always stuck with me; a gelatinous mold of meats and liquids that ends up looking as appetizing as it does gruesome (with or without people parts in it). As Janice Poon describes it in her blog, Kholodets is a mixture of chicken (stewed until the meat falls straight off the bone) and mixed into a jelly made up of veal shanks and pork hocks. I wonder if an Abel-Gideon hock would substitute?
But it wasn’t Will, Jack or Dr. Lecter himself who were treated to the best meal in “Tome-Wan”; instead, it was Will’s dogs, who gorged on a meal specially prepared by Hannibal: Mason Verger’s (Michael Pitt) face…
(Seems like those dogs got to live out the fantasy of every person who has ever worked with Michael Pitt. Allegedly.)
5. Frederick Chilton Nigiri, Season 3, Ep 12 “The Number of the Beast is 666”
Okay, okay, this one is a bit of a cheat. It’s not a prepared meal. There’s no beautiful display. Hannibal is locked up and no longer has access to his fully equipped kitchen. But when life gives you lemons (or when a serial killer mails you the lips of a rude psychiatrist) you have to make lemonade (or keep one of the lips and when the guards aren’t looking scarf that thing down, because it’s been three long years since you’ve had a people-meal):
4. Roast Veal, Season 1, Episode 2 “Amuse-Bouche”
In the early days, Dr. Hannibal Lecter was a real mensch; always there to lend a helping hand to Jack Crawford or a sympathetic ear to Will Graham. Sometimes he would even have his new friends over for dinner. The first time Jack Crawford is treated to a Hannibal Lecter meal is in episode two of season one, when Hannibal invites Jack to his home to discuss the Chesapeake Ripper, the mysterious and depraved serial killer terrorizing the greater-Baltimore area, over a nice roast veal. Looks delicious! Though I’ve never seen a Raspberry based-sauce in such a vibrant shade of red.
3. Rack of “Lamb”, Season 2, Ep. 13 “Mizumono”
Perhaps the most beautiful dish on this list, Bryan Fuller dreamt up this “Sacrificial Lamb” as one of the last meals Hannibal ever shares with Will Graham. The “steeple” of ribs as Janice Poon puts it (seriously, read her blog) is one of the more thematically appropriate foods, as Will must weigh his amorphous allegiance to Hannibal with the life of his friends at the FBI, specifically Jack Crawford. And it’s a good thing this meal is so beautiful, because we all know what happened the next time Hannibal tried to cook for someone at the FBI…
2. Hannibal’s Dinner Party, Season 1, Ep. 7 “Sorbet”
This is (quite literally) a whose-who of a dinner party. While Jack Crawford and the FBI are twisting themselves into knots looking for the Chesapeake Ripper; Hannibal has a good ole fashion Harvest Fest, taking bones, organs and meats from a number Marylanders in order to throw one hell of a dinner party.
And dishes? Well there’s too many to name, let’s just take a look at a few of Hannibal’s Dinner Party Specialties.
I’ve been a vegetarian for a little over a year. I wonder if I’d be invited to a Dr. Lecter dinner party?
Oh well, that pork loin looked a little weird, anyways.
1. Abel Gideon’s Leg Baked in Clay, Season 2, Episode 6 “Futamono”
Perhaps the most abberant of all of Hannibal’s recipes, Dr. Lecter seperates serial-killer Abel Gideon from his thigh and proceeds to bake it in clay. This recipe takes the top spot, not just for being one of the more supremely immoral dishes, but for the technical precision it takes to encase a side of “beef” in clay. And it doesn’t hurt that the final dish is one of the most beautifully photographed in the show’s brief run.
Let’s crack that bad boy open and get a good luck at the man-thigh inside:
And Hannibal Lecter isn’t a selfish chef. He made this dish for company. Specifically, Abel Gideon himself, who devours his own appendage with reluctant curiosity:
I hope this list helps to east the pain. As of tomorrow, Hannibal may be gone but his dishes will be seared into our collective minds forever. And as for NBC and the throngs of you that refused to watch the best show on television, well you’ve all been quite rude. And we all know what happens to those who are rude…
PCB has more Mads Mikkelsen here: Review: Men and Chicken