When Marion Crane holds onto the $40,000 her employer instructed her to deposit in the bank, she skips town and while on the run, checks into a remote motel.
Psycho, following Rear Window and To Catch a Thief, is the third film directed by Alfred Hitchcock to be featured here on food & a film. An iconic film with a few notable food moments, Psycho is undoubtedly one of the best horror films of all time and since Halloween is just around the corner, it seemed like the ideal time to feature it.
The first food moment in Psycho occurs in the very first scene which takes place in a Phoenix hotel room on a Friday afternoon in late autumn. Marion Crane and her out-of-town lover, Sam Loomis are concluding a stolen lunch break when Sam points out that Marion never ate her lunch. The camera cuts to a shot of Marion’s untouched sandwich and unopened bottle of soda sitting on top of a nightstand. During their conversation, Marion proposes that they someday have a respectable dinner at her house with her sister helping her “broil a big steak for three.”
The second and most notable food moment in Psycho is when Marion Crane and Norman Bates have dinner together shortly after Marion arrives at the Bates Motel. When Marion first shows up during a rainstorm, Norman mentions that there is a big diner about ten miles up the road; however, when Norman senses that Marion is not going to go out again and drive to the diner, he invites her to join him for a simple dinner of sandwiches and milk.
Norman brings a tray down to the motel carrying a pitcher of milk, a stack of bread and a plate of sliced meat (ham according to the script), and leads Marion into the parlor, just off of the motel’s office.
Instead of constructing a classic sandwich, Marion first eats a piece of ham, which she cuts with a fork, before buttering a slice of bread and making an open-faced sandwich with another slice of meat, or possibly cheese. Norman leaves Marion to do all of the eating, and instead watches Marion eat her last supper, remarking that she eats “like a bird.” Before Marion departs the parlor to turn in for the night, Norman tells her he will bring her some breakfast in the morning; however, it is a promise he inevitably is unable to keep.
Psycho‘s third and final food moment of note is when Detective Arbogast arrives at the Bates Motel to find Norman sitting out on the motel’s porch eating “Kandy Korn” from a paper bag. The bag of candy makes another appearance in a later scene, and it would appear that based on his anxious candy consumption in these scenes, Norman is a nervous snacker.
When it came time to decide on a Psycho-inspired menu, I chose to recreate a version of Marion’s last supper; however, instead of preparing a vegan ham sandwich, I opted to make a vegan grilled cheese sandwich to pair with tomato soup. I figured a grilled cheese sandwich coupled with creamy tomato soup would be a considerably more desirable meal for a rainy autumn evening, as well as felt that the tomato soup’s blood-like hue was quite appropriate for the pairing.
To round out the meal, I included a pitcher of oat milk, and a paper bag filled with some vegan candy corn that I ended up making from scratch since candy corn typically contains either gelatin or beeswax.
Finally, for the place setting, I attempted to assemble a similar serving tray to the one in the film, as well as used a tablecloth that seemingly could have come from Mrs. Bates’ linen cabinet.
Thank you for tuning in for this latest installment of food & a film. Check back next week for another food & horror film pairing, just in time for Halloween!