What are all the foods and drinks referenced in Firefly?
April 28, 2014 6:32 AM   Subscribe

Some friends are putting together a Firefly-themed dinner. What foods and drinks are directly referenced or depicted in the Firefly canon?

By canon I mean the primary canon plus any explanatory materials (e.g. director's commentary explaining what the food they're eating in a particular scene is supposed to be).

A list of foods that we're already aware of: strawberries, apples, bao, the birthday cake, ice planets, Fruity Oaty Bars.

References to specific episodes or scenes are a plus.
posted by jedicus to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The only other item listed on the wiki is the nutritional bars that were looted in the pilot episode.
posted by zamboni at 6:45 AM on April 28, 2014

Best answer: Unlabeled canned food (because River tore off the labels).
posted by mollymayhem at 6:47 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

But there's also a Drink category, which includes Mudder's Milk and Shimmerwine.
posted by zamboni at 6:48 AM on April 28, 2014

Response by poster: We're also open to educated guesses and reasonable speculation regarding some of the background food, such as the "hodgeberries" in "Safe", "wife soup" from "War Stories", and the food at the banquet in "Shindig". The internet seems to think that the hodgeberries were blueberries, for example.
posted by jedicus at 6:52 AM on April 28, 2014

And the Mudder's Milk article points out there was a goofy cookbook made as a Serenity DVD promo.
posted by zamboni at 6:52 AM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I do have a Blue Sun Grain Alcohol t-shirt. So there's that.
posted by Thistledown at 6:56 AM on April 28, 2014

Mal got drunk on rice wine with Nandi.
posted by Solomon at 7:00 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

The whole ship got really excited when Book came aboard with strawberries.
posted by devinemissk at 7:03 AM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Whoops. Didn't read below the fold. Sorry!
posted by devinemissk at 7:04 AM on April 28, 2014

Saffron made fresh bao (Chinese buns) that Wash liked (which got him in trouble with Zoe).

Lots of Chinese food in General would work.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:26 AM on April 28, 2014

Upon preview - d'oh!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 AM on April 28, 2014

Best answer: Zoe's wife soup from the episode with the torture. Ep. 10, I think...
posted by warm_planet at 7:37 AM on April 28, 2014

"If wishes were horses, we'd all be eating steak." (Jayne in Objects in Space)
posted by esoterrica at 7:38 AM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In "Shindig", Kaylee says "Everything looks so fancy, and there's some kind of hot cheese over there" talking about the buffet table. I actually think she says "Hog Cheese", though the captions and internet disagree.

An excuse to watch firefly again? Sure I'll take it!
posted by cashman at 7:48 AM on April 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

Tea and dumplings. Visit your local Asian grocery store for frozen dumplings and pan fry them in a little water. Yum!
posted by Soliloquy at 8:55 AM on April 28, 2014

Simon tells a story about getting drunk on sake during medical school.

And you HAVE to have the ice planets that River found so problematic. Maybe thread some string through something like a white Sno Ball and tie the other end to a dowel rod?
posted by lharmon at 8:58 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's that huge slice of tomato Mal eats in the pilot (Joss references it in the commentary, saying how Fillion had to take the same exact bite every time they shot the scene).
posted by audi alteram partem at 9:53 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here's some recipes Official Browncoat Cookbook, which was apparently published on the Serenity website back in 2006 or so. Includes the meal that Shepherd Book made with the unlabeled cans. Food.com has a small selection of Firefly-inspired recipes from that cookbook, too.

You must have a recipe featuring rosemary. Because "A man can live on packaged food from here 'til Judgment Day if he's got enough rosemary." (Shepherd Book) Feel free to use your imagination here. :)

Wife soup, from the episode 'War Stories'.

Sliced tomatoes, rolls, and and beef tips (call them protein cubes)--that's what they had in the Pilot show.


Mudder's Milk Cocktail from Geek & Sundry Vlogger Mitch. "All the protein, vitamins and carbs of your grandma's best turkey dinner, plus 15 percent alcohol. Shiny."

Maybe you could serve some "Ng Ka Py" (medicinal herb wine) which Mal orders in 'The Train Job'.

You'll need cheap jug wine --- distilled using an engine of some sort. And decorate your drinks with cute little Kaylee Umbrellas!


How To Make An Ice Planet from TastyPlanner.com.

Tall Chocolate Cake: Simon Tam's big birthday cake (as presented by Kaylee in 'Out Of Gas')
posted by magstheaxe at 10:33 AM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Cider was served by Yo-Saf-Bridge (though she was Saffron then) with the food and fresh bao.

When they were walking towards the ship (the episode where they picked up Shepard Book and the rest) there included a shot of a vendor offering grilled dog meat.
posted by tilde at 10:54 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

In "Shindig", Kaylee says "Everything looks so fancy, and there's some kind of hot cheese over there" talking about the buffet table. I actually think she says "Hog Cheese", though the captions and internet disagree.

posted by cashman at 10:48 AM on April 28

I could see that. Hog's head cheese (a.k.a. souse, a.k.a. head cheese, but I could easily Joss Whedon re-naming it hog cheese) is an actual thing all over the world, and it's utterly delicious.

If you're not up for cooking an actual pig's head, you can find more grocery-store friendly recipes here (uses pork shoulder) and here (uses ham hocks and veal). Couldn't find a Chinese recipe for souse, but I did come across this Vietnamese one.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:13 AM on April 28, 2014

Canned beans are referenced and eaten during some of the war sequences.

Looks like some Mashed Potatoes at the first meal, flat breads, I think Simon's chocolaty birthday cake was mostly molded protein (pretty much what they had for dinner that night, as explained).

When they cracked open that Reaver-wracked transport - protein, "gen seed", growth supplements. Jane was raiding the kitchen but didn't show much other than kitchen equipment.

We were trying to read the food labels in the "ripping off labels" scene with River and it seemed to be mostly standard goods but bought from Chinese or Korean markets. When they get kidnapped (hodgeberries) - there was the General Store with unreadable canned goods and some bins that had grains and beans in it.
posted by tilde at 11:45 AM on April 28, 2014

Beans, specifically canned, are referenced in the war flashbacks. They'd be something ready to eat cold like pork and beans.

And of course "protein" is the basic food of the ship referenced several times most obviously in "Out of Gas" (it's what the whole meal and the birthday cake is made out of). I've always thought that tofu would be a reasonable approximation what with it's ability to take on flavours and substitute for other protein sources. Also it's made from beans which we already know they have.

Cattle transportation is a plot point so beef steak as well as horse could be considered a luxury food item. As well as regular cows milk.

And Simon's story about the Egyptians in Jaynestown implies they have bread.

PS: I've always thought hodgeberries were descended from Saskatoons.
posted by Mitheral at 11:47 AM on April 28, 2014

Seconding beef, but don't shoot horses; they can be used as cover.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:53 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

In "Safe", as Serenity is landing, the kidnapper guys are shown stripping a rabbit that is hanging from a rope tied to tree, by the legs. Also in "Safe", kid River notes as she is playing with kid Simon, that they have no rations left so they are going to have to resort to cannibalism.

So at the end of the dinner party when all the food is gone, you can make a very special announcement...
posted by cashman at 11:57 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One thing that always bugged me is that there was no space setup for interior gardening. Sure, sure if gravity goes there's a big mess, but right off of the dining area are two large pantry areas (small one in the kitchen area, larger one across the way they lock River in after her Fruity Oatie Bar triggering). A bag of tubers and carrots under some lights with some nutrients wouldn't be that tough.

In the one where they're saving the leisure house, Book is slicing off some cheese and there's a basket of bread to the side, something like mayo and margarine, and some pickled veg (teeny cukes or big cactus) in jars. Jayne makes a crack about the house looking like a "frozen dinner pack" and before that when Yo-Saf-Bridge comes back she is in a case of what looks to be some kind of foil wrapped foods? Not sure.

In the last one, Jayne is making pancakes and hashbrowns, Book is drinking something out of a coffee cup and it looks like there's a coffee server on the counter.
posted by tilde at 12:30 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just watched that scene in "Shindig" and I really think Kaylee says "hot cheese", which makes sense if you think about fondue. (Plus fondue is more likely to be served at a fancy schmantzy ball than hog's head cheese.)

Also in that scene are strawberries (of course), grapes, apples, and some canap├ęs that are almost undoubtedly smoked salmon on crackers.
posted by Specklet at 12:53 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Re: the birthday cake. Our plan for handling the "it's mostly protein" part was to interpret it as a chocolate-frosted angel food cake (i.e. primarily made of egg whites, which are mostly protein).

Re: mudder's milk. We are experienced home brewers, so we will probably make a fresh ale that is very close to liquid bread.

Re: hog cheese, the shooting script for "Shindig" says "hot cheese."

Also in "Safe", kid River notes as she is playing with kid Simon, that they have no rations left so they are going to have to resort to cannibalism.

I appreciate your dedication to the strict terms of the question.
posted by jedicus at 1:05 PM on April 28, 2014

In "Our Mrs. Reynolds", the Elder Gommen is sitting next to Jayne by the community campfire and he gives Jayne something that looks like a wooden log, about the size of a baseball bat. He says "It makes the rain come when you turn it .... The rain is really scarce. It only comes when needed most".

So you could have a rain stick that people have to grab and hold up if they want more to drink.
posted by cashman at 1:10 PM on April 28, 2014

Response by poster: I appreciate your dedication to the strict terms of the question.

To clarify: I mean I appreciate that people are leaving no stone unturned. Food and drink were not a major part of the series's setting, so we have to take what we can get. And even impractical or illegal references (horse meat, cannibalism) will make for good dinner conversation even if they aren't on the menu.
posted by jedicus at 1:35 PM on April 28, 2014

Best answer: OK, so I just re-watched the first episode, and here's a list of things that I pulled out as food related:

Mal makes reference to "going duck hunting".
Alliance Guy: "Low life vultures picking the flesh off the dead."
Wash: "a meal that included some form of food"
Inara & client: drinking a cup of something, likely tea?
Chickens at Eavesdown Docks
Good dogs, bbq thingy at the docks
Badger and the apple peeler thingy
Shepherd Book and the eventual strawberries
Mal: "last two jobs we had were 'weak tea'"
Mal: "Meals are taken up here in the dining area, kitchen's pretty much self explanatory, you're welcome to eat what there is any time. What there is is pretty standard fare, I guess, protein in all colours of the rainbow. We do have sit-down meals, next one's at about eighteen hundred."
Shepherd book offered to help cook.
"Welcome to visit the dining area at any time"
Book: gave Kaylee strawberries and a bag of something
Kaylee with the strawberry
vegetable stew, tomatoes, (risotto too according to the commentary) on the table.
"A man can live on packaged food from here until Judgement Day if he's got enough rosemary."
Jayne grabs some mashed potato before he stomps off when told off by Mal.
Mal: bite of tomato
Book brings Inara supper, but no lectures
Jaybe pours himself a drink during Simon's monologue.
Reaver cannibalism.
Mal: "Genuine A-grade foodstuffs" traded with Patience at Whitefall.
Jayne: "buzzards the only one's gonna find him" - reference to dead lawman.
posted by Solomon at 1:40 PM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

My friends make badgers balls for shindigs.......

which are sausage balls, so they say
posted by Jacen at 4:25 PM on April 28, 2014

Response by poster: Lots of great answers. Thank you so much. We've decided to do something fun with the unlabeled cans: everyone is going to bring an unlabeled can of vegetables, then we're going to open them all and try to make something out of it.
posted by jedicus at 10:58 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

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