Courtesy of Justina Mintz / HBO

Stinky cheese, spilled ketchup, peanut butter, and French fries are among the foods that have helped cook up fictional flings.

Abbey White
February 09, 2018

From the iconic to the awkward, food has often played a role in the big and small screens' best romantic moments, from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp to Netflix’s Master of None. But there’s a whole big world of food out there on the big and small screen, not to mention a variety of ways to woo someone with it. From the silly to the sultry, here are 13 moments from television and film that capture all the fun, romantic and surprising ways fictional lovers have won over each other’s hearts with food.

Stranger Than Fiction

Clever puns are a hallmark of romance, and there’s probably none better than this one in 2006’s Stranger Than Fiction. The film, which plays on life as pre-written fate, follows I.R.S. auditor Harold (Will Ferrell) after he’s been assigned to bakery owner Ana Pascal’s (Maggie Gyllenhaal) books. He develops feelings for her, but through it struggles with how much control he has over said feelings. That’s because his life is being narrated and seemingly controlled by a disembodied voice (Emma Thompson). While it seems like a weird predicament, having his existence decided by a writer comes in handy when Harold attempts to woo baker Ana with a bouquet of “flours.”

Selfie

ABC’s short-lived (but so good) romantic comedy Selfie explores the power of food to alienate or connect people in an honest and ultimately adorable way. After Henry (John Cho) sees Eliza (Karen Gillan) standing over a trash can and eating alone because “her food digests better” that way,  he sets out to turn his officemate’s antisocial behavior around. But after Eliza reveals the real reason she eats this way, the “lesson” ends up being a two-way deal that allows the office primadonna to put her well-guarded walls down while Henry gets someone new to share his meals with.

Beauty and the Beast

After trapping Belle’s father in his castle and forcing the young woman to exchange her freedom for his, the Beast had a lot of work to do when it came to earning Belle’s genuine romantic interest. Lucky for him, even some of his more “beastly” qualities could be seen as charming in the right light. How we eat can be a make or break interest for some people, but the Beast’s efforts to meet Belle halfway when it comes to “properly” dining on porridge falls more on the make end of the spectrum. It’s a good reminder that we don’t necessarily have to hide who we are in love. Just, you know, eat less messily.

Roswell

While it’s true that the perfect dish can be a life-altering experience, it’s less common to see food become a matter of life and death. Nevertheless, in the very first moments of The WB’s sci-fi teen drama Roswell, that very thing manifests. As two armed men attempt to rob the diner owned by Liz’s (Shiri Appleby) father, shots are fired, and the young teen gets caught on the wrong end of a bullet. Enter Liz’s long-time crush and resident shy boy Max (Jason Behr), who races to her side upon realizing what’s happened. Using some serious doctoring, Max heals Liz’s wound before dumping ketchup on her uniform to cover up any blood from her injury and proof of his powers. The shocking and messy moment ends up jump-starting an out of this world romance.

The Princess Diaries

In love as in life, we’re prone to make mistakes. How you work to rectify them can be the difference between a broken heart and the romance of a lifetime. Who better to relay that important lesson than The Princess Diaries Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway). Mia has been crushing on her best friend’s brother Michael (Robert Schwartzman) since forever. Unfortunately, he doesn’t notice her until she gets a royal makeover. But by that point, everyone’s seen Mia and caught up in the whirlwind of attention, the princess forgets who her friends are. Lucky for her, Michael’s there to help her remember, and for that, she thanks him with a salty and sweet pizza and M&M apology.

Jane the Virgin

Some say that you’ve found your soul mate when you’ve found someone that can finish your sentences. But what about when they can lay out the best local grub right off the top of your head? In this scene from Jane the Virgin, Jane (Gina Rodriguez) and Rafael (Justin Baldoni) take their son Mateo out for a drive to help him get to sleep. During the run, Jane reveals that she’s got an appetite, but that they can’t stop for more than a few minutes otherwise Mateo will wake up. Cue one good thing that came from Rafael’s (former) party life: expert knowledge of local fast food cuisine. Especially, where to get the best french fries. As you see, Rafael’s food knowledge wins Jane (and us) over.

Eat, Pray, Love

Did you know that when you eat, your brain releases pleasure-inducing chemicals? According to Roger Cone, a professor and chairman of molecular physiology and biophysics at Vanderbilt University, the process—known as ingestion analgesia—is activated by your body, which has reward circuits built in to help you enjoy eating. That probably explains why Elizabeth (Julia Roberts) essentially has a love affair with her entire Margherita pizza in 2010’s Eat, Pray, Love. Well, at least part of the reason. There is a particular unbridled and unmatched joy that comes when you stop caring so much and instead try to embrace the world (and food) around you.

Shadowhunters

First dates are always nerve-wracking, but that anxiety can be exceptionally high when it’s your first time dating anyone, well, ever. As is the case for Shadowhunter Alec Lightwood (Matthew Daddario), who ventures to a bar for his first date with Magnus Bane (Harry Shum Jr.), High Warlock of Brooklyn in Freeform’s Shadowhunters. The two’s initial encounter is slightly awkward (the night is full of a lot of firsts for Alec), but after the two have a few drinks, they let loose, proving that a good beer and cocktail go a long way to crafting the perfect date.

Fifty Shades Darker

Depending on who you ask, the Fifty Shades franchise is either highly romantic or just sex(y). This scene featuring Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) cooking together is a little bit of both. As the newly reunited couple prepares a tasty meal, they spend some time cozying up over the cutting board. But as their conversation turns to working out the kinks in their relationship, Ana discovers that there are both new and old issues between them that may require more than her culinary skills can address. Good thing they’ve got the length of an entire meal to hash it out. 

Lost

If you could bring one thing with you to a desolate island, what would it be? Having never been stranded on one by a plane crash, you probably wouldn’t think to choose your favorite food. But as we see in this clip from ABC’s sci-fi drama Lost, your food cravings may reveal the thing you actually miss most about the mainland. Lucky for Claire (Emilie de Ravin), her budding love interest Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) has a little imagination, a lot of heart, and the perfect solution to her no peanut butter problem. Try not to taste peanut butter (and fall in love) as you watch them.

Mostly Martha

This storyline for this movie might seem quite similar to the 2007 film No Reservations, which starred Catherine Zeta-Jones. It should, as the American film is the remake of this 2001 German romantic comedy Mostly Martha. The story follows Martha (Martina Gedeck), a chef and a perfectionist consumed by her professional desires. But when Martha becomes guardian of her recently deceased sister’s daughter, Martha experiences a bit of a life shake-up. As she welcomes a new family member, Martha’s restaurant also welcomes a new sous-chef, Mario (Sergio Castellitto), whose unconventionality initially ruffles Martha’s feathers, before spice up her heart and taste buds. In this “sampling” scene, Martha gets to explore her feelings about food and Mario.

Insecure

Courtesy of Justina Mintz / HBO

Of the many storytelling skills HBO’s critically-acclaimed comedy Insecure has managed to master, the art of the awkward sexy moment is perhaps one of its best. In this moment from the early part of the show’s second season, Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) invites a guy she’s nicknamed “Sweetie” to join her and her friends Molly and Issa at a food joint following a party. The moment seems to be going well for them until Kelli’s body language reveals something beyond the plate of french fries in front of them is being shared. The move between her and “Sweetie” doesn’t go unnoticed by the other people at the table, but Kelli doesn’t seem to care much. It’s clearly the best plate of fries she’s ever had.

The Back-Up Plan

We’ve heard of kissing among the stars, but kissing among the cheeses? It’s slightly more romantic than it sounds in the context of 2010’s The Back-Up Plan. Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) is tired of waiting around for Mr. Right to start a family, so she decides to go ahead with sperm donation and start one on her own. Funnily enough, that’s exactly when Mr. Right shows up, in the form of Stan (Alex O’Loughlin), a cheese maker. To help win over her heart, Stan creates a cheese based on Zoe, making her his “cheese muse.” Zoe is somewhat dazzled by it, confirming that romance can happen even while in a stinky cheese barn.