You like baking right? How do you feel about the various ‘food’ pokemon? What food do you think deserves a Pokemon adaptation?
Well, how many even are there? Vanillite, Vanillish and Vanilluxe, Swirlix and Slurpuff… I think that’s kind of it, unless you count Grass Pokémon based on fruit and mushrooms and the like, which personally I’d class as a separate thing. I have kind of mixed feelings about them, because I’m not fundamentally opposed to the idea of food-based Pokémon like some people are, but actually developing that idea in any moderately interesting way is something Game Freak would probably be uncomfortable with. That’s why Vanillite isn’t really an ice cream Pokémon at all, just a fairly generic ice-and-snow Pokémon that happens to be shaped like an ice cream for obscure reasons of its own. Swirlix does better, but still runs up hard against the awkward question – “do we eat Pokémon?” – that the Pokémon games have no intention of ever firmly answering. So Slurpuff end up working for human pastry chefs, constructing grotesque effigies of themselves, whose flavours are inspired by the taste of their own sugary flesh, for human consumption. And then you also run up against another problem that I tend to have with Pokémon based on modern culture generally, which is “are we supposed to believe that the Pokémon inspired the cultural phenomenon, and what on earth is the timeline with that?” It’s easy to make that work with Pokémon based on myths and folklore because you can just push everything back into the misty past of “thousands of years ago” but if you have, say, a hamburger Pokémon or something, we eventually have to ask: what kind of colossally fµ¢&ed up soylent-green-ass cultural moment caused people to suddenly decide, in the last couple of generations, to start modelling meat sandwiches after these intelligent creatures that they’ve been living and working alongside since time immemorial? Who does that?
(See also here on Pokémon as food)
Having said all that, though, I am genuinely interested in food in the Pokémon world more broadly, separate and distinct from Pokémon with explicitly food-related designs. Out here in the real world, I have a saying. There are exactly two things in this godawful bleak mess of a universe that make like worth living – good food and conversation – and wherever the two meet, that’s where civilisations begin. Specialty dishes are a hugely important part of most cultures’ identities; all over the world we regard what (and often how) you eat and drink as a signifier of civilisation or barbarism. Tea and cake are an emblem of the English upper class. Vegetarianism and veganism spark more arguments than just about any other lifestyle choice in all creation. Practically every town in Italy has its own specialty pastry. Whether or not it’s okay to eat dogs is a point of bitter contention between Euro-American and East Asian or Pacific cultures. The ancient Greeks had three staple food crops, and a god for each one (Demeter for wheat, Athena for olives, Dionysus for grapes). And in a lot of fantasy fiction we don’t really see that, because people don’t realise how important it is – like, people joke about George R.R. Martin’s elaborate descriptions of food in A Song of Ice and Fire because they’re so extravagant compared to the attention that stuff normally gets in the genre, but honestly I think that kind of lavish attention to detail is entirely appropriate for a mediaeval society, where even the leftovers of a Lannister or Tyrell banquet might represent the best meal an average peasant would have in their life. There are a bunch of fun little hints to regional cuisines in Pokémon, like the “local specialty” items (Lavaridge lava cookies, Mahogany candy bars, Lumiose galette, the infamous Old Gateau), Kalosian Pokè-puffs and Sinnohan poffins, as well as the increasingly elaborate descriptions of restaurant food that we see in more recent generations when our characters decide to sit down for a bite to eat. One of these days (after finishing generation VII, of course) I would love to write an article or a short series on all the different foods we see in the Pokémon games, just to see if I can make anything of it. Might even be interesting to try concocting some recipes of my own.