Editorial Note: This is a replacement video since the original video curated, and discussed below, was recently made private by NBC, as were all Hannibal vids produced by the network.
As a programme with a cannibalistic gourmand as its titular character Hannibal has, unsurprisingly, presented an assortment of beautiful dishes across its three seasons on NBC. The lavish presentation of meals contributed to the programme’s unique aesthetics as well as provoking simultaneous feelings of attraction and disgust in viewers; this food and drink may look inviting but it’s probably made from people. Even the beer.
Food stylist Janice Poon was responsible for designing and realising the menus, a process detailed in her blog Feeding Hannibal which featured sketches of the dishes, details of how they were created (quite often the food couldn’t actually be what it was meant to be, forcing Poon to create edible songbirds from marzipan or lung from Italian sausage), and recipes. The blog also included fan photos of recreations of Poon’s recipes or fan-designed homages to Hannibal, referred to as Hannimeals. Although many activities of Hannibal’s fans (or, “Fannibals”) have been acknowledged, more seldom explored is how the creation and consumption of food and drink related to a fan object offer avenues for connection, participation and pleasure. For example, Harry Potter fans have the opportunity to drink Butterbeer at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. However, for Fannibals recreating the dishes themselves provides an affective and imaginative connection; the act of finding and purchasing the right ingredients and following a recipe to completion offers a physical connection to the show by allowing fans to follow in Hannibal’s culinary footsteps. Equally, inventing their own dishes offers imaginative opportunities for fans inspired by the show’s emphasis upon the gourmet, allowing the invention of thematic dishes decorated with edible blood spatter or shards of glass.
The opportunities for themed cooking are clearly not applicable to all fandoms. However, the importance of edible content to fans is worthy of further study, whether this includes officially licensed products such as Butterbeer or fan-created meals inspired by shows like Hannibal. In responding to the importance of the culinary in the series and seeking to recreate it, these fans are quite literally ingesting it. Hannibal would approve.