Food Fright: Not your average fishy film and fish fry


Many people out there enjoy horror movies. Many of those same people also like food. That’s why I’m starting Food Fright. Think of it as the horror fan’s ultimate date night. I’ll pair a movie and a dinner plan, often including dessert. Heck, I might even suggest what you should drink and/or eat with the movie. That’s a complete theme.

Piranha (1978)

This Joe Dante classic cashed in on the Jaws craze in all the right ways. I make no apologies about my love of 70s horror flicks. Like others of the time, this one pokes fun at society and itself with a dark edge of humor to the horror.

Why this movie: Despite the atrocious sequel and the remakes over the years, this is a classic drive-in-style horror flick. It offers a great pace, chuckles, thrills, and special effects (dated yet fun)Dinner tonight. While it has plenty of blood, by today’s standards it’s tame as far as gore goes. Plus, any respectable horror nerd loves this film.

The date: This movie should be watched in the great outdoors. Sure, you could watch it on your portable screen like you’re on a stinkin’ airplane, but think BIGGER. Hang a sheet out in your backyard and project this baby onto it. Go scour Craigslist for an old projector screen and set that up. Use a portable projector attached to your laptop—and instant outdoor cinema. Then, get your grill or outdoor fire pit fired up and ready to make the amazing dinner that goes with it.

The biggest decision: do you cook with your date, while enjoying a pale ale, or do you have the whole thing set up to impress. I suggest the set-up-to-impress for early in the dating game and for anniversaries. For couples looking for date night fun, do the whole thing together.

The appetizer: Our theme is camping and fish, so of course the snack is trail mix with gold fish crackers. Mix equal portions of nuts of your choice (slivered almonds are an easy, tasty choice), Chex or the equivalent, gold fish crackers, cranberries, pretzel twists and rye crackers. Serve it in small, disposable cups used for cupcakes. Easy breezy. Have it out ready to snack on in advance or serve once you hit play.

Image: Courtesy Bon Appetite. Photo: Kyle Johnson.

The recipe: This is a fish fry of a different sort, complete with hobo pouches! The original recipe appears on Bon Appetit. This fish—seared cod with pumpkin lime butter—is simple and amazingly flavorful. The side is potato wedges with chorizo. It’s perfect to cook outdoors, because the pumpkin-lime butter does all the hard work as it sears flavor into the fish inside the aluminum foil hobo pouch. (The pumpkin-lime butter can be made 2 to 3 days in advance to make date night stress-free.)

The trick to fish is that it goes from undercooked to overcooked in literally a minute, so keep an eye on it. Get the potatoes on first, and while you’re doing that, get the screen set up, if it isn’t already. The potatoes take about 30 minutes and the fish only takes about six, so simple math lets you know you have about 24 minutes to set up the screen or drink a beer and eat the appetizer.

The beverage: Since this is an outdoor adventure, I’m breaking with wine to suggest a beer. Pale ale pairs great with fish. Choose your favorite local brew. My fav is brewed right in Ohio by Maumee Bay Brewing Company.

Dessert: Dinner isn’t complete without dessert, and dessert while camping isn’t always easy. S’mores, sure, but that’s to be expected. So is popcorn, so we’ll go outside the box.

Simply called “Banana Boat,” this recipe is perfect for tonight’s dinner theme. Plus, it’s super easy.

Banana Boat

What you need:

  • Banana
  • Chocolate bar or chocolate chips (I prefer dark chocolate with almonds)
  • Marshmallows or mini marshmallows
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil

Cut your banana down the middle. Leave it in the peel. Stuff with chocolate and marshmallows. Wrap in aluminum foil and place in hot coals for about 5-10 minutes. Turn and rotate often.


That’s it! Just sit back in some lawn chairs, wait for the summer sun to fade, and hit the play button.

Happy date night!

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