Monday, May 13, 2013

Seattle(pi): How to Cook a Human with Hannibal's Bryan Fuller and Chef Jose Andres by Sadie Gennis

Hannibal is without a doubt the most appetizing scripted show on television, all thanks to creator Bryan Fuller and culinary consultant Chef Jose Andres. The showrunner and chef spoke to about how they make human meat look so tasty and what sets Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelson) apart from your average cannibal.

When Fuller got the opportunity to do Hannibal, Andres was one of the first phone calls he made. In fact, the famed chef isn't just the show's culinary consultant - he helped inspire the small-screen adaptation of the titular cannibal! "I had seen [Andres] talk about food and how passionate he was and articulate he was ... and he had such an enthusiasm that I thought Hannibal Lecter should have a similar passion for food that Jose had," Fuller told While most would balk at being compared to a murderer, Andres not only relates to Hannibal (while referencing the last scene in Anthony Hopkins' big-screen Hannibal he mused, "Holy cow, this could be me!"), but believes there's something innate in human DNA that attracts us to blood. "Every time we cut our finger one of the things we do ... is we take the finger to our mouth and kind of we suck the blood," Andres explained. "When I cut it, I'm like, 'Mmm, this is sweet man. I'm tasty!'"

Both Fuller and Andres try to focus on Hannibal as a chef and gourmand, instead of a people-eater. "What he does overnight is not my problem," Andres said. "I didn't create the dishes thinking in the negative side of 'What did he kill?' No, I created in the positive side ... so I had this amazing opportunity to dream of the life of Hannibal from the good perspective, even if he has a dark side."

Fuller explained that this is the same attitude Hannibal brings to his unique hobby. "He doesn't see himself as a cannibal. He sees himself as consuming cattle, or cattle-grade people," Fuller said. "I think serial killers and cannibals, part of what is fetishistic about them is the taboo of 'You do not eat your fellow man.' But Hannibal does not see his victims as fellow men; he sees them as less than [human]."

Yet for viewers, Hannibal still manages to be a very sympathetic protagonist. "He's still a villain and he's still a devil," Fuller allowed. "I think what makes it sort of likeable is that we all have that innate frustration with our fellow man - and ourselves - whenever we lose control or go rude. He just has a very punitive take on how the rude amongst us should be handled."

How Hannibal handles the rude people is, of course, eating them. And while we can all agree killing and eating people is bad (very, very bad), that doesn't mean it can't also look damn tasty! "You can hear our stomachs rumble when we're cutting these scenes together because the food looks so good," Fuller said. This complicated dichotomy between the mouth-watering aesthetics of Hannibal's dishes and the grisly knowledge of what they are is one of Hannibal's strongest features, allowing viewers to indulge in a perverse pleasure typically forbidden to them. "There's something fascinating introducing a very confusing, yet tantalizing element to cooking where you are what you eat. Quite literally sometimes." Though, Fuller clarifies that simply because Hannibal "eats the rude" doesn't mean that makes him rude by association. "I think he digests them," Fuller explained. "He's got a good fiber diet, so nothing sticks. The train keeps moving as it were."

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