Study Guide

Goodfellas Food

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Food, Glorious Food

Mangia! In Goodfellas, food and family are linked together tighter than a string of salamis. Whether the characters are making a meal together or chowing down on the final product, food symbolizes the deep bond between family members.

Even when Henry and his crew get locked up, dinner is the main event. These guys are brothers in marinara, even in the slammer. Similarly, when Michael comes to visit, Henry cooks a monstrous meal in his honor and entrusts Michael with stirring the sauce. Then, there's Tommy's darling mama. When Tommy, Henry, and Jimmy stop by her house to snag a shovel, she insists upon whipping up a middle-of-the-night meal, making them a culinary offer they can't refuse—even if they are in the middle of hiding a dead body. For these stone-cold killers, food is love.

If grubbing out is how relationships are sustained in Goodfellas, the times that food is AWOL are important, too. For example, when Henry takes Janice out, it's for drinks, not dinner. That chick isn't family. He may set her up in an apartment, but he's never going to bake her a lasagna. Food is also absent the last time Henry meets Jimmy at the diner. Over coffee, and only coffee, Henry realizes he's in danger of getting whacked.

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