One character shows his knowledge of, and attentiveness to, another by providing his favorite food or drink without his needing to request it. The dish, obviously, will be somewhat unusual, but does not need to be very so — only enough that knowing it and having it on hand have to be in order to provide it for this person.
The person may not mention it, but if so, the Stock Phrase is "Your Favorite."
May overlap with Trademark Favorite Food, but can be something the person eats only occasionally, or usually is not significant. It is, in fact, often not something made a big deal of, because it does not show obvious attentiveness to pick up on it.
It can also be used in an attempt to bring a character out of a funk: "Come on, cheer up. Look, I made Your Favorite .... !" In cases like this, it overlaps with Comfort Food.
Can go wildly awry if the character gets it wrong.
When the Affably Evil villain says No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine, this may be part of it; it will add to the creepiness and can even be used as a subtle threat. ("I know what you eat, I know what you drink, I know about your beloved daughter who attends college upstate." You get the idea.)
Similar to "the usual" for a Drink Order, although that usually involves something the character reasonably expects to be available.
Subtrope of Through His Stomach. Note that just good cooking goes under that trope.
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Anime and Manga
In Fruits Basket, when they visit Tohru's mother's grave, they find it already cleaned up. Tohru realizes it must have been her grandfather, because he had brought her mother's favorite food.
When Ayame visits he brings first crabs, then peaches. Shigure observes they were Yuki's favorite foods when he was a child, and that he does not know what Yuki likes now.
In the Baccano! OVAs, Claire anonymously sends Chane a dress to indicate that he's serious about his marriage proposal. The gift of a dress in itself isn't very unusual, but the fact that he's sewn in knife holsters is. Even more twistedly heartwarming than it sounds: she wasn't sure whether or not to accept or kill him until she found them
Yu-Gi-Oh!: "Mint chocolate chip ice cream? I know it's your favorite!" Filler Villain Noa Kaiba, a digital ghost in a digital world, was apparently told this every day by the digital ice cream vendor in the digital park. One day he wanted to try something else, but she wasn't programmed for that and just kept repeating that line.
Chrono Crusade has a variation — Fiore is very pleased when Azmaria enjoys the food she's cooked for her, saying "This is my sister's favorite food. You remind me of her."
In the infamous anime film Grave of the Fireflies, Seita tries to get fruit drops for his little sister as often as he can, because they're her favorite food. After she starves to death, he cremates her and puts her ashes in a fruit drop box.
Mentioned in Ai Yori Aoshi. The first meal that Aoi cooks for Kaoru at his apartment consists of all of his favorite foods. When he expresses surprise at this, she mentions that she'd remembered them since their childhood meeting.
In Ouran High School Host Club, the rest of the members know that Haruhi loves to eat fancy tuna and if they want to bribe her into doing something, they offer her it.
A darker variation in Loveless. Ritsuka has had to memorize all of the "original" Ritsuka's favorite foods and react accordingly, because if he doesn't, his mother will punish him for it.
In Sherlock Hound, a kidnapped Mrs. Hudson feels sorry for Professor Moriarty and his minions, who can't cook particularly well, so she fixes them a highly extravagant steak-and-kidney pie, which just happens to be Moriarty's favorite. She somehow figured this out in spite of never having met him before in her life. He was so touched by the gesture that after he was inevitably foiled, he swore that whatever other depths he may sink to in his efforts to best Hound, he would never, ever involve Mrs. Hudson again.
In a relatively early episode (and chapter) of Soul Eater, Maka and Soul are at a party, and despite Maka's protest that Soul should get his own food instead of mooching off of her, she did get fish. Which she hates. And is his favourite food. He eats after she gets dragged off screen, realizing that she got it for him in the first place.
This trope gets a much darker take later on in the manga. Medusa welcomes back Crona, whom she raised in such pleasant ways as starving him/her till he/she killed some of her (pet) rabbits, after they defeated Tsar Pushka and Fyodor— with a table full of pasta just they way they like it. And Crona can have as much as they want, the wonderful child. And then Medusa hugs him/her. So he/she freaks out and butchers her. Just like she taught him/her to.
In The Wallflower, Kyohei's favorite is strawberries, which gets significant when he's sick.
In Detective Conan, one story ends with Ran being so impressed by her dad's solving of a case that she promises to make him his favorite food for dinner. She draws the line when he asks if she'll also get him a case of beer.
In the Mushishi episode "The Sunrise Serpent," the first sign that something unusual is wrong with Sayo is when her son Kaji celebrates a profitable day of work by bringing home Sayo's favorite food, dango, as a treat - only for her to act as though she's never had it before.
In the Power Pack comics, when the Power Pack meet Franklin Richards and go into space with him, the Fantastic Four search for Franklin. Some Avengers and Jarvis are staying at the Baxter Building; Jarvis, hoping they will find Franklin, buys some of Franklin's favorite foods to welcome him home.
In the Marjane Satrapi graphic novel Chicken With Plums, Nasser Ali's wife tries to drag him out of his depression by offering his favorite food, the eponymous chicken with plums.
In Groundhog Day there was one scene where the protagonist used his knowledge from previous replays to get his Love Interest her favorite dessert. Since from her point of view she never told him, she concludes that he's been stalking her.
Technically, he was.
Parodied in Galaxy Quest, when the Thermians serve their new crew all their favorite foods from a food synthesizer. It works out well for almost everyone... except Alexander Dane, because the Thermians got their information from the "Galaxy Quest" TV show and thus serve him his Rubber Forehead Aliencharacter's favorite: blood ticks.
In UHF, George makes his roommate his favorite food, a "twinkie-weiner sandwich" to make amends. It's a twinkie cut in half, with a hot dog stuck into it and cheeze whiz sprayed over the top as garnish. Bob refuses, so George dips it in milk and eats it himself.
This is reportedly a favorite snack of "Weird Al" Yankovic himself, although these days he uses tofu dogs.
Inverted in Blues Brothers. Jake and Elwood order breakfast in a soul food restaurant. The cook (their former band mate) recognizes the peculiar order and comes out to greet them.
Clue has this when the six guests are fed monkey's brains for Mrs. Peacock's benefit — "Mmm, this is one of my favorite recipes!" "I know, madam." In two of the endings, Wadsworth uses this as an indirect admission of guilt later.
In Iron Man 2, Tony misremembers and brings Pepper strawberries...the one food she's allergic to. Then he tries to get partial credit for at least knowing there was some sort of connection.
A myth is that the line "Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred" was not said in the very first Bond movie, Dr. No. In reality it (well, a slight variation) was said by— No himself. So the first time we learn about the favourite drink of James Bond is when the bad guy tells us.
Another Bond example occurs in The Spy Who Loved Me, where Bond and Anja show they know enough about each other by both asking the barman for the other's favourite drink.
This one is in turn flipped again in The World Is Not Enough, where Bond attempt to order the girl's favourite drink only to find she wants champagnee instead.
The original drink order (as in, from Casino Royale, the very first book) appears in the movie of the same name, as a Shout-Out (it's essentially a more complicated version of "vodka martini, shaken, not stirred", specifying preferred brands of liquor).
In The Movie adaptation of The A-Team, an angry/upset Baracus is always calmed/cheered by Murdock's coconut curry tapenade with toast points.
Chocolat: Vianne has a gift for guessing people's favorite sweets, although she has a hard time with Roux, not figuring him out until the very end: hot cocoa.
Played somewhat disturbingly in Black Swan: Nina's beloved smother presents her with a fancy cake when she gets the Swan Queen role, trilling "It's our favorite!"
Subtly done in the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair. After she surprises him at a ball, Catherine goes home with Thomas and they spend the night together. The next morning, his butler brings in her customary health drink, suggesting that a) he'd researched her preferences and b) having her over wasn't entirely unexpected.
Catherine: "I don't like being a foregone conclusion."
In Tangled, Gothel's surprise after their quarrel was Rapunzel's favorite soup.
In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Gideon responds to Scott barging into his club by offering him a glass of Coke Zero, his favorite drink.
In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Traitor General, Sturm's lifeward offers him a drink: "weak black cup of tea, with cinnamon". He comments that the lifeward is very attentive; he's had personal adjuntants who took less care of him. Later, as his memories return, he remembers his favorite dish, and the lifeward makes a mental note to have it served at the dinner.
In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novels, several people keep tanna tea on hand because Cain is rather fond of the drink. These include Amberley Vail, who was once persuaded to have some by Cain and pronounces the drink "distinctive."
To the point that in Death or Glory, when Trapped Behind Enemy Lines Cain assembles surviving units into a ragtag army, fights his way across most of a mid-sized continent and through the bulk of an Ork WAAAGH!, and kills the Warboss in charge in order to reach friendly lines, with the express goal of finding some tanna.
Similarly, at the end of The Caves of Ice, Cain takes the liberty of ordering dinner; Vail notices, with a smile, that he had remembered how much she liked a certain sorbet.
In L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne, arriving to work as a school's principal, is invited to dinner by every student's family. At the first dinner, she highly praises some pumpkin preserves. Thereafter, every single dinner features pumpkin preserves until she loathes it; a family that hates it had gotten some specially for her, and sent the leftovers home with her.
In The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce, upon the arrival of her foster brother who she hasn't seen in years, one character fixes enough of his favorites to cause one character to ask if she plans for him to roll away from the table.
In the first book of the Fire Thief trilogy this is done unintentionally when The Avenger, AKA the eagle that ate Prometheus's liver each day, enters a bar looking for the the escaped Prometheus. The Avenger was offered a bowl of soup, but declined it and would have found Prometheus just outside if the bar owner's daughter hadn't said just before he opened the door, "It's liver." The Avenger quickly changes his mind.
In the novel Chocolat, the protagonist Vianne Rocher has the gift of being able to tell a person's favourite chocolate just by looking at them, or even thinking of them. Also present in the film, with a lesser degree of Magic Realism.
In Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells, Evanelle brings Sydney strawberry Pop-tarts because she knows she ought to give them to her. Then Sydney's sister Claire shows up with her daughter Bay in tow, and Bay's favorite is strawberry Pop-tarts.
In The Hunger Games, Katniss comments in an interview that the thing that impressed her most about the Capitol was the lamb stew with prunes. In the arena, she receives a tin of it from sponsors.
In Catching Fire, she knows that the kitchen staff on the train "clearly wants to please" her because they made the stew.
The lamb stew strikes again in Mockingjay, in the sweetest way, when Peeta, still recovering from the I-hate-Katniss hijacking, finds a can of it and gives it to her during the infiltration of the Capitol.
In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, Billy serves the favorite drinks from the bar, having, as a good servant, learned them on the way.
In Harriet the Spy, Harriet suspects something is amiss when her nanny, Ollie Golly, needs to confirm that Harriet likes asparagus, seeing as Ollie Golly has taken care of her for all her life. It turns out that Ollie Golly's boyfriend is coming to visit, hence her nervousness.
Bashir seems to fall victim (such as it is) to this trope a lot. When he goes to Garak's former mentor and father, Tain, to save Garak's life in "The Wire," the venerable Cardassian offers him some red leaf tea, nothing that it's his favorite—which freaks Julian out a bit because they've never met.
Fran Sinclair: You just need to overcome your senses, and I made you your favorite dish: food.
Episode "Charlene's Flat World"
Fran Sinclair: I'm so glad you're back, I made your favorite for dinner. Charlene Sinclair: You knew we were coming back tonight? Fran Sinclair: I made it every night. Earl: Yep, 80 consecutive nights of meatloaf, and nobody prayed for your safe return home more than me.
Chuck where Morgan completely screws up a night between Ellie and Captain Awesome by giving Awesome all the wrong things when Awesome knew what Ellie liked all along but was tricked into paranoia and subsequently wrong-guess territory by Morgan's longstanding stalkerness about his fiance.
Babylon 5 has Garibaldi's late father, who had the usual trouble (fictional) men have with expressing feelings, but cooked bagna cauda on his son's birthday. Now Garibaldi makes it himself as a tribute to him. The quest for ingredients is a minor B (well, C) plot in one second season episode, A Distant Star. A third season episode, A Late Delivery From Avalon, had Garibaldi once again trying to secure the ingredients for bagna cauda, this time despite a trade embargo and an obstructivemailman who refuses to hand the ingredients over until Garibaldi pays the extra fees for the more difficult delivery.
On Star Trek: Enterprise, the crew go out of their way to find out Reed's favorite food, so they can make him a cake for his birthday. This is the A-plot, since the difficulty of it highlights how reclusive Reed is. Also, eh, some aliens attack at one point.
Happens quite often in The Prisoner, since the overlords at The Village know nearly everything about the Prisoner and can accomodate him almost immediately. They know how he takes his tea, what foods he likes, and so on, and regularly give him exactly that.
In one episode, they change his favourite food to mess with his mind.
In "The Chimes of Big Ben," he refuses to tell the new Number Two whether he takes sugar with his tea, so Number Two looks it up in his file ("Does not take sugar"). He then puts three lumps of sugar into the tea himself just to give Number Two the finger.
The original Number Two, when welcoming Number Six, tries to give him his favourite (bacon, eggs, and tea), but isn't entirely sure of the details. The trope is ultimately subverted when it turns out that Number Six doesn't especially care how the eggs are prepared or what kind of tea it is as long as it has lemon.
On The Office US, it is established in the pilot episode that Jim is head over heels for Pam, and that's one of the only reasons he works at Dunder Mifflin. "If I left," he explains, "what would I do with all this useless information in my head? You know? Tonnage price of manila folders? Um, Pam's favorite flavor of yogurt, which is mixed berry."
Supernatural: Zachariah offers Dean his favorite burgers and preferred brand of beer when he is at the mercy of the angels and supposedly about to die to destroy Lucifer.
Later, when Adam is in the exact same position, Zachariah has the same plate of burgers and beer, and remarks that the Winchesters are really quite predictable.
Dean is trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine where he has an adoring steady girlfriend. At one point she produces his favourite brand of beer, and Dean comments on how well she knows him. The moment is cruelly subverted after Dean escapes the fantasy and finds his 'perfect girlfriend' smiling back at him from a magazine add for that brand.
Gossip Girl. When Chuck decides to stop running from his feelings and to tell Blair that he loves her, he goes around Europe buying her favorite stockings, macaroons and whatnot from her favorite places. He's also been seen to bring her her favorite champagne and her favorite flowers on occasion.
In one episode of The Odd Couple, Felix tries to butter up Oscar by making his favorite meal — lasagna and french fries.
When Frankie visits her Mother on the Mother's Day episode of The Middle she asks her Mom to make a grilled cheese sandwich like she used to — with potato chips in the middle.
Starsky & Hutch: In the episode "Lady Blue," which revolves around the murder of Starsky's ex-girlfriend, Hutch makes him his favorite meal as comfort food, having called Starsky's mother up to get the recipe.
Subverted on Heroes. Volume Five Big Bad Samuel tries this on his longtime crush Vanessa, but his information is about 30 years out of date.
Most of the main characters in Eureka favor "Vincepressos", and Vince sometimes displays a preternatural sense of when they need one.
CSI: New York subverted this when a reporter offered Mac a blueberry bagel and coffee the way he liked it. This was based on what Flack told her, so naturally Mac was allergic to blueberries and had given up caffeine.
Subverted when Rachel is pregnant and Ross brings her her favourite tuna cucumber sandwich. However, she gets sick because of it and it's her favourite no longer.
In Destinos, Raquel's mother brings pumpkin turnovers, a treat Raquel was quite partial to as a child, as a peace offering after a blowup between mother and daughter.
The Brady Bunch, in a scene which made Susan Olsen furious beause it makes Cindy seem like a complete doofus:
Cindy: Why do you always bring me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?
Carol: Because they're your faaaavorite.
Cindy: Oh yeah, I keep forgetting.
Veronica Mars Logan's "loving" father makes him a birthday dinner of his favorite food. Except it is his sister's favorite and Logan is allergic. Aaron responds by getting mad at Logan for not appreciating his efforts.
In Baldo, Tia Carmen tell Baldo she made his favorite form of potatoes — and then second favorite — and then that she made potatoes.
U.S. Acres "What if it's strawberry ice cream? That's your faaaaavorite, isn't it, Lanolin?"
Ace Attorney: Max Gallactica says he always drinks a glass of milk before performing to not be nervous, so for the final day in court, everybody has left "a diary worth of milk" for him.
Earthbound: Ness's special attack is named after his favorite thing (the player inputs the name.) When calling his mother to prevent homesickness, Ness's mom often mentions his favorite meal (also input by the player.)
Hilarity can easily ensue, especially in Mother 3, where it gets used more frequently.
In an optional scene in Chrono Trigger, Marle tries to reconcile with her father by bringing him his favorite food. (It doesn't work.) She was lied to as to what it was!
Inverted in one optional ending in Chrono Cross: the player can ask Harle for "your specialty" when she asks what he wants for dinner.
* Every character in Star Ocean and Star Ocean: The Second Story has a favorite food which you can cook, which restores all their HP and MP. They generally make sense and/or poke fun at the character. Brooding Joshua likes the high-class escargot, perky Millie and Precis are partial to sugar-filled fruit parfait and chocolate crepes, and cat-people Perisie and Noel like tuna. Manly Cius and Iria, and boozer Opera, like various alcoholic drinks. Main character Claude likes good old steak.
Girl Genius: when Gil expresses his appreciation for Wooster, Wooster says of course he does, Wooster knows how he likes his tea.