May 19 2009 4:07pm

Science Fiction Cuisine: I Find My Lack of Success Disturbing

I’m sure all three of my adoring fans wondered why there was no Science Fiction Cuisine post over the weekend. The answer is simple, my friends. I have failed in my mission to create Star Wars food. If I was your only hope, sorry. You may call me a scruffy-looking nerf herder.

Much as I love Star Wars—I’m talking about the movies, here, not the vast expanded universe of books and comics and games about which I know almost nothing—as a source for culinary inspiration it’s been less than thrilling. Sure, Jabba slurps yucky frog-things and there are various gunky fluids in the Mos Eisely Cantina to slake the thirst of the local scum and villainy. Beyond that? Food’s just not a big deal in Star Wars. I’m guessing cooking isn’t one of George Lucas’s passions, ranking somewhere above poetic dialogue and well below yelling “yippee.”

There’s a cookbook called Wookie Cookies, but as far as I can tell, it’s normal food with Star Wars pun names like Boba Fett-ucine. Fun idea, but not the sort of thing I am after. Wookiepedia lists hundreds of food and drink entries, but the vast majority are not from the movies themselves and in many cases there’s precious little to go on.

I told myself, “I have to try to find something!” But then a little muppet in my head said. “Do, or do not. There is no try.” And so I opened myself to the culinary side of the force, let it surround me.  And yet, crap. Kept drawing a blank. However, a luminous cook am I. When life gives you mynock droppings, make Twi’lek mascara, I always say. Or at least, I’ve now said it once.

Failure #1: Blue Milk

Blue Milk is milk from a Bantha, apparently, though I don’t think that’s actually discussed anywhere in the movies. Aunt Beru serves it to Luke early on, and if I recall correctly, it makes an appearance or two in other films. As a kid, I pictured Blue Milk to be sweet and thick, but not too thick. Like kefer, maybe.

It strikes me as a little strange that a dairy product would be a commonplace beverage on a desert planet. You’d think a “moisture farmer” would be more likely to drink…you know…filtered micturation, Dune-style. But since that is a) gross and b) would be inappropriate to recreate in a food post, I’ll just suspend disbelief and accept that milk is plentiful.

Thinking of milk beverages popular in hot climates, I remembered lassi, a popular drink in India. Lassi is plain yogurt thinned with milk or water. There are sweet and salty lassis. The sweet ones are along the lines of smoothies. I made two lassis, specifically blueberry and blackberry. Unfortunately, what I came up with was far more Purple Milk. It just didn't have that strange shade of tupperware blue that it should have had. Sad to say I think this might be a job for food coloring. And I think relying on food coloring is generally a shite method.

Failure #2 Food Rations

Ah, food rations. There’s a sexy name if ever I heard one. The sticks of food Yoda steals from Luke’s pack (and criticizes and expectorates) come from a box of food rations. The sticks themselves have no name that I am aware of. So food rations is the name I'm going with. You can tell just how much thought Lucas put into naming food, eh? “How about Chompsticks? No. Eating stuff. Hmmm…too exciting. Digestive Biscuits?”  

Perhaps I should have gone Izzard on this one and written a recipe for penne al’arrabiata, which Eddie says is served on perpetually wet trays in the Death Star cafeteria. Anyway, I tried to make these with a modification of a recipe for kaab el ghazal. I won’t even show you the outcome. Looked like tubes of baked ass.

I’m going to need time to recover from the fiasco and come up with new ideas. For the time being, my food posts will be every once in a while rather than weekly. I hope my three adoring fans will forgive me.

I'll close this episode of failure with two bits of entertainment. First, a cook who carved a jicama to resemble Jar-Jar Binks. Second, my daughter wearing a Darth Vader voice-changing helmet and screeching like Diamanda Galas on fire. Only cuter.

Ursula L
1. Ursula
Regarding "blue milk":

My German grandmother called skimmed (nonfat) milk "blau milch" or "blue milk." Definately a pejorative in her mind, compared to "real" (whole) milk.

I could see milk as a dessert food - think of the dessert nomads, herding sheep and goats, living off of the dairy in the form of yougurt and cheese.
2. SWS
You want Star Wars food, go to Timothy Zahn's books. Talon Karrde liked to eat - Bruallki and Menkooro anyone?
Kage Baker
3. kagebaker
Dude, it's so simple! Add blue Kool-aid and sugar syrup to skim milk in a blender!

Or you could make a White Russian and add a jot of Blue Curacao, for grownup bantha herders.
Jason Henninger
4. jasonhenninger
ah! Curacao!!! I totally forgot about that! Great idea.
Heather Johnson
5. HeatherJ
Yeah, this is NOT the type of post I need to be reading while at work ... too many short bursts of laughter emanating from my office cube. :)
Richard Fife
6. R.Fife
This was a hard post to read, mainly as my lungs stopped working several times. Chin up, Jason. I'm sure you'll get your groove back. YIPPEE!
CE Petit
7. Jaws
Nerf steaks. Remember, Princess Cinnamonbunhead (aka Princess Itakeahairdresseralongoneverytrip) accused Han of being a "scruffy nerf-herder," and nerf steaks are a running gag in some of the books...

That said, I think Quaker Oats had the contract on "ration bars."
lanyo lanyo
8. lanyo
ew. we fans appreciate your efforts. even if there's no good things to attempt from some favorite sources.

funny kid. they always wanna alter how we see icons ;)
j p
9. sps49
We do appreciate the attempt. And the sharing thereof!
Church Tucker
10. Church
Off (this specific) Topic, but a member of a forum I mod recently posted a recipe for Klingon Gagh (vegan(!) to boot.)

Jason Henninger
11. jasonhenninger
thanks to all of you for the suggestions and words of encouragement.

@10 Looks very good! Quite a different take than the one I did here: http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=blog&id=27549
Church Tucker
12. Church
@11 Jason

How did I miss that? Thanks for the link. The tribbles look scrumptious.
13. TheMarchChase
What about that stew Yoda was making in ESB?
14. fredex
very late post... What I immediately thought of when you mentioned the "food rations" is: Lois Mcmaster Bujold has, in her Vorkosigan series, "IJC Standard RatBars", where the name is apocryphally alleged to have come from the major ingredient. Said to provide full nutrition when consumed at just two per day, they remind the eater more of shoe leather.

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