When concerned mother, Chris (Ellen Burstyn), unsuccessfully seeks medical help for her seemingly sick daughter, Regan (Linda Blair), she desperately turns to the help of two priests to save her daughter. Released in 1973, The Exorcist is one of the greatest and most unnerving horror films of all time, as well as marks the third installment of the October horror series here on food & a film.
A little over twelve minutes into the film, we are presented with the first food moment as Chris walks into the kitchen and greets housekeeper, Willi (Gina Petrushka), who is frying eggs and bacon on a massive griddle. Chris then proceeds to pour herself a cup of coffee before taking a carton of milk out of the fridge and adding a splash to her cup.
At the end of the day, when Chris returns home, we see Chris’ assistant/Regan’s tutor, Sharon (Kitty Winn), eating an apple while tapping the keys of a typewriter. Following this apple moment, Chris fixes herself a glass of sherry in the study before she is greeted by Regan. After Regan fills her mother in on the day’s events, she appears to take a piece of candy from a lidded jar, and is then chased by Chris, who playfully tries to wrestle the candy away from her.
The next notable food moment in the film comes when Father Karras (Jason Miller) visits his mother in New York City. Father Karras is seated at a dining table with several dishes in front of him. The main dish appears to be some type of soup or gravy, which Father Karras then dips pieces of bread into. The other dishes on the table include a plate of bread, a small bowl of olives, and a plate of soft cheese that appears to have several olive pits on its edge.
Another notable food scene is during the party Chris hosts at her residence. In addition to passed hors d’oeuvres and plenty of cocktails, there are bowls of what looks like soup or chili on plates with bread and lettuce.
In additional to the food-related moments mentioned above, there are quite a few beverage-related moments in the film including Father Merrin’s (Max von Sydow) drink in northern Iraq, Father Karras having a beer with Reverend Tom (Thomas Bermingham) at a local Georgetown bar, the bottle of Chivas Regal Father Dyer (William O’Malley) brings to Father Karras, Chris and Lt. William Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb) talking over coffee, Chris pouring Father Karras a scotch with water, and later, bringing Father Merrin a cup of coffee and asking, “Would you like some brandy in that, Father?” to which he replies, “Well, the doctors say I shouldn’t, but thank God…my will is weak.”
For my vegan pairing menu for The Exorcist, I ultimately chose to include split pea soup, along with Devil’s Food cookies (get it?!), and a cup of coffee since it is such a heavily featured beverage in the film.
A scene that I have failed to mention thus far, which is technically food-related, is a scene that contains one of the most memorable moments in the film. This scene, of course, is where Regan projectile vomits split pea soup at Father Karras. Interestingly enough, the substance used for the vomit effect was Andersen’s Split Pea Soup, mixed with a little bit of oatmeal. Apparently Campbell’s Soup was tried as well; however, the crew preferred the effect when Andersen’s Soup was used. While it is unclear if Regan consumed a meal of split pea soup offscreen before purging it onto Father Karras, or if the purging was meant to be a demonic behavior unrelated to Regan’s diet, split pea soup made it onscreen nonetheless. While many would be completely grossed out by the moment and lose their appetite entirely, I contrarily decided to pay homage to this nauseating moment by including split pea soup with a garnishing of croutons on my film-inspired menu.
Finally, for the table setting, I found a vintage floral fabric—inspired by Regan’s nightgown—to use as a tablecloth. I also made sure to include an arrangement of pink roses, which are similar to the pink rose that Chris brandishes during the piano-side sing-along towards the end of her party.
And that does it for this week’s pairing as part of the October horror series here on food & a film! Until next week!