Teenie-tiniest spoilers – only for the food that’s briefly shown in the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens!
If you’ve seen it, you may have noticed the food items that Rey earns for her scavenging, and then prepares and eats in her ramshackle, ex-Imperial Walker, home. Those little vacuum sealed packets, or ‘portions’ as Simon Pegg’s character Unkar Plut calls them, are salvaged military ration kits which contain two foods – Veg-Meat, and Polystarch.
First, there needed to be research – so I went to see the movie again. Still good. The few seconds the food has on screen is inspiring, but I needed more!
Next, I bought the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, as I had been informed there was some information in it about the ‘portions’. The image above comes from it – and there was also more information about the Veg-Meat and Polystarch components, specifically their names, and photographs of what they’re supposed to look like:
Also, a kind internet goer called Richard on Sci-Fi StackExchange examined the relevant sections from both of the published novelizations and the script! From the Official novelization:
Green slab-stuff sizzled in a makeshift cook pan. Opening the packet of beige powder, she dumped it into a tin half full of water. A brief stir activated the mixture, which promptly expanded and solidified into a loaf of something like bread. She slid the cooked meat off its pan and onto a plate, then slipped the loaf out of its container. Taking a seat, she dug into both as if she had not eaten in weeks. It seemed that these days all too many meals were like that.
From the Junior novelization:
Rey made dinner in her humble home. She opened both ration packets and dumped the green protein square into a pan on a burner. While that was cooking, she mixed the brownish flour with water in a container. The chemical reaction worked its magic and a doughy loaf rose.
“Meat and bread” was what Plutt called this packet combination, though Rey doubted it tasted anything like the real thing. She ate from a plate that she licked clean of any leftover food.
And from the script:
She cooks for one. Does everything for one. She opens the POWDER, moves to the makeshift WOK, where the GREEN MEAT SIZZLES. Pours the powder into milky WATER in a tin. Stirs it. It GROWS INTO A LOAF as she puts the meat on an old plate. Grabs the loaf.
So what do we have?
One Quarter Portion:
A vacuum-sealed, octagonal, packet containing two food types: Veg-Meat and Polystarch. The Veg-Meat part of the portion comes in three pieces, while the other half of the packet contains the basic Polystarch dehydrated ingredient – a beige with black speckles, powder. A quarter portion is about the size of a small plate, or large saucer in diameter.
Veg-Meat is a protein-like substance which is a dark mottled green, is slightly floppy/rubbery in texture, and comes in thin trapezoid slabs. It is fried before eating, and sizzles when cooked. The assumption from the name is that it is vegetable in origin – not animal meat.
This food starts in the sealed packet as a beige powder with black speckles. It is emptied into a pan of water, stirred briefly to activate, at which point it starts to bubble and expand. Within the course of just 10 seconds or so, it grows into a mango-sized ball of bread-like food. It is mostly green in color, with a white powdery surface and some cracking. It is immediately cool enough to touch after the process and can be removed from the shallow cooking tin. The name suggests that it contains starch of some kind – possibly several different kinds.
Unfortunately, while making vegetable-based meat-substitute is looking to be an easy problem to solve, the instantaneous, magical, bread-from-powder Polystarch is proving a more difficult problem. So, while I work out how to make the impossible, we’ll do a temporary, visual-only, version!
Version 0.1 – The Candy Quarter Portion
And here’s my first attempt – the candy/sweet version!
It contains gummi-veg-meat (with sour sugar dusting) and sherbet powder with chocolate sprinkles faux-polystarch! All sealed up in a carefully trimmed vacuum-sealed octagonal bag. My photography leaves a lot to be desired, of course, but it really does look and feel pretty satisfying to hold a stack of them. They’re easy to hand to people and you can dip the gummy candy into the sherbet to eat! (Watch out – it’s zingy-sour :D)
So until I can figure out how to make for-realzies Polystarch bread in a shallow pan in seconds (and I’m not convinced it’s impossible yet), this will serve as a fun, Star Wars themed, hold over.