Quentin Tarantino’s films are perhaps most famous for the disparate elements they manage to juggle. They’re masterclasses in visual style, dialog, costuming, violence-as-metaphor, violence-as-just-regular-violence, and overall atmosphere. Among the many running themes of Tarantino’s oeuvre is food as a device to reflect the power dynamic between two parties or, at the very least, to bring people together to move the story forward. In the Tarantino-verse, it’s over meals that plots are hatched, interrogations go down, and the very nature of morality is pontificated upon.
Tarantino has spoken about his use of food to underscore power dynamics before. From SS Colonel Hans Landa using strudel as an interrogation technique to Jules Winnfield taking the bite right out of the middle of someone else’s half-eaten burger, characters in Tarantino films often mark their territory by claiming food or forcing food on one another. Other times, food is an equalizer. There’s a real sense of camaraderie in sharing a bowl of stew in a snowbound cabin, enjoying the wonders of a $5 milkshake, or bullshitting at a diner about life, tipping, and Madonna’s sexual proclivities.
All of this is to say, food in Tarantino’s films feel present and supremely relevant, no matter which era the stories are set it. So to celebrate the director’s latest opus, Once Upon A Time In … Hollywood, we decided to rank our 12 favorite foods from his catalog. These are the dishes presented on-screen; the food we legitimately want to eat. Sadly, as much as we desperately long to try Teriyaki Donuts there’s no food actually identified in that scene. So the amazing Jackie Brown didn’t make our list.