Every Recipe in The Godfather

Every Recipe in The Godfather
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By Sheila O'Malley

Gangster movies have been the bread and butter of Hollywood since its earliest days, with stars such as Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney cutting their teeth in Warner Brothers films about bootlegging and organized crime. But 1972's The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall, was an industry game changer. The Academy Award-winning film was one of the first to depict the Mafia from the perspective of its family values, immersing us so fully in the rhythms and personalities of the Corleones that it's difficult to fully vilify them. The Corleones work within a strict moral code, unlike the corrupt police who are a threat to the family and their way of life.

Food is one of the most powerful ways the audience gets to know the Corleone family, who came to America from Sicily and, like many immigrant families, use food to maintain their traditions. While the outer world may be new and challenging, sitting down to a family dinner and eating the food of their ancestors is a ritual of comfort.

In fact, The Godfather almost seems incomprehensible without its food and its significance is emphasized throughout the film, beginning with the opening scene, the wedding of Connie Corleone (Coppola's sister, Talia Shire), an extravagant event with plates of lasagna, antipasto salad, and a gigantic white wedding cake that's carried through the crowd of guests.

But food can also be bad news. Oranges, often symbols of life and regeneration, wealth and stability, are a harbinger of death and tragedy throughout the film, as evidenced by their presence in two critical scenes. Don Corleone, the family patriarch and mob boss portrayed by Marlon Brando, is fruit shopping (oranges included), when two assailants from a rival family gun him down. He recovers and at the conclusion of the film, while playing with his grandson in a small garden, scaring the child by putting an orange peel in his mouth and making faces, he suffers a heart attack and quietly dies.

Check out the slideshow above for all the recipes in The Godfather.

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