California-based author Jenn Fujikawa has created a number of pop culture-based cookbooks including The I Love Lucy Cookbook and The Goldbergs Cookbook. In this Q&A the contributing author to the official Star Wars website talks about her latest cookbook: Star Wars The Life Day Cookbook.
Q. What impressed me most about this cookbook – other than the recipes themselves – is how much knowledge you have of the Star Wars universe. Of all the Star Wars films and shows – what is your favourite?
A. The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite movie because I love all the creatures and worlds it introduced. Seeing different planets always gives me ideas for new recipes.
Q. This cookbook focuses on Life Day, an important celebration in Wookiee culture. The cookbook’s author, Cookie, who travels the galaxy in his food freighter, mentions in the cookbook how many creatures have a similar mid-winter celebration and how he tried to tap into that when creating recipes. How did you create the recipes?
A. I try to ground my recipes in a variety of diverse flavors and cultures, and for this book I started with holiday foods. I do a lot of research to incorporate Star Wars in-universe references, be it colors of planets that would be used in the foods or that are native to certain planets. My writing partner Marc Sumerak writes the stories to go along with my recipes and we work well together. I always want my dishes to feel familiar, but other worldly at the same time.
Q. How many recipes did you originally create for the cookbook? Were there some that didn’t make the final book but that you wished had worked out?
A. I always aim for between 50 and 60 recipes per book, but I do go through a lot of tweaking from the outline to the final product because I want the through line (a connection to the theme or plotline) to make sense and I want the reader to feel like they’re going on a journey, being able to mix and match main dishes, sides and desserts to make their own complete meal. There were some that didn’t make the cut, but I always hold on to them in hopes that I can use them again someday in a different project.
Q. Once a recipe is created, how do you go about testing it? Do you and your family/friends try each recipe?
A. All of my recipes are tested on the most vocal food critics: my kids. Everything I create becomes our dinner anyway, so believe me after years of testing recipes on them they will tell me what works and what doesn’t. When it comes to desserts, I often end up with so much that I drop them off on my friends’ porches who live nearby!
Q. How long did this cookbook take to make from initial idea to finished product?
A. Writing this book didn’t take long because I was so inspired by Life Day and holidays in general. It helps to really love the subject you’re writing about, which makes creating recipes and coming up with content so much fun.
Q. Was there a recipe that was extra hard to complete or photograph?
A. No, whenever I create recipes they have to be easy for a home cook to make. I want everyone who reads the book to feel like the dish is easy to accomplish. If it’s too difficult I’ll cut it or rework the recipe.
Q. What are your three favourite recipes in this book? Which one was your favourite to create?
A. Trask Chowder is a variation on something I make almost weekly for my kids. It’s warm and comforting, plus who wouldn’t want to channel their inner Grogu and pretend they’re eating alongside Mon Calamari?
I like Bantha Surprise because I always wondered what it would taste like when Malla made it in the holiday special (the original Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978). I didn’t see the holiday special until much later, but once I did I was hooked. I just loved getting insight into day-to-day life on Kashyyyk, and of course the cooking segment was my favorite. I loved the idea that Life Day is a holiday about family and tradition.
So, I channeled my inner Gormaanda and stirred and whipped up a recipe! Wookiee-Ookiees are another favorite because what’s better than sweet, “chewy” cookies! And making salt dough versions is a fun holiday tradition that you can hang on your tree every year.