This article analyzes the symbolic importance of food in Pedro Almodóvar's film What Have I Done to Deserve This!! (¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto!!, 1984) vis-à-vis the notorious icon, la madre maruja (the Spanish housewife and mother). It argues that food is rhetorically invoked in Almodóvar's film to organize cultural politics around gender in Spain after the almost forty-year dictatorship of Francisco Franco. What Have I Done is considered by many to be Almodóvar's best work and it is also regarded as an indispensable film, not only within his filmography but in the history of Spanish cinema. The film offers a radical departure from mainstream cinematographic images of women and food. Examining the film's use of food provides an invaluable source for the study of social conflicts and anxieties around gender, inherited from a troubled past.

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