If you go see classic psychological horror Silence of the Lambs In movie theaters and wondering why Hannibal Lecter’s most famous line in the movie got a surprisingly loud giggle from someone in the audience wearing full scrubs, it turns out that it was because it was a very obscure medical joke.
First, the most famous line in the movie, “hello Clarice,” didn’t actually appear in the movie.
This line is an example of the “Mandela effect”, or a collective error in remembering an event or a piece of art. However, the second most famous line, “I ate his liver with some beans and my cute chianti” actually appears in the movie, and that made the doctors smile.
It’s possible that Lecter, whose background includes being a forensic psychiatrist, chose these foods precisely because it is recommended that you avoid them if you are taking a class of powerful antidepressants known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Liver, beans, beans, and wine – specifically kiante (and also wine) – are foods to avoid if you’re taking an MAOI due to the presence of tyramine in them.
A research paper on the topic states that “eating foods that are high in tyramine can lead to a reaction that can have serious consequences.”
“Patients should know that tyramine can increase with food aging; they should be encouraged to eat fresh foods rather than leftovers or food prepared hours in advance. Examples of high levels of tyramine in food include fish and types of meat, including sausage and turkey Liver and salami.Some fruits can also contain tyramine, such as ripe fruits, avocados, bananas, raisins or figs.Other examples are cheese, alcohol, beans, all of these should be avoided until two weeks after stopping MAOIs.
“Anyone who takes an MAO inhibitor is at risk of developing reversible hypertension, which is associated with the disease.”
The joke, as suggested by mrcchapman on Reddit, was not intended to demolish the house, but was likely a reference to the fact that he was either off his medication when he ate forbidden meat, or he was misusing his medication.
mrcchapman wrote: “Lecter is a) a joke for his own amusement, and (b) he says he’s not taking his medication.
As for why he chose Chianti and beans specifically, it’s probably because it sounds more fun than “I ate his kidneys with some ripe avocado, raisins, and salami.”