The food of "The Hunger Games"

Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 03.22.12
If you own and operate a 12-year-old, you know “The Hunger Games” has helped fill the spaces between Harry Potter and the Twilight gang with a mashup of relationship drama, “Mass Effect 3” and reality TV. The movie version of Suzanne Collins’ 2008 book opened Friday with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, a teenager who competes against 23 other kids in a post-apocalyptic version of “Survivor” where you don’t get voted off the island so much as your disassembled body becomes its own pulpy archipelago. Which is to say, you die.
Beneath its level-conquering video structure though, “The Hunger Games” is about food. The pages fixate on eating the way starving people dream only of what they can’t have. It’s a deprivation celebration hosted by the Capitol of Panem to oppress its 12 Districts by forcing each District to pick two of its children by lottery as “tributes” to play the deadly Games. Broken down by location, here’s the food from the first book of the “Hunger Games” trilogy. No spoilers here. Just spoilage.
In District 12, Katniss Everdeen’s home:
► Entrails (a feline amuse bouche)
► Goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves
► Apples
► Loaf of bread (with an arrow)
► Squirrel (traded for the bread)
► Blackberries
► A dozen fish
► Bag of greens
► Gallon of strawberries
► Bread (arrow-free)
► Salt (a trade for the fish)
► Wild dog (“Once it’s in the soup, I’ll call it beef.”)
► Stew of fish and greens
► Goat’s milk
► Bread from the tessera stocks (a year’s worth of grain and oil)
► Discarded butcher’s bones
► Rotted vegetables
► Two large loaves of scorched raisin-nut bread
► Cookies (gift or bribe?)
► Soup of mouse meat, pig entrails and tree bark
► Dandelion salad
► Wild onion
► Pokeweed
► Pines
► Rabbit
► Eggs from birds’ nests
► Wild turkey (the bird, not the bourbon)
► Katniss (the tuber, not the tribute)
► Mush
► Chicken
► Beef
► Horse
► Deer
► Fancy cakes with flowers (eye candy only)
► Drop biscuits
► Wild plums
► Popcorn
► Young buck (traded for cash and venison steaks and, indirectly, a goat)
► Herb tea
► Stale tarts with goat cheese and apple
On the train to the Capitol
► Dinner: Carrot soup, green salad, lamb chops, mashed potatoes, cheese, fruit, chocolate cake
► Breakfast: Eggs, ham, fried potatoes, tureen of fruit, rolls, orange juice, coffee, hot chocolate
► Breakfast of champions: Red juice with clear spirits (Bloody Mary?)
At the Capitol
► Push-button lunch: Chicken with oranges in a creamy sauce over pearly white grain, peas and onions; flower-shaped rolls; honey-colored pudding
► Cinna (Not actually a food, but Lenny Kravitz as Cinna the stylist looks good enough to eat. And I don’t even play for that team.)
In the Training Center
► Goose liver and puffy bread
► Wine (underage drinking is the least of their worries)
► Strategy dinner: Mushroom soup, bitter greens with tiny tomatoes, rare roast beef, noodles in green sauce, cheese with sweet blue grapes, flammable cake.
► Breakfast: Eggs, sausages, batter cakes with orange preserves, purple melon, hot grain with beef stew, rolls, hot chocolate.
► Fish-shaped seaweed bread (District 4 style)
► Seeded crescent roll (District 11 style)
► Roast pig
► An apple (In the pig’s mouth. With an arrow in it.)
► Fish soup
► Pork chop
► Mashed potatoes
► Lamb stew with dried plums (first appearance)
► Wild rice
► Coal dust (only as a simile)
► The inside of Katniss’ cheek (nervous snack)
In the Games arena
► The other tributes (we don’t like to talk about that one)
► Loaf of bread (dropped)
► Pack of crackers
► Dried beef strips
► Pine bark (high fiber)
► Spit-roasted rabbit
► Water-plant roots
► Honeysuckle nectar
► Another rabbit
► “A strange bird ... no bigger than a chicken” (groosling)
► Starchy root (“sharp, sweet taste of a parsnip”)
► Roots, nuts, greens, berries (Rue’s harvest)
► Waterbird eggs
► Crackers and apples (sneaky snack)
► More greens, roots and berries
► Peeled nuts
► Cold groosling
► Raw fish
► The last cracker
► The last of the groosling
► Mint leaves
► Seeded crescent roll by air freight
► The last of the rabbit
► Pack of dried fruit (spoils of war)
► Overcooked groosling and roots
► Dried apple and dried pear halves
► Pot of hot broth
► More groosling, more roots
► Berries (let’s call them Rueberries)
► Groosling stew with chives (“There's pineapple groosling, lemon groosling, coconut groosling, pepper groosling...”)
► Berries, mint and ... something extra
► “Smaller, bonier fish”
► Mint leaves, for chewing
► “The sharp metallic taste of my own blood”
► Ryan Groosling (make that “raisins and groosling”)
► Hope you like groosling. With roots and dried fruit.
► More mint leaves
► Lamb stew with plums (significant second appearance), plus rice, rolls, goat cheese and apples
► Nightlock berries (may cause ... drowsiness)
► Rabbit, roots, greens, rolls, cheese. An apple and a squirrel for later.
► Piece of cake (false alarm; just an expression)
► Nightlock berries, second course (ask your doctor)
Back to the Capitol and beyond
► Orange juice (The Hunger Games, brought to you by Tropicana)
► Clear broth, applesauce
► Roast beef, peas and rolls
► Popcorn, Junior Mints, Diet Coke (At the movies, with your 12-year-old)
("Hunger Games" promotional posters by LionsGate; photos by Murray Close/LionsGate. Food photos by Mike Sutter.)