“Delicatessen” is a 1991 French movie based on a world in which food has become so scarce that grains are used as currency. A butcher who is also the landlord of the apartments above his delicatessen exchanges pounds of meat for bags of corn, and we get the slightest inkling that he might be serving his eccentric tenants a particularly rare cut of meat…
In this darkly-comedic, Chaplin-esque comedy of appetite and error, we see the depths that these characters will go to to fulfill their hunger.
You can see here that his customers are suffering from The Hunger, or what my old doctor calls “The Meat Sweatz”. This term can be used to describe the irritable, anxious feeling you get when you are desperate for some meat (and also the symptoms you experience after eating too much). At this point, his tenants don’t realize that their landlord has taken on a new boarder, who he plans to bulk up with household tasks until he is ready to serve. But they are blind to his evils: they’ve already got The Hunger. As Charlie of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will tell you, “You get one taste of delicious, delicious human meat, and nothing ever satisfies you again.”
“Delicatessen” is a great flick to sit through, with Film Noir-ish visual appeal, fabulous costuming and sets to evoke the postapocalyptic era, and characters with faces as flexible as pizza dough, emoting the absurdity of these fictitious, but borderline believable circumstances.
Myths about modern cannibalism are perpetuated every time a boat gets lost at sea, so the idea of people actually consuming human meat is not far out of the pop culture consciousness.
I’m reminded of one of Roald Dahl’s greatest and most macabre short stories, “Pig” (1960). In this tale, an orphaned boy is raised by his aunt who instills in him the values of vegetarianism. Upon her death years later, he eats a diner meal, intoxicating him with the appetite for meat, and erasing the lessons of his past. The chef, who cannot assure the boy that what he’d eaten was more than just “probably” pig’s flesh, invites him to visit a slaughterhouse, where he learns first-hand the perils of eating meat – with a twist.
I don’t know about you but all this talk about pork has got me hungry!