The Truth About The Strudel Scene In Inglourious Basterds

Did the Nazi Hans Landa recognize Shosanna in the restaurant? That's the big question presented by an iconic scene in Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film "Inglourious Basterds," and the answer lies in the ingredients of the strudel.

The most common misconception about the meaning of the scene is that Landa is using the strudel to determine whether or not Shosanna is Jewish (via Reddit). Because Landa places so much emphasis on the addition of cream, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that it has something to do with kosher dietary restrictions. Furthermore, because the film takes place during World War II and butter was heavily rationed, you could also assume that the pastry had been made with lard, a non-kosher substitute, instead. Either way, if Shosanna refused to eat the strudel, it would be a telltale sign that she's Jewish, thereby confirming Landa's suspicions.

This rationale, however, doesn't quite add up. As one entry on the "Inglourious Basterds" Fandom page points out, this couldn't have been Landa's intention because it would've been an ineffective tactic. Even if Shosanna was a strict Orthodox Jew and willingly ate the strudel, she technically wouldn't have broken any kosher rules because "all those are suspended when the situation requires you [to] do it to protect your life."

The strudel scene had nothing to do with Jewish dietary guidelines

Assuming that the strudel in the film is a historically accurate representation of one made during World War II, it would've been kosher by default anyway. According to NPR, traditional strudel is pulled and stretched thin, rather than laminated and rolled out. That means there wouldn't have been any butter required for the strudel we see Hans Landa and Shosanna eating. If for whatever reason the strudel recipe did call for butter, it still wouldn't have been substituted for lard, because a high end restaurant, like Chez Maurice, would've had access to that ingredient.

According to Screen Rant, the point of the strudel scene is to build suspense. By ordering Shosanna a glass of milk and insisting that she add cream to her strudel, Landa's skills as a self-proclaimed "Jew hunter" are brought to the forefront of the audience's attention, because the first time the two met was on the dairy farm where he murdered Shosanna's family. Even if he wanted to, it would've been impossible for Landa to use a kosher strudel to test if Shosanna was Jewish, but his presence alone was enough to kick the tension into high gear during an otherwise casual conversation over strudel.