From the Screen to Your Plate: Food in Pop Culture – A Culinary Journey Through Fandoms at SDCC 2022

From Left to Right: Ariel Landrum (therapist); Stefanie Bautista (educator); Celina Bernice (artist); Chance Calloway (director, producer); Earl Baylon (actor); and Joon Chun (restaurant owner).

Author: Ariel Landrum

Welcome to a culinary journey that transcends the boundaries of reality and fiction, bringing the food from your favorite shows, movies, and books onto your plate. Food is a universal language that transcends borders and connects people. It reflects our culture, our history, and our personal experiences.

This blog post is a recap of the panel discussion “From the Screen to Your Plate: Food in Pop Culture” that took place at the San Diego Comic-Con 2022 on Thursday, July 21, from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM in Room 24ABC at the San Diego Convention Center.

Our panelists for this discussion were moderator Stefanie Bautista (educator); moderator Ariel Landrum (therapist); Chance Calloway (the creator of Pretty Dudes); Earl Baylo (an associate producer and actor known for his work on Netflix’s Tomb Raider and Lumpia with a Vengeance); Joon Chu (restaurant owner of KPop Chicken); and Celina Bernice (artist). They shared their love of food, favorite recipes, and experiences with food in their respective fandoms.

Food as a Love Language

Food is more than sustenance; it is a universal language of love and care. It’s a medium through which we express our feelings, show appreciation, and build connections. It’s about the time, effort, and thought put into preparing a meal, the joy of sharing it with others, and the satisfaction of seeing their enjoyment.

In many cultures, food is a primary means of expressing love. It’s not just about feeding, but the intention behind it – the desire to nourish, please, and comfort. A home-cooked meal, a favorite snack, or a comfort food is about satisfying hunger and expressing love and care.

Stef had attendees consider the act of a mother preparing her child’s favorite dish. It’s not just about providing nourishment; it’s about showing love, creating a sense of comfort and familiarity, and making the child feel cared for. Similarly, a friend cooking a meal for another is a gesture of friendship and care. It’s about taking the time and effort to prepare something special, to share a part of oneself.

In the context of fandoms, food can also serve as a love language. Fans express their love for a show, a character, or a fictional universe by recreating the foods associated with it. It’s a way of connecting with the fandom, participating in the fictional world, and expressing passion and enthusiasm.

Moreover, food can also serve as a love language in professional settings. Celina shared how her art often features her favorite food she has grown to love. Joon noted how chefs and cooks express their love for their craft and customers through food. Each dish is a labor of love, a testament to their skill, creativity, and passion. It’s about creating an experience, evoking emotions, and bringing joy to others.

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Food as a Cultural Expression

Food is a powerful cultural symbol representing our heritage, traditions, and identity. It’s a reflection of our history, our environment, and our way of life. Each dish tells a story, carrying the flavors, aromas, and techniques passed down through generations.

In every culture, food plays a significant role. It’s not just about nourishment but also about celebration, ritual, and community. Traditional dishes are often tied to festivals, ceremonies, and special occasions as a link to our past and a means of preserving our cultural heritage.

Ariel, Stefanie, Celina, and Earl described how food is at the heart of social life in Filipino culture. It’s a focal point of gatherings and celebrations, a way of showing hospitality and affection. Each dish, from adobo to sinigang, carries Filipino history and identity, reflecting the country’s diverse influences and rich culinary traditions.

Chance highlighted how, similarly, in Black communities, food is a manifestation of love, care, and community. Dishes like mac and cheese, collard greens, and cornbread are not just comfort foods but also a testament to the resilience and creativity of Black people. These dishes carry stories of survival, resistance, and community, linking to their African roots and history in America.

Food also serves as a cultural bridge, allowing us to explore and appreciate different cultures. We can learn about a culture’s history, values, and traditions through food. It’s a way of fostering understanding, respect, and appreciation for cultural diversity.

Food in Fandom: A Deeper Connection

Food also plays a significant role in fandom culture. Food is unique in fandoms as a tangible link between fans and their favorite fictional worlds. It’s not just about the food but its memories, emotions, and associated experiences.

In the world of fandom, food often serves as a symbol, a plot device, or a character trait. It can be a simple comfort food that a character turns to in times of stress, a lavish feast symbolizing wealth and power, or a unique dish that signifies a particular culture or region within the fictional universe.

For instance, consider the iconic ‘Krabby Patty’ from the popular animated series SpongeBob SquarePants. The secret recipe of this fictional burger has sparked the curiosity of many fans, leading to numerous real-life recreations. Recreating these foods allows fans to experience their favorite shows, movies, or books in a more immersive and personal way. It’s one thing to watch your favorite character enjoy a meal on screen, but it’s another to taste it yourself. This culinary creation brings the fictional world into reality, blurring the lines between the fan and the fandom.

Moreover, some fans and creators have taken this concept a step further, using food as a medium to express their love for a particular fandom. Earl highlighted how content creators, including himself, who specialize in pop culture, had added the element of fandom food, deepening their connection with their favorite comics and shows and their audience who shares the same passion. Similarly, cooking shows that prepare foods inspired by fandoms add a unique twist to traditional cooking shows.

The Importance of Authenticity

When it comes to food and culture, authenticity is crucial. It’s about being true to the dish’s origins, respecting its associated traditions, and honoring the culture it represents. This is particularly important when introducing dishes from different cultures.

Joon noted how, for instance, if he wanted to introduce a Jamaican jerk sauce in his food as a Korean-American restaurant owner, he would take the initiative to partner with someone who knows how to make it authentically. This not only ensures the authenticity of the dish but also promotes the culture it represents.

The panelists concluded that food is more than just a necessity. It reflects our culture and is a tool for connecting with our favorite fandoms and expressing love. It is a universal language that brings people together, creating shared experiences and fostering connections.

Check out the full panel below!:

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