Chianti, meds and Hannibal Lector

When on-screen cannibal Hannibal Lector uttered his most quotable line about eating a man’s liver with “fava beans and a nice Chianti”, his food and wine matching choice was very deliberate.

thesilenceofthelambs3100711The line refers to a very particular set of foodstuffs that are prohibited when taking a certain medication designed to treat depression or stabilise violent mood swings.

The malevolent yet oddly charming Lector played by Sir Anthony Hopkins stole the show in the Oscar winning 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs. Initially introduced to help the film’s protagonist, Clarice Starling, catch a serial killer, Lector offers a number of choice morsels of dialogue throughout; but it is a line when the two first meet that helped make the sociopath a screen icon.

Trying to unsettle Starling and to test her nerves he casually remarks: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti,” followed by an unsettling sucking of his teeth. It was recently noted on Reddit that Lector might, at one time, have been prescribed monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Often used as a last resort because of their side effects, MAOIs inhibit the body from correctly breaking down dietary amines. When foods with high levels of tyramine (a monoamine compound) – including liver, wine and other alcohol, aged cheese and beans – are ingested it can lead to hypertension and irreversible organ damage.

As a qualified psychiatrist, Lector would be well aware of this and is, in his own way, joking that he hasn’t been taking his medication.

He is also vainly alluding to the urbane sophistication that underlies his ghoulish tendencies. In the book, interestingly, Lector says he paired an Amarone with the liver. However, it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Chianti does.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Marketing Manager

Amathus Drinks Plc
London, UK

Partner Manager - Managed On-Trade

Maverick Drinks
London, UK

Brand Manager

Hatch Mansfield
Ascot, Berkshire

Events Sales Executive

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Head of Sales

IWSC
London, UK

Logistic and Fullfilment - Whisky (and wine) administrator

Stilnovisti Ltd
London, United Kingdom // Dufftown, Keith, United Kingdom

Account Manager

Harviestoun Brewery
Field Based, UK

Buyer - Spain & South America

Enotria&Coe
London, UK

Events Sales Manager

Enotria&Coe
Field based - London or surrounding area

IBWSS China

Shanghai,China
5th Nov 2018

Exploring Beaujolais Wines Across The Years & Appellations

Manchester,United Kingdom
6th Nov 2018

Pink Rosé Festival

Cannes,France
7th Feb 2019
Click to view more

Green Awards 2018

Deadline : 19th October 2018

Rioja Masters 2018

Deadline : 26th October 2018

Click to view more

The Global Sparkling Masters 2018

As with all of the drinks business awards, our judging panel is comprised of Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers and senior buyers making the competition globally renowned.

Champagne Masters 2018

Enter your wines into the Champagne Masters 2018, the only blind competition dedicated to Champagne in the UK.

Click to view more