The Godfather

A son reluctantly joins the family business.

Released in 1972, The Godfather, in addition to being my absolute favorite film in my mid-teenage years, is still one of my most cherished films ever. Seeing as we are entering the holiday season and mostly likely as a result, spending quality time with loved ones, I figured there was no better time to feature this family-centric classic on food & a film.

The first food or drink moment in the film occurs in the opening scene as Bonasera tells his story to Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brandon) and is given a shot glass full of clear liquid when he becomes overwhelmed with emotion. Bonasera pauses to take a sip from the glass before finishing his monologue, and during Don Corleone’s response, Don Corleone mentions, “I can’t remember the last time that you invited me to your house for a cup of coffee.” The film’s opening scene set in Don Corleone’s office takes place during Don Corleone’s daughter, Connie’s wedding reception, which is taking place outside. 

We then cut to the wedding reception where we see attendees with food and drink in the background. There are many food appearances during this reception sequence including Tessio picking up a citrus fruit (either a very large orange or small grapefruit) from the center of the table, as well as Clemenza taking a sip of sangria straight from the pitcher while he’s on the dance floor. We also hear a guy say to Paulie, “I got two gabagool, capocol, and a prosciut!” We then return to Don Corleone’s office where as Nazorine leaves the office, tells Don Corleone, “Wait till you see the beautiful wedding cake I made for your daughter.” At just about fourteen minutes into the film we see Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) sitting at a table with Kay Adams (Diane Keaton), eating. Michael asks Kay, “You like your lasagna?” During this scene we don’t see Kay’s plate, but we can see her fork moving. Throughout the other shots of the wedding reception we can see a giant platter of cookies, as well as a platter of citrus as the centerpiece of a dining table. A few minutes later when we make our way back to Michael and Kay’s table, there is a pitcher of wine or sangria and two filled glasses, as well as remnants of food on their plates. There is then a wine toast, and a few minutes later, the massive wedding cake makes an appearance.

The next scene to feature food or drink is when Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) and Jack Woltz have drinks in hand as they walk around Woltz’ property and visit his horse. Later that evening Tom and Jack sit down for dinner. There is a large bowl of oranges as a centerpiece on the table and although we can’t make out what they are eating, they both have plates of food and glasses of wine.

Following the dinner scene at Woltz’s, the next food moment on screen is when Sonny Corleone (James Caan) eats a nut during a scene with Don Corleone and Tom. Following this nut moment we get a few drink moments including Don Corleone sipping on some clear liquor, as well as him refilling Sollozzo’s glass, and Bruno Tattaglia offering Luca a “pre-war” scotch, but Luca declining.

We then see food again when Don Corleone goes to purchase some fruit at a fruit stand and when he is shot in the street, the oranges that he has purchased spill onto the ground as he falls.

There are then a few drink moments include Sollozzo taking a sip from a mug, Sollozzo giving Tom a small bottle and telling him to drink it, which Tom does, as well as Sonny telling Paulie to go have some brandy.

Following these drinks moments, we get one of the most iconic food lines in cinematic history. Immediately after the hit on Paulie has been carried out, Clemenza instructs Rocco to “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.,” and we see Clemenza walking away from the car with his box of cannoli (after all, his wife had told him earlier, “Don’t forget the cannoli!”)

The next scene to feature food or drink occurs in the Corleone kitchen where there are mob guys eating at the kitchen table and Clemenza is at the stove, cooking. Michael goes to get a glass of water from the tap and we can see bread, boxes of what looks like dry pasta, and cans of tomatoes in the kitchen. Clemenza then says to Michael, “Come over here, kid, learn something. You never know you might have to cook for 20 guys someday. You see, you start out with a little oil, then fry some garlic, then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it and make sure it doesn’t stick. You get it to a boil, you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs. Add a little bit of wine. And a little bit of sugar. That’s my trick.” Sonny then comes into the kitchen and rips a piece from a loaf of bread and goes to dip it in Clemenza’s bolognese sauce before we cut to the next scene.

There is then another scene with food when Kay and Michael are finishing dinner in a hotel room; there is definitely food on the table, but it is hard to make out exactly what the food is.

Following this scene in the hotel room, Michael goes to the hospital to visit his father and we see an unattended sandwich on a desk, accompanied by a pickle and a cup of soup, and well as a piece of marble cake. The soup looks piping hot, which tells us that the diner had recently abandoned their meal. 

After the hospital scene, the next time we see food onscreen is when Tom picks up a plate in the office that has food scraps on it, and just out of frame it appears that there are several plates just like it scattered throughout the office. After this moment in the office, we then get a scene with the boys all eating dinner together; Chinese takeout boxes, as well as soda and beer bottles litter the dining table.

Following this boys dinner, the next food scene is one of the most pivotal scenes of the film and occurs at Louis’ Italian American Restaurant where Michael is accompanied by McCluskey and Sollozzo. Upon the trio being seated, a server brings a green salad and wine over to the table. McCluskey asks Sollozzo, “How’s the Italian food in the restaurant?,” and Sollozzo says to Michael, “Try the veal. It’s the best in the city.” The server then pops the cork of a bottle of wine and pours wine into the three glasses. As Sollozzo talks to Michael we can barely make out a bread basket on the table, and we can see McCluskey taking bites of food although we can’t see what he’s eating. Let’s just say this scene unfolds a bit differently than the scene at Tony’s Restaurant in Lady and the Tramp!

The next appearance of food occurs directly following the scene at Louis’ Italian American Restaurant, where during a montage, we see men sitting around a dining table, eating. After this montage, the next food scene occurs at the Corleone household where the family sits down together for Sunday dinner. Ahead of the actual dinner scene we see Carmela Corleone with a casserole dish, as well as Connie putting a bread basket on the table and taking a piece for herself. Following dinner we see a fruit arrangement wrapped in cellophane with a bow in Don Corleone’s room. 

Meanwhile in Italy, we see Michael and his bodyguards stop at a café and have a drink. Then when Michael goes to meet the family of the woman he is interested in, there is a table with food on it, but it’s difficult to make out what the food is. Michael then goes out to a restaurant with his future in laws where they sit outside at a long dining table topped with lots of green glass bottles, drink glasses, a large pitcher filled with a citrus based drink, as well as plates of food. There is also a sequence during Michael’s wedding where he and his new bride serve something to their wedding guests (candy of some kind? possibly Jordan almonds?).

Then back in New York, Connie tells Carlo, “Dinner’s on the table.,” to which he replies, “I’m not hungry.” Connie responds to him saying, “The food is on the table, it’s getting cold.,” and when Carlo says, “I’ll eat out later.,” Connie reminds him, “You just told me to make you dinner.” A deeply upset Connie then sets about destroying the dinner she prepared.

Finally, the last food and drink moments in the film include Don Corleone taking a sip of Tom’s drink; Calo eating in a dark room; when Don Corleone and Michael are having a chat outside, Don snacks and drinks while telling Michael, “I like to drink wine more than I used to. Anyway, I’m drinking more.”; Don Corleone playing a trick on his grandson and using an orange peel to make a set of menacing teeth; Michael encouraging Carlo to have a drink and Carlo does; and lastly, Kay saying to Michael, “I guess we both need a drink. Come on.”

For my vegan menu inspired by The Godfather, I decided to prepare spaghetti bolognese topped with shredded parmesan. Then for dessert, even though we never see one on screen, you know I just had to include a cannoli!

I also chose to include an orange with the meal, seeing as oranges are very prevalent in the film and can usually be seen right before a death occurs. And for a beverage, I opted for some red wine, of course.

And finally for the table setting, I chose a white fabric for the tablecloth to match the white tablecloths at Louis’ Italian American Restaurant. I also decided to include a small arrangement of red roses, inspired by Don Corleone’s boutonnière from his daughter’s wedding.

And that does it for November’s installment of food & a film! Thank you so much for tuning in, and be sure to check back next month for the final entry for 2021!

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