Created By: neoYTPism on April 12, 2011 Last Edited By: neoYTPism on July 19, 2011

How They Like Their Food

How characters like their food is supposed to tell us something about them.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Well, there's a guy who relishes surprise.
Crook: What are you doing here, pighead sucka?
Harry Callahan: Every day for the past ten years, Loretta here's been giving me a large black coffee, except today she gives me a large black coffee and it has sugar in it. A lot of sugar. I just came back to complain. Now you boys put those guns down.

Hot dog vendor: Hey Spock, what do you want on your hot dog?
Leonard Nimoy: Surprise me.
- From "The Springfield Files" (a Simpsons parody of the X Files, involving Leonard Nimoy as an animated guest-star)

Do We Have This One?? Oh, and I'm open to title suggestions.

Even before we get deep into the story, (or sometimes afterwards) an early clue as to something about a character would be presented by how they like their food. Popular variations include:

Reckless hardened badass/supposed badass who likes his meat raw.

Someone who is mature and their "maturity" contributes to their ego may like their coffee black, whereas somebody "childish" may want sugar added and/or be taunted as childish for it.

A wacky or irrational character may like a bizarre combination of toppings.

An eccentric and/or bored-with-life character may tell any waiter to "surprise me".

Compare Drink Order, which might qualify as a subtrope of this.

Not to be confused with Trademark Favourite Food, wherein their preference can be coincidental.

There's probably some Truth in Television to this, though it's not necessarily so simple.
Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • April 13, 2011
    dalek955
  • April 13, 2011
    ladygem
    Would James Bond's "shaken, not stirred" martinis count?
  • April 13, 2011
    dalek955
    I think that's more of a Trademark Favorite Food. Or maybe a Catch Phrase.
  • April 13, 2011
    TwoGunAngel
    Also compare Drink Order.
  • April 13, 2011
    Rolf
    Elvis has his infamous sandwinch. I'm sure some fan can name the recipe...
  • April 13, 2011
    BlackDragon
    I recall a story - possibly an urban legend - about a CEO who always takes prospective high-level employees out to a good steak dinner for the interview. If they put salt or pepper on their steak before sampling it, he'd immediately drop them from the list of prospectives, because he didn't want to work with anyone who'd make such swift judgements without testing first.
  • April 13, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Citing that might be worthwhile if possible @ Black Dragon
  • April 13, 2011
    Duncan
    @ Rolf- an Elvis sandwich is Banana, Peanut Butter, and Bacon.
  • April 14, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    • Fooly Cooly, both Amarao and Naota initially don't like Sour Drinks, to indicate that they'd rather skip the difficulties involved in really growing up and instead pretend that they are adults, when inside they haven't actually matured with confidence. Later in the series, Naota starts drinking Sour Drinks, even though he doesn't like them.
  • April 14, 2011
    randomsurfer
    @Black Dragon: I've heard that story about Thomas Jefferson, except it was about whether someone would salt their soup before tasting it.

    Here is the Snopes article on the story.
  • April 16, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Now that is an interesting example. Normally I would suggest focusing on gathering fictional examples, but this would be a real-life invoking of the example.
  • April 17, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Incredible Hulk. Banner happens upon a town and a biker gang comes in at the same time. The go to the diner and order burgers, one "raw" for the Ax Crazy Dragon.
  • April 17, 2011
    neoYTPism
    What exactly was that supposed to reflect on though? @ randomsurfer
  • April 17, 2011
    randomsurfer
    That he's a crazy wild animal who eats raw meat.
  • April 17, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Ah, okay. I was wondering whether it was supposed to reflect on impatience or toughness or whatever combination of the two...
  • June 23, 2011
    EnemyMayan
    The opposite of this can be done to reflect the Balance Between Good And Evil, as happens in The Sword Of Truth... Richard can't eat meat because of all the killing he has to do in his role as a war wizard.
  • June 23, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Opposite of what? @ Enemy Mayan
  • June 23, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Bond's martini preference may be more than a mere catchphrase. Shaking reduces the oily mouthfeel from the vermouth (for a crisper taste), dissolves oxygen into the drink, and chills it more thoroughly. There's even research[1] showing that shaking the drink enhances the antioxidants in it. at the very least, Mr. Bond has a discriminating palate and a degree of worldly experience conveyed in his choice of drink.
  • June 23, 2011
    jatay3
  • June 23, 2011
    jatay3
    In Belisarius Series Lady Sanga loves onions. I guess that indicates her good-natured happiness as a Housewife but it also hints to Lord Sanga that she is still alive after a supposed assassination because no onions were found at the scene.
  • June 23, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Bond's martini is covered under Drink Order anyway.
  • June 23, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • In The Cowboy Way Woody Harrelson's character orders a steak, prepared thus:
      "Just knock its horns off, wipe its nasty ol' ass, and put it on a plate."

    • Shaggy and Scooby Doo just like food. Which means you get them eating bizarre combinations as limburger and liverwurst pizza.
  • June 24, 2011
    kyun
    The Japanese have this trope as a common belief. The anime School Rumble has Eri discovering that the boys she eventually forms relationships with love curry.
  • June 24, 2011
    EnemyMayan
    @neoYTPism: The opposite of all the other examples, basically. In everything else that's been posted here, the food choice and the personality trait it reflects are the same... in the Sword Of Truth example that I added, they're radically different. The food choice still tells you something about the character, but someone who is literal-minded might misinterpret which personality trait to diagnose and think that Richard's vegetarianism means he's not a Badass.
  • June 24, 2011
    hevendor717
    Could use an outline at the beginning to highlight some of the tropes of this trope. (written more formally than this of course) Examples:

    -Reckless hardened badass/supposed badass likes his meat raw.

    -Someone who is mature and their "maturity" contributes to their ego may like their coffee black.

    -Somebody childish may want sugar added or demand a sweeter option. (or they could be taunted as childish for it)

    -A wacky or irrational character may like a bizarre combination of toppings.

    -An eccentric OR bored-with-life character may tell any waiter to "surprise me".

    A subversion or a played for laughs example could be when a preference contrasts strongly with what you'd expect from their personality.
  • June 24, 2011
    Micah
    In When Harry Met Sally, does Sally's absurdly picky ordering count? ("But I'd like the pie heated and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it's real; if it's out of the can then nothing.")
  • July 4, 2011
    neoYTPism
    ^ Probably counts. It's hard to tell whether an example of this was the intent, but if Sally's otherwise portrayed specifically as picky, then it is probably an example, and if she's otherwise portrayed specifically as non-picky, then it is probably a subversion.

    Oh, and thanks for the categories, hevendor. They've been added to the description.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=3gfe0vbeu2383j39hxxwwycg