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The secret joke behind Silence of the Lambs' most famous line

Independent News and Media

"I ATE his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." It's one of the most quoted lines in film history and appreciated for the malevolent calmness of Sir Anthony Hopkins' delivery.

But Dr Lecter's choice of sides weren't based on his taste predilections, he was making a medical joke.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) could have been used to treat him, and what are the three things you're not allowed to eat while taking them? Liver, beans and wine.

As a psychiatrist, Lecter would have known this, so as well as making Clarice uncomfortable he was cracking a joke for his own amusement and hinting that he hasn't been taking his meds.

The factoid was posted on Reddit earlier today and fact-checked by another user, who found that according to online drug library Erowid the foods to avoid while on MAOIs do indeed include 'Chianti wine and vermouth', 'meat: non-fresh or liver' and 'bean curd'.

Topics:  silence of the lambs


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