Breaking Bread in Star Wars

In Game of Thrones, the significance of meals, soups, and stews cannot be overlooked. I love that important events happen around the table and eating: Joffrey gets murdered/poisoned during feast, the Red Wedding takes place during another feast, many of Olenna Tyrell’s witty and strong speeches are given over food, and some of the secret meetings often involve wine and tea cakes.

Food, in general, plays an important role in literature. Think about Alice in Wonderland with the Mad Hatter’s tea party or Chocolat where chocolate drives village folk to break their Lenten vows. How about Macbeth when he comes newly to the crown and has a feast (complete with scary visions)? And let’s not forget how Harry Potter was denied the ability to sit with his family to eat; often food was shoved into his broom cupboard, or later, his upstairs room, representing a denial of familial blood/bonds.

This of course got me thinking…what about Star Wars? Does Lucas put the same emphasis on meals as our literary friends? I’m going to take a look at the most important scenes involving food.

Let’s analyze!

 

Episode I – The Phantom Menace

The most important meal scene here would be when Qui-Gon, Padmé, and Jar Jar take refuge with Anakin and Shmi on Tatooine due to the sandstorm. This scene is very essential as it ties together some speculations, as we see Qui-Gon revealing to Anakin that he is a Jedi and Qui-Gon’s speculation that Anaking has Jedi reflexes due to the fact that he can drive (fly?) a podracer.

In one sense, it’s a meeting of the past and future. We see the old way of life and the Jedi Order with Qui-Gon Jinn. We see the future and the change in the galaxy with the meeting of this boy.

It’s also a moment where rich and poor come together. We see this clearly with Padmé who doesn’t understand slavery still exists, juxtaposed against Shmi who probably views her as a little naïve for not understanding the Outer Rim.

 

Episode II – Attack of the Clones

There are two specific meal scenes I want to focus on (sadly, I’d like to focus on when Anakin meets Padmé’s family, but since that was a deleted scene, I will keep it out of the picture (pun!)).

Meal 1: Anakin and Padmé on the Coruscant Freighter to Naboo

This is the first time we see Anakin and Padmé have a real, adult conversation that digs a little deeper into the Jedi life. Padmé teases the surface to see if Anakin’s flirtation could ever turn into something more substantial. We see them connect more as adults on an even playing field, versus what was happening earlier when Padmé was still trying to distance herself as the older and “wiser” of the two.

Here, too, there’s a connection of two different worlds and lifestyles meeting each other. There is the secular, political world which Padmé is a part of and the reclusive, temperate world that Anakin has sworn his life to.

Meal 2: Anakin and Padmé on Naboo

This meal is almost as if our characters were leveling up in a video game. They’ve approached each other with caution in Meal 1 and now they’re sparring flirtatiously (or should I say they’re having aggressive negotiations?) in Meal 2. The walls separating their worlds between them both have melted away a bit. Anakin now teases the Jedi and his master, Obi-Wan, slowly pushing aside their world. We see Padmé begin to pull Anakin into her world: not only are they literally on Naboo, her home planet, but also figuratively as he begins to grow more in love with her as a person.

Instead of two worlds meeting, we have two lives overlapping. This scene reminds me of a Venn diagram: Padmé, politics, wealth on one side with Anakin, Jedi, and isolation on another.

 

Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Nothing to note.

 

Rogue One

Nothing to note.

 

Episode IV – A New Hope

The only scene in this movie with a meal involves Luke conversing with Uncle Owen while Aunt Beru silently watches the exchange. It’s here where we find out that Luke has a father, who for some reason, is mysterious and not much is known about him. Luke also vents frustration about staying on Tatooine for another harvest.

The meal itself seems normal enough if you’ve ever had a meal with a teenager, but the difference with this meal is the emphasis on Luke’s father. Luke is clearly interested in knowing more and is intrigued by the detail that Old Ben knew him, but Uncle Owen squashes that conversation quickly.

The main difference in this meal is that while the meals in the Prequels are pulling people together, this meal seems to be pushing people apart.

 

Episode V – Empire Strikes Back

Meal 1 – Luke eats a meal in Yoda’s hut

Again, similar to ANH, this meal is one of discord and tension as opposed to harmony. Luke is impatient and wants to find a Jedi Master. This little green being has invited Luke into his home and is trying to be hospitable, to bring warmth and friendliness to the meal, but all Luke wants to do is leave. How horrible! It reflects so poorly on him. Yoda also seems to be gauging Luke to see if he will open up to becoming more patient and is testing him.

Instead, the meal falls apart to the point that when Yoda is revealed to Luke, Yoda almost refuses to train him. The two Force-sensitive beings are pushing apart at this meal instead of coming together as they should be to save the galaxy.

Meal 2 – Lando’s betrayal

There’s not much to this meal time, but damn is it memorable. This is the Star Wars version of the Red Wedding. Han and Leia think they are going to a friendly meal with Lando, only to find that he betrayed them all.

Interestingly though, this is the first and only time we really see formal dining in the Star Wars movies. If anyone is wondering how the meal turned out, you should watch this version.

Out of all the meals in the Star Wars movies, this has to be the biggest antithesis of what meal times should be. Meals should be about coming together, letting bygones be bygones (temporarily) and as we saw in the Prequels, worlds meeting in a friendly manner.

We definitely have different worlds meeting together in this meal, but it is the opposite of opening your mind, sharing warm conversations, and attempting to be friendly.

The Empire and the Rebellion stirred together with some betrayal left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. (That was the greatest line I’ve ever typed)

 

Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Though not necessarily a meal, I wanted to include the scene of Leia handing Wicket the rice cake because it speaks back to my theme of bringing different worlds together. In this instance, which is different from the Prequels, Leia’s act of sharing a meal with someone completely different is what saves her life and topples the Empire.

It is often mentioned that food is a great way to bring together different cultures, even if they cannot speak the same language. We see this with Wicket and Leia on Endor. Despite their differences, the food helps Wicket overcome his hesitation to befriend Leia. In turn, he helps her take down a scout trooper and she goes with Wicket to his village. This helps her save her friends (who were also going to actually become the meal), disable the shield around the Death Star and bring down the Empire. And this all became possible because of a rice cake, imagine that.

 

Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Meal 1 – Rey’s solitary meal

For obvious reasons, this meal was shown to emphasize that Rey was alone. She was a girl on a lonely, desolate planet. I think this meal, though it could have been cut from the movie, was important to show us how isolated she was on Jakku.

In some ways, eating meals by ourselves is sometimes viewed by others with pity. Not many people go to restaurants alone, and even eating at your desk sometimes feels a little shameful. As human beings, we were meant to eat as part of a community. Though, in some ways, I think the American culture has forgotten (or ignored this as we prefer to place an emphasis on being busy), we still put an importance on eating together on holidays.  At our root, our cultures like to take coffee breaks, tea breaks, water cooler breaks,  so that we have a chance to connect with other beings.

Rey’s act of eating alone in a desert (another place that often symbolizes lack of life) forces us to acknowledge how secluded she is.

Meal 2 – Maz Kanata’s castle

This meal mirrors the meal from TPM slightly. We have four people from greatly different worlds, pulled together around a table for a meal. Whereas TPM was a happen chance, this meal was forced by Han Solo. Finn is an ex-First Order Stormtrooper, Rey is a loner from Jakku, Han is a smuggler, and Maz is…a Force-sensitive being (and totally also a hoarder – say what you want, but if you read any description of her, she belongs on TLC).

This meal is a meeting of the worlds, but not an overlap. Everyone still has their boundaries firmly in place once they leave. Yet here at this meal, they learn a little bit more about themselves. Instead of learning about others as we saw in most of the meals in Star Wars, they each understand a bit more about who they are and what they may have to do.

 

I was hoping to come away from this analysis feeling like there was a deliberate reason for each meal scene in Star Wars. I think that’s the case for some, but not all.

What I enjoyed observing the most was that the meals in the Prequels were focused on bringing together people from very different ways of life, into an open discussion and understanding of each other.

With the Original Trilogy, meal times were focused more on strife, discord, and a sense of unbalance. The meals highlighted tension for our characters and the larger political scene at large. Leia’s sharing of the rice cake with Wicket is the only instance in the OT where we see something closer to what we saw in the PT.

With TFA, I think the meal scenes were much more deliberate and placed within the movie for a reason: to help us understand the characters better.

 

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaching, food plays an important part in our lives. Though we love to gather around our tables and eat during the holiday season, do we also keep an open mind and realize that at any meal, we have a meeting of the worlds? Do we try to keep ourselves from discord and tension (and hopefully betrayal)?

 

Did I miss any meals that you think should be part of this list?

 

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12 thoughts on “Breaking Bread in Star Wars

  1. I always get extra excited whenever I see a Star Wars discussion I’ve never considered before and I’ve never seen anything that explored the importance/use of meals in the films! As I began reading, my mind was drawn to what I teach my students in the beginning of our Church History course – how the meal was one of the tools Jesus used to bring the Kingdom of God into existence for a moment and show them a world of inclusion, without boundaries or borders. After reading this I want to go back and re-watch the films with an eye towards all of this.

    Given your analysis, I wonder if you can make the case that the meals reflect (intentionally or not) the state of the galaxy and/or the characters. In TPM and AOTC, you see meals where people are drawn closer together and a) the galaxy is yet to be torn asunder and b) the characters themselves are growing together. Then in ROTS the fracture is so great, the meal itself is completely absent. We get to ANH and ESB and see a) a galaxy in greater turmoil under oppression and b) characters struggling to find there place and fit into the larger scheme of things. And in ROTJ we see a meal bringing people together again.

    Okay, sorry this got so long and rambly :). I was just really, really excited by what you wrote and felt compelled to toss my thoughts out here. I love the post!

    1. Thank you so much for the comment! I worked hard on this one so I like it when ppl take the time to review and share their thoughts.

      I love your analysis on reflecting the galaxy’s state of being! I started this post with no idea what I’d discover and at the end, I feel like I discovered some stuff, but was missing a cohesive argument. I feel like you brought it all together with that comment.

      You didn’t mention TFA, and I feel like the meals there show singularity in the beginning, with a coming together of many different walks of life at maz’s place so maybe it’s showing the galaxy is beginning to realize they need to come together if they are going to fight the first order, no matter where they’re from.

      And I love long and rambly comments so feel free anytime!

      1. Oooo I love that TFA connection!!!! It’s perfect!!! You could also explore how, at Maz’s Palace, as you said we see all walks of life (smugglers, pirates, drifters, Resistance operatives, and First Order spies too) BUT they all aren’t ready to get along. So while the meal is one open to all, not everyone there to break bread is willing to be as egalitarian as the meal she offers. The First Order invasion and destruction can then help illustrate, in a dramatic way, the results of a broken table. Like you said, they must come together to defeat the First Order and, if the galaxy doesn’t, this sort of destruction will follow.

        As I was writing just now I wondered…do we see any eating at all during the celebration on Endor after the Death Star’s destruction? If so, that totally adds to your point about Wickett and Leia too.

        1. No! We don’t see any eating though I think it’s implied. I almost didn’t put the Leia/Wicket moment in because it’s not really a meal. But I like that exchange so much that I had to.

          I feel like this analysis could be now expanded into a full essay lol!

          1. I love the Leia and Wicket moment too :). But I also think it’s an important part of your analysis! In AOTC, we see meals between just Anakin and Padmé so the idea of just two people eating together is already important. In the context of ROTJ, it’s a small meal shared to establish a good relationship and great things will flow from it. So it can point to the growth of communion that can flow through the galaxy after the Alliance’s victory.

            You can keep expanding this too! Like I said above, I got so excited when I started reading this and discussing it with you has only made me more excited. I think you’ve opened a brilliant avenue for analysis here! Also, you’ve given me something new to be excited about when I see ‘The Last Jedi’!!

              1. Hahaha, yes. I keep imagining this horrible (yet funny) scene where Luke has exactly that – a porg or two roasting on a spit to his left and Rey notices it as she hands him the lightsaber. I also see them munching on porgs in the glow of a campfire. Then I see Chewie grabbing one and taking a big bite out of it raw. So, in my twisted imagination, Chewie takes a few with him not as pets but as a to-go order. I have issues :). But it would certainly setup a darker tone!

                1. I’d love to see that even though I *do* think the Porgs are cute – I’m trying to withhold judgement until TLJ is released. But I can’t help but think it would be so funny if they market them as super cute animals, but then they really are food for our heroes hahaha.

  2. This is such interesting analysis. Have to say that when I saw the title I thought to myself that most of the meal time scenes don’t have that warm hearty feel about them that one associates with a family meal. They are all very specific in function when you look at your list. Another great post with a unique take.

    1. One of my favorite deleted scenes is one where Anakin meets Padme’s family in AOTC. It has that “family meal” feeling and there is teasing and all around cuteness abounding. I’m sad it was cut as it shows a softer, more relatable side to Padme.

  3. What a cool analysis; I love how you showed that the PT and OT have different functions for the meal scenes. No mention of Dex’s Diner?? Haha. That’s not really a “meal” though. And though the Leia-Wicket interaction is positive, the other time we see Ewoks thinking about food, they are trying to roast the rest of the party. So, more strife haha.

    I love the Rey eating scene in TFA. It’s such good character development, and it gives the movie some room to breathe; I think some of the pacing in TFA is a bit too break-neck, so it’s nice to have something slow.

    1. I totally thought of Dex’s Diner but there was no eating involved (or breaking of the bread) so it didn’t make the cut. I also did think about the Ewoks and the roasting, but again, there was no actual eating on the screen so I also nixed that.

      I love the Rey scene too! It’s also this crazy calm before the storm. It’s a moment of on the cusp – where everything is about to change but she doesn’t know it.

      I actually liked the pacing of TFA, I thought it was well done. There were moments of breathing, like Maz’s castle and some scenes in the Falcon, but there was also a lot of action. The only part I didn’t like was the Rathtars.

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