Cooking Star Wars – What Is Aunt Beru Feeding Luke and Owen?
Even as a teen watching Star Wars for the first time I was fascinated with Aunt Beru’s kitchen and what she could be cooking in that futuristic pressure cooker thingy. Tatooine looks like a hot, dry, sandy desert planet and Beru’s kitchen was white, bright and clean. How did she keep it like that? There were lots of cubbies with sliding covers, perhaps to keep out the sand and dirt. The plates, cups, and cutlery were white plastic. Perhaps this was a kit kitchen that you ordered from the Star Wars Universe’s equivalent of a Sears Catalogue. Perhaps the Lars family just set it down and built their dwellings around it.
Was there meaning in that kitchen set, some deep meaning to the Star Wars saga? I noticed the pot of lovely pink flowers growing near the dining table. Beru took the time to add life and color to the dry desolate area they lived in. Little Beru’s clean white kitchen seemed so happy, so safe. I don’t know about you but I wanted to sit at that table and eat dinner with Luke and his family…every day. I day dreamed that Luke and I would fall in love and get married and….ahem…sorry. Then we get the horrific contrast of the black charred remains of Luke’s aunt and uncle outside their home. Thank the Gods the Empire didn’t disintegrate them in the kitchen, it would have scarred Luke, and me, for life.
Then we get the horrific contrast of the black charred remains of Luke’s aunt and uncle outside their home. Thank the Gods The Empire didn’t disintegrate them in the kitchen, it would have scarred Luke, and me, for life.
In the deleted scenes from A New Hope you see Aunt Beru fill a pitcher with that famous blue milk, You see them drinking it while Luke tries to get his Uncle’s blessing to leave for the imperial academy. According to the Star Wars Wookieepedia, the blue milk was from female banthas. Did the Lars keep one out back and milk it every day? Dairy cows on Earth eat green grass and produce white milk. What did the banthas eat that made their milk blue? It doesn’t look like banthas have green pastures to graze in on Tatooine. I bet your saying; It’s in a galaxy far far away lady, don’t blow a gasket on this one.
If the milk was blue in color that guaranteed the cheese would be too, the cottage cheese, the mozzarella cheese, the ricotta cheese, the parmesan cheese and the blue cheese would be blue as well. OK enough about cheese.
Recently I engaged some twitter friends in an investigation of what Aunt Beru was cooking in her kitchen that fateful morning before the Empire showed up and….well…you know.
We believe we identified the following ingredients
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a flowering plant species in the carrot family. It is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean but has become widely naturalized in many parts of the world, especially on dry soils near the sea-coast and on riverbanks.
It is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb with culinary and medicinal uses and, along with the similar-tasting anise, is one of the primary ingredients of absinthe. Florence fennel or finocchio is a selection with a swollen, bulb-like stem base that is used as a vegetable.
This is obviously a green leafy vegetable. Moisture (water) was the only thing the Lars family was farming. It didn’t look like much would grow on Tatooine. Would this be a special treat that Beru could get in Anchorhead or Toshi Station? I’d like to think that she had a little hydroponic garden somewhere in their underground compound. Luke was a healthy young man and I’m sure she made him eat his vegetables, vegetables she would grow herself.
Salsify – The vegetable called salsify is usually the root of the purple salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius; the root is described as having the taste of oysters (hence the alternative common name “oyster plant” for some species in this genus), but more insipid with a touch of sweetness. The young shoots of purple salsify can also be eaten, as well as young leaves . Other species are also used in the same way, including the black or Spanish salsify, Scorzonera hispanica, which is closely related though not a member of the genus Tragopogon.
Here we have another root plant. Something that could perhaps survive long journeys in space when being shipped as well as being stored and kept for long periods of time. I’ve never eaten it and I’ve never even heard of it till I started researching this topic. I did discover some recipes where Salsify and Fennel are both used. Perhaps Beru had them both stewing in her little Star Wars crock pot.
Luke: “But I was going to Toshi Station to pick up some salisify!”
Owen: “Do your chores first Luke, then you can pick up the Salsify.”
Eggplant – (Solanum melongena), or aubergine, is a species of nightshade grown for its edible fruit. Eggplant is the common name in North America and Australia, but British English uses aubergine. It is known in South Asia, Southeast Asia and South Africa as brinjal. Other common names are melongene, garden egg, or guinea squash.
The fruit is widely used in cooking. As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to the tomato and the potato. It was originally domesticated from the wild nightshade species, the thorn or bitter apple, probably with two independent domestications, one in South Asia and one in East Asia.
OK, so eggplant is a fruit and not a vegetable. If it is widely used here on earth I will assume a similar plant is widely used in the Star Wars universe. I think the name ‘nightshade’ would be a much better Star Wars word for this food ingredient. Perhaps Luke’s favorite dish was Beru’s Nightshade Blue-parmesan.
Dried Mushrooms – ? OK, that brown stuff on the counter is hard to identify, it could be potatoes, could be bran muffins. I’m going with dried mushrooms. Even if Beru didn’t grow mushrooms she could acquire dried ones from the local market. I envision a peddler, much like the droid selling Jawas, who sold food items to the moisture farmers. Maybe Beru and Owen traded water for food with such peddlers.
So now that we have the food item we can see and reasonably identify, what was Beru cooking with them? The answer to that question will be the fun part. As a continuation of this post, you can go over to my YouTube channel and see my first episode of Cooking Star Wars. Each month I will find or create a recipe using the food item identified from Star Wars films. I will be looking at the food of the entire Star Wars saga and not just A New Hope. If you are a foodie and a Star Wars fan, this just might be the show for you.
Hugs and may the Force be with you.