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The One Thing You Never Noticed In "The Silence Of The Lambs" Will Rock Your World

It can't be deliberate. Or can it? Big H/T to redditor mrcchapman.

Right. Here is one of the most famous lines in cinema.

Orion Pictures / Via vine.co

"A census-taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti."

If you've not seen the film, a) you should, and b) this is from a terrifying scene where FBI agent Clarice Starling is speaking with Hannibal Lecter, the scariest psychiatrist/serial killer there has ever been.

But. We need to talk about these three things: liver, fava beans, and red wine.

Why did Thomas Harris (the author of the book the film is based on), choose these three meal components? In the book Lecter says he drank a "big Amarone", rather than Chianti, but it's still a red wine.

Well. It's quite feasible Lecter's making a subtle joke here.

As part of his treatment, he might have been prescribed monoamine oxidase inhibitors [MAOIs], drugs used to treat atypical depression.

There's a list – and it's not especially long – of foods one should avoid while taking these drugs, otherwise they can have a lethal reaction.

They contain an amino acid called tyramine, which can cause a hypertensive reaction – basically it can make your blood pressure increase to potentially lethal levels.

And three of them are liver, fava beans, and red wine.

That's right. Hannibal Lecter told the world he wasn't taking his meds, and no one even noticed.

Orion / Via i1007.photobucket.com

And now your head has just exploded.

But wait! This is all too much of a stretch, right?

Well. Here are a couple of other things worth noting. For a start, Harris is known for cracking the odd joke like this in his novels. For instance, Lecter makes a subtle medical gag when he reveals the "real" name of the killer Starling is trying to track.

We also spoke to an NHS psychiatrist who agreed to be quoted anonymously. She said:

If Hannibal were to have that delightful meal whilst on MAOIs it would likely be his last. Fava beans were always the one thing about these drugs you had to remember in lectures. If he added a nice hunk of cheese to that meal I'd be absolutely certain this was a joke, because it's often known as the "cheese reaction".

  1. Is this an incredible secret joke?

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Is this an incredible secret joke?
    vote votes
    Get out of town BuzzFeed, this is waaaay too much of a stretch.
    vote votes
    I'm convinced and my world just done turned upside down.
    vote votes
    Dunno man. I just don't know. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alan White at alan.white@buzzfeed.com.

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