Adventurous archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) must find the omnipotent Ark of the Covenant before it falls into the wrong hands.
Released in 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark marks the first film of the Indiana Jones franchise; yet, it was the franchise’s second film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom that was first featured on food & a film. While Temple of Doom was selected first mainly for its iconic banquet scene, the film is actually a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark so we could just say that we’re going in order of events here on the blog. While Raiders of the Lost Ark does not contain as elaborate of a food sequence as its prequel, it does have a rather satisfying amount of food & drink moments, and since it is ultimately my favorite of all the Indiana Jones films, it felt like it was finally time to feature it.
The film’s very first food moment comes almost a full fifteen minutes in when one of Professor Jones’s students leaves him a Granny Smith apple on his desk at the end of class. Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) as he is catching up with Dr. Jones, picks the apple up off Indy’s desk and proceeds to rub it on the sleeve of his jacket. After rubbing the apple on his arm for a bit, Marcus goes to take a bite of the apple; however, as he brings the apple up to his mouth, he pauses, and instead, pockets it. Later that evening, Marcus joins Indy at his house to deliver some good news and the two toast with champagne.
A couple of minutes further into the film, we are transported to a bar in Nepal where a drinking game is in progress. During this sequence we are introduced to Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), the bar owner, as well as one of the game’s contenders who swiftly becomes the victorious competitor by drinking her opponent under the table until he falls back in his chair. Later in the evening when Marion’s bar is under attack, a bullet passes through a wooden keg causing a stream of alcohol (probably wine?) to flow from it. Marion then proceeds to dip her open mouth into the path of the streaming liquid for a drink of courage of sorts before clubbing one of the perpetrators on the head. Additionally, further into the scene when Indy is being held down on the bar by an assailant, he asks Marion for whiskey, and after she hands him a bottle of Johnnie Walker, he uses it to smash against the head of his attacker.
Following the bar scene in Nepal, the next sequence to feature food or drink occurs when Indy and Marion arrive in Cairo and join Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and his family on their rooftop. Indy, Marion and Sallah are all drinking a wine-like beverage before we cut to a shot of a monkey guarding a fruit basket filled with what looks like plums and some type of greenish yellow citrus fruit. Indy and Sallah then sit at a table and Indy begins to cut one of the citrus fruits with a knife as Sallah’s wife pours them more of the wine-colored drink. The next appearance of food following this rooftop scene occurs when Indy and Marion are at a marketplace. When Indy offers Marion a date, Marion asks, “What’s this?,” to which Indy replies, “It’s a date. You eat ’em.” A few moments later we see Indy and Marion walking down a corridor of the marketplace as Marion chomps on another date.
The final appearance of dates in the film, which is without a doubt the most iconic cinematic date moment in film history, happens when Indy almost ingests a poisoned date. At the beginning of the sequence we see a kitchen table topped with various bowls and plates of food including a large bowl of dates, freshly poured from a colander. Once the person preparing the food leaves the kitchen, a man with an eye patch surreptitiously enters from the back door and pours a small vile of presumably poison onto the dates. Moments later, the dates are then brought out on a tray, along with a decanter of wine and some glasses for Indy and Sallah. Indy takes a date, however, whenever he goes to eat it, he is coincidentally distracted in various ways, and we instead see the monkey snacking on one of the dates, uninterrupted. Eventually, Indy throws his date up into the air, but right before it falls into his mouth, Sallah catches it in mid-air and looks to the floor. We then cut to a shot of the monkey, dead on the floor with at least one date beside him. Sallah looks from the monkey, to his hand holding the date, to Indy, and simply says, “Bad dates.” Then following this epic movie line, we are graced a gorgeous Hitchcockian high-angle shot of the ceiling fan slowly spinning above the dead monkey on the floor, and the bowl of deadly dates nearby on a table along with Indy’s fedora and whip.
Following this deadly date scene the next and final food moment in the film comes when Marion receives her first meal after being taken prisoner. After a server brings food to the tent where she is being held, René Belloq (Paul Freeman) motions to the dining table and tells Marion, “Please, eat something.” Marion then begins to devour the food, first beginning with what looks like a thick slice of bread (possibly eish shamsi, a sourdough bread popular in Upper Egypt?), before moving on to what looks like a large piece of white cheese (maybe domiati or areesh cheese?). On the table there is also a fruit plate clearly containing at least two green apples, as well as possibly some grapes and a banana. Once Marion has had some food, Belloq brings out a bottle of what appears to be some type of distilled liquor for the two of them to enjoy, and although Marion never gets a direct answer when she asks, “What is this stuff, René?,” Belloq does tell her, “I grew up with this. It’s my family label.”
Lastly, there are a few additional food or drink moments in the film worth mentioning including Indy being thrown intro a citrus fruit stand (pomelos?) during the marketplace attack, Indy grief drinking at the marketplace following said attack, and lastly, Nazi officer, Dietrich, offering Belloq a drink to toast their success in the desert, to which Belloq instead suggests that they toast later, “when we are very far from here.”
For my vegan Raiders of the Lost Ark pairing menu, since a pivotal part of the film is set in Egypt, for the main dish, I decided to prepare Kushari, which is Egypt’s national dish, and also happens to be naturally vegan! I also included a side of pita because why not.
Then, to accompany the Kushari and pita, I added a few fruit options since there were quite a few featured in the film. For my fruit selection, I included a grapefruit (a nod to the elusive yellow citrus heavily featured in several Cairo scenes), as well as some grapes (a common Egyptian fruit), and of course, no Raiders of the Lost Ark-themed menu would be complete without some dates!
Then for beverages, I decided to include a glass of hibiscus tea (a popular drink in Egypt), as well as a shot of a clear spirit as a nod to the mysterious distilled liquor with Belloq’s family label on it that he and Marion drink.
Finally, I found a vegan leather fabric to use for the tablecloth as a nod to Indy’s iconic leather jacket and bullwhip.
And that does it for this month’s installment of food & a film! Thank you so much for reading, and be sure to check back next month for a new entry. Until then!