As Durango’s comic-con Snowdown kicks off, we have a gamut of food events to look forward to, including hot wing, pie and French toast eating; oyster slurping; and chili and Bloody Mary making. (To say nothing of the liberal libation consumption likely to occur.)
But what if you want to get into the comic-con spirit in your own kitchen, before you head out to take in the parade and festivities?
Well, you’re in luck. There’s an entire subset of nerdy chefs who have dedicated themselves to creating recipes based around comics and pop culture.
This (recipe) is GrootSarah Eikner, half of the husband and wife team that runs Geeks Who Eat, said her blog tries to “examine the intersection of food and pop culture.”
“We’ve really always felt that it’s important to have fun with food,” said the Phoenix-based blogger.
The blog features recipes rooted primarily in movies, comics and video games – and leans toward creations that are relatively easy to make. Eikner said she keeps her recipes accessible for readers “because you hear a lot of people say, ‘This is too hard. I can’t do that. I can’t cook.’ But like they say in ‘Ratatouille,’ ‘Anyone can cook.’”
Some of Geeks Who Eat’s recipes are based solely on looks, while others go more in depth in finding ways to embody the attributes of pop culture settings or characters (or literally replicating the food portrayed on the screen or the page).
When it came time to make a recipe based on the “Guardians of the Galaxy” comics and films, Eikner decided to focus on the short-spoken, fan-favorite character Groot. (Random fact: Groot was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for “Tales to Astonish” No. 13 in 1960, making him older than Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and most other Marvel characters.)
A tree-like alien from Planet X, Groot’s likeness naturally lends itself to a candy bark, so that is what Eikner created.
“Flavorwise, I didn’t want to just do chocolate or mint chocolate, so I did peanut butter and green candy melts so it was green and brown,” she said. “But then we also threw some honey roasted peanuts in it so it wasn’t just like eating Reese’s bark or something.
“Groot is sweet, or at least he was, and so we felt like that salty-sweet flavor was a really good idea. That’s one of our favorite recipes.”
Curry fit for a ninjaWhile the comic-con zeitgeist is dominated by mainstream, Western superheroes, any foodies would be doing themselves a disservice in dismissing otakus, or nerds obsessed with Japanese anime (animation) and manga (comics).
“There’s something about Japanese anime versus American comics ... In anime, they put as much detail in the food and the scene as they do in the story and the characters,” said Dani Baghernejad, who runs the website Otaku Food. “The food just looks so delicious.”
As an American fan of anime, Baghernejad saw an array of dishes depicted in Japanese media but didn’t have many resources to learn more about them.
“You’re seeing all these really unique, weird dishes, and you don’t really know what they are,” she said. “So I wanted to find a way to make those myself.”
Baghernejad’s website mostly focuses on items from Japanese cuisine that appear in anime and manga in general, but occasionally, the recipes are directly inspired by specific dishes depicted in a show or comic. One example of the latter is the Curry of Life from “Naruto.”
“Japanese curry is so different than other curries,” she said. “It has its own sweetness and not necessarily a spiciness.”
In the ninja-centric manga and anime, the curry can revive an unconscious or dying person.
“We watched that episode, and Rock Lee, the character, is going on about how it’s the Curry of Life because this is all you need, and it feeds your soul and your body and energy and all that stuff. And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s true.’ So after that, we kind of went on a curry kick, and for probably like a month, I just tried a bunch of different recipes and variations.”
Baghernejad eventually landed on a recipe that she felt included everything a person could need.
“It’s self-sustaining, like you’d eat that one dish for the rest of your life and you’d be good,” she said. “It’s kind of incorporating different meats, vegetables, flavorings, seasonings just to kind of give it a little bit of everything.”
If Otaku Food’s Curry of Life is anything like its fictional counterpart, more than a few Durangoans will likely need its restorative properties at the end of this week’s festivities.
Groot BarkIngredients:12 oz milk chocolate candy melts4 oz peanut butter candy melts4 oz green candy melts¼ cup honey roasted peanuts; roughly choppedMethod:Melt chocolate, green candy melts and peanut butter candy melts in separate bowls.
Spread melted chocolate on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
Drop spoonfuls of melted peanut butter melts and green candy melts on top. Swirl with a skewer.
Top with peanuts.
Freeze until set, about 1 hour. Break bark into large pieces.
Source: Geeks Who Eat (2geekswhoeat.com)
Rock Lee’s Curry of Life
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Ingredients:1 pound stew beef2 tablespoons butter4 large onions1 inch ginger2 cloves garlic5 cups beef stock2 cans diced tomatoes1 small apple (or 2 oz plain applesauce)2 tablespoons garam masala3 carrots2 potatoes2 tablespoons milk2 tablespoons honey1 tablespoon soy sauce1 tablespoon ketchup1 cup frozen peas3 tablespoons butter4 tablespoons flour3 tablespoons curry powderMethod:Brown meat in pot. Transfer to bowl and set aside for later.
Slice onions. Add 2 tablespoons butter to a large pot over medium low heat. Add onions and cook 45 minutes until onions have caramelized.
Grate ginger and mince garlic, then add to onions and cook 5 minutes.
Grate the apple, then add tomatoes, apple, beef and beef stock to pan.
Toast garam masala in skillet until fragrant. Add to pot, then cover and simmer 1 hour.
Peel and chop potatoes and carrots. Add the potatoes, carrots, milk, honey, ketchup and soy sauce and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
Toast curry powder in skillet until fragrant. Add butter, then turn down heat to medium low and add flour. Stir constantly until it scrapes clean from the bottom of the pan.
Mix a ladleful of broth from the pot to the skillet and stir until combined. Keep adding a little bit of broth at a time until it turns into a gravy. Add to pot.
Add peas and cook another 15 minutes before serving.
Source: Otaku Food (www.otakufood.com)