From Screen to Plate: Bloggers Bring Geeky Food to Real Life (And Then Share the Recipes With Us!)
om nom nom
Geeks never pass up an opportunity to integrate their fandoms into their everyday lives. Whether we’re pouring our coffee into a Green Lantern mug at work, sporting a Sailor Moon hoodie at the gym or driving around with nerdy decals, bumper stickers and custom license plates on our cars, we love what we love, and we’re not afraid to show it. Former theme park designer Jenn Fujikawa and licensed attorney Giulia Palermo have taken their adoration for all things geeky one step further – into the kitchen, paying homage to their fandoms with food.
Fujikawa runs JustJennRecipes.com, a geeky food blog dedicated to all things edible and adorable, featuring categories for Hello Kitty food, Star Wars food and more. Current offerings include Twilight Sparkle Cookies, C-3PO Ice Cream Sandwiches and Game of Thrones’ Tyrion Burgers – her blog is like a giant, multi-fandom potluck, and everyone’s invited!
“I have a lot of friends who are writers and artists, and taking the heart of what they’ve created and turning into something edible is easy, because the love of the artwork is already in there,” Fujikawa said, describing the process of taking characters from the page or screen and bringing them to the table. “Food is love!”
You don’t have to spend a long time on her blog for Fujikawa’s undying love for all things Hello Kitty to stand out as prominently as Kitty’s signature red bow. She’s created everything from Hello Kitty cookie cupcakes to baked pasta to moffles – which she describes as a “crispy waffle with a mochi chew” – she’s basically done it all, and is constantly reinventing the wheel. That love did not go unnoticed, leading Sanrio itself to present the mom and author with a geeky food blogger’s dream come true.
“Sanrio wanted to celebrate National Poundcake Day and My Melody, so they contacted me and asked me to provide a recipe for the project,” Fujikawa said. “They were already aware that I’m a big fan – when they were putting together their 50th anniversary book, they called me back then because they knew I‘d have vintage Hello Kitty items. Working with them was fantastic, and I was thrilled that they thought of me.”
As many fans know, the pink-hooded rabbit My Melody’s favorite food is Almond Pound Cake, which made her a perfect character to pair with National Pound Cake Day, which was March 4th. When it came time to create the recipe, Fujikawa wanted to keep it simple. “I don’t like overly complicated recipes, and in all my years of food blogging I’ve realized that the easiest recipes are the most relatable, and the ones people will actually try,” Fujikawa said.
“Simpler is always best, especially when it comes to geeky interpretations. If you make things easy, not only does the essence come across, but it allows people to see that it is doable. No one wants to sit and intricately frost cookies or cut out 100 pieces of different colored fondant. Exploring main elements will bring the character to life, and it will be fun and crowd pleasing. I want people to see that the things I create are very easy to make so that they can enjoy them, too. Sharing the fun, that’s what fandom’s all about.”
Fujikawa, who credits her kids as her inspiration, has written a book about Mochi, her favorite food, and is currently writing and drawing a children’s storybook for San Diego Comic Con that contains a special recipe inside.
For 26-year-old Giulia Palermo, who, when she isn’t cosplaying, knitting or busy with ballet, runs the tumblr Real Anime Food, the descent down the rabbit hole began when cooking “normal” recipes for her family started to feel repetitive.
“Around the start of January, I was watching Sword Art Online and there was this episode where Asuna made what they called a ‘rabbit ragout stew,’ and all I could think was ‘oh man, I need to try this!’” Palermo said. “The more I watched, the more I wanted to try everything. I finally decided I was going to make Ringo’s curry, since I’m really in love with the show and happen to love curry. I wanted to try other things as well, and I thought maybe there were other people out there who also wanted to try and make all the delicious looking food in anime. So I thought, why not make a blog about it, so other people can enjoy the food as well?”
Once she decides on a menu to replicate, Palermo’s research process involves watching – and rewatching- the episode of the show that features the desired dish, and taking multiple screen caps. While some shows are more openly descriptive about what goes into the food the characters are eating, some meals are more of a guessing game – which was the case when she tried to replicate the Sparkling Queen Nougat found in Panty and Stocking.
“I understand why they made it look the way they did, and why they wanted to use a nougat description. But they still portrayed it looking more like a muffin,” Palermo said. “Nougat usually is a rectangle bar, so trying to figure out how to keep it true to the taste description and still come out with something that looks like [what was in] the anime was kind of hard. I figured it out when I was walking around Michaels and found a pan that kind of looked like an upside down muffin. I think that shape really helped made the whole dish.”
So far, Palermo has recreated everything from the jumbo steak set featured in Paprika to the curry buns shown in Kuroshitsuji – which were a challenge, since the unconventional curry required cocoa. She lets her taste buds do the driving when it comes to selecting recipes, and welcomes recommendations.
“What I have been doing is picking food based on whatever mood I happen to be in. So if I’m in a mood for sweets, I’ll try to think of any anime I watched that had something sweet in it. Then I’ll actually go through, watch the anime and see if anything jumps at me. Usually more than one thing does, and I make the hard decision,” Palermo said. “I love suggestions! It isn’t always easy to come up with things on my own, plus I love getting feedback and knowing that I’m helping someone else make a dish that they are dying to try.”
While she still hasn’t been able to recreate the rabbit ragout stew that inspired the blog, Palermo remains enthusiastic and optimistic about recipes to tackle in the future, and has an ever expanding wish list of recipes to try.
“Anime and cooking has always been my go-to when I need to get away,” Palermo said. “I find cooking to be not only relaxing, but rewarding – it’s great to put together a meal that people I care about love. Anime has been a powerful part of my life as well, because of it, I was introduced to so many amazing and wonderful people I’m still close with today. Being able to combine these two very important things in my life has been a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to recreate lots of fun, crazy anime food in the future.”
Chaka Cumberbatch is a writer, cosplayer, and professional disseminator of anime news. You can find her on Twitter as @princessology.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]