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A24 Wants to Help You Recreate Cinema’s Most Unsettling Meals

Cereal with water, pizza smoothies, and more slapped-together meals are the focus of “Scrounging”

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An open book, turned to a page with dishes of food
In Scrounging, you’ll find a ton of recipes you don’t actually want to eat.
Amy McCarthy is a staff writer at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

Most of us are familiar with the concept of scrounging. It’s that thing you do when you’re 11 and your mom forgot to buy Easy Mac so you end up buttering a bunch of saltines. Or fast-forward a decade later and you’re 22 and violently stoned, and the cupboards are so bare that you end up microwaving shredded cheese on top of tortilla chips and calling it “nachos.” But in the movies, this chaotic approach to dining is more than a survival mechanism, it’s a storytelling device, as explored in indie film darling A24’s newest cookbook, Scrounging.

The cover of the “Scrounging” cookbook, featuring cereal inside a white bread sandwich.

Released on Tuesday, the book is a collection of more than 50 “recipes” — that term is applied somewhat loosely here; one recipe is simply eating powdered sugar from a bag — from films like O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 17 Again, and Phantom Thread. It includes Ally Sheedy’s iconic Pixy Stix sandwich from The Breakfast Club, and that horrific maple-syrup spaghetti Will Ferrell’s character assembles in Elf. This isn’t chaos cooking, it’s cooking that furthers a narrative.

“Whether it’s the focal point of a scene, the butt of a joke, a symbol, or clues for a character’s backstory, food in film is about more than just caloric intake,” chef Matty Matheson writes in the book’s introduction. “There’s often an underbelly or a slightly deranged element to eating, especially in the recipes here. We do crazy shit when we’re testing our limits, or when no one is watching.”

Scrounging is A24’s second cookbook, following 2021’s Horror Caviar. And while they are totally different books, they do follow a similar ethos. Where Horror Caviar seeks to entice readers into eating something that looks — and is inspired by — horror and violence, Scrounging confronts much more workaday nightmares, like familial strife (the microwave Thanksgiving meal from Lady Bird) and post-divorce malaise (Ray Cooper’s plain peanut butter sandwich in War of the Worlds).

Developed by writer-editor Margaret Rhodes, the recipes themselves range from the mundanely weird to the extreme, and they’re really more about the films they’re drawn from than the actual food. There’s Irish tea spiked with brown sauce, inspired by 2003’s Intermission, and The Man’s Last Coke on Earth, which is in fact just a can of Coke with a little extra pomp and circumstance, from the end-of-days epic The Road.

Lucky Charms cereal floating in water in a blue bowl.
The iconic cereal with water from Friday

You will probably not want to make most of these “dishes” in your own kitchen — do you really want to try cereal with water, like Craig Jones in Friday? And some you simply should not attempt for your own safety. There’s no need for anyone to, for instance, make moonshine from paint thinner, even though it worked in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

But there are some gems in Scrounging worth recreating. Invite a bunch of people over, crank Harry Nilson’s “Coconut” and make the midnight margaritas from Practical Magic, or the Stolen Rice Omelet from Tampopo. With that, you’ve got the beginnings of a solid dinner party for movie nerds. Who knows? Maybe someone will drink enough booze to attempt making the pizza smoothie from End of Days, or construct that iconic Pixy Stix sandwich. And there are several recipes in the book that actually do stand on their own outside of their nostalgic connection to an iconic film. With the egg-topped BLT from Spanglish or the steak-topped ramdon from Parasite, you can stay on-theme without having to eat anything too weird.

Considering all of Scrounging’s inherent absurdity, there is an impressive technical culinary precision applied to these recipes. It’s that fact that makes me want to recreate the dishes from my favorite movies, particularly the most bizarre entries, if only to add the experience to my own narrative arc.