Released in 2022, The Menu is a film that follows a group of wealthy individuals who gather on a remote island to experience an exclusive culinary event. However, as the night progresses, the guests’ true intentions are revealed, leading to a series of twisted and unexpected events.
For the second course in the restaurant, Chef Slowik served a breadless bread platter and perhaps one of the most unique in the movie. The idea behind it is so unique that you wouldn’t expect it to be seen in any restaurant in real life. But what even is breadless bread? Is it like wineless wine? Below, we will explore the meaning of such a bizarre dish and its implication for the story.
Breadless Bread Plate
In making food, some ingredients can be left out, and the quality and the taste of the food would not be severely impacted. But, on the other hand, there are also those ingredients that are the soul of the food. Taking them out from the ingredients list would mean taking the essence of the food.
Let’s have an example – a pizza. Imagine your favorite pizza. Now, let’s say that the bakers decided to pull a prank on you and decided to take all cheese off your pizza before tossing it in the oven. Your pizza then came without any cheese at all. Still, it is a pizza, although it is more unappetizing. It was as if you were eating ketchup-drenched bread. But it’s still pizza! The pizza was still whole, and the pizza’s essence was not taken away upon the removal of the cheese.
However, think of the same pizza. But instead of omitting the cheese, we are omitting the dough this time. So, the pizza arrived on your doorstep, and you opened the box. It was surprising to see some toppings in a carton. It’s no longer pizza! It’s more like toppings-in-a-box.
That’s the basic idea of the breadless bread plate – it is like a doughless pizza or an appleless apple pie. The second course seemed to be a play on a classic bread platter. However, the twist was that the bread portion was too small to the point of non-existence. Some customers found it funny and accepted it as a joke; however, the Chef did not seem to be joking around at all. He was even questioning a few people why they were not eating. When confronted that there was no food, he would defend himself by saying that he prepared it meticulously and measured each ration proportionally.
What does the Breadless Bread Plate mean?
The course was a criticism of how rich people, who had a lot of means available to put something on their plate, do not feel what it feels like to have nothing on their plate. In his speech, Chef Slowik noted that bread is the common man’s food. The food fills the common man’s stomach when there is nothing to fill it. The bread symbolizes common life. It is the manifestation of simplicity.
However, the common man does not have a lot of money to be able to afford such an expensive cruise to a remote island to taste exquisite dishes. The guests did not deserve any bread because they were no commoners and were above them. He added that the bread was for the peasants, something they were not, so they were not getting any bread. However, since the crowd like them is more obsessed with the tiny details of dining, they are getting those tiny details they can nitpick on. Hence they are served just the dips where they would have dipped their non-existent bread on.
The Breadless Bread Plate also felt like a backward “Let them eat cake” situation. In the original context of the quote, Marie-Antoinette, after knowing that the peasants could not afford to buy bread, a staple, told them to just eat cake as an alternative. This was a provocation that if something could not have a lower option, they should take the higher option instead – something more unaffordable.
In regards to the second course, it was the opposite. Instead of the poor being called to eat like the rich, the rich here was called to eat like the poor. If the rich would eat bread, what would the poor eat? Nothing. Then, there went nothing.