Category Archives: Itami Juzo

Food, Sex, and the West in Tampopo

A man and woman share an egg in an intimate embrace

A man and woman share an egg in an intimate embrace

In the Japanese film Tampopo, director Juzo Itami uses food, ramen noodles in particular, to highlight the explosion of new goods and the emergence of a consumer culture during the Bubble Era in Tokyo and the consequential drowning out of long-standing Japanese traditions. The film follows a young Japanese woman, Tampopo, on her quest to turn her small restaurant into the best ramen noodle joint in all Japan. Itami plays on the western genre in conjunction with a salute to ramen noodles and Japanese food in general to emphasis the collision of two opposing cultures. A reoccurring theme that best demonstrates this cultural mingling is food as a driving force in sex.

The above clip is taken from one of the film’s odd sex scenes. In this particular case, a man and a woman are standing in an uncomfortable yet intimate embrace passing an egg between each other’s mouths. With each exchange they grow more and more excited until finally the women breaks the egg between her teeth and lets the yoke run down her chin in a fashion that mocks the overcoming feelings of ecstasy and sexual release experienced after an orgasm. This, without question, was one of the stranger scenes in the film and elicited nervous laughs throughout the class. However, this scene is extremely important in combining the undeniable human need for food for survival with raw sexual desire. Through the use of food as a stimulant, Itami demonstrates that these desires are closely linked and that eating food can bring a person the same deal of pleasure as can a sexual act. Itami also demonstrates that eating should be a celebrated experience that is intended to bring the consumer great satisfaction and happiness.

This scene is also significant in that it represents the complicated relationship between the Western world and Japan during the Showa Era. During this postmodern time, Japan was the world’s second largest economy. This resulted in an overflow of money, people, and goods from overseas into Japan. Because of this explosion of new cultures and ideas, Japan quickly adopted the mentality of “out with the old” in order to remain relevant. The man and women’s intimate sharing of the egg can be interpreted as the unstable and uncomfortable relationship between the West and Japan at this time and their sharing of ideas, goods, and cultures. The man is the West and stands dominate over its Japanese counterpart, as depicted by the woman. However, the relationship grows more equal and intimate as they stand with locked arms and faces pressed together. This represents Japan’s growing importance to the West as it began to emerge as a world super power. The final breaking of the yoke in the woman’s mouth emphasis Japan’s subordinate role to western powers and how it was unable to maintain all of its roots and traditions during this time.

In this way, Itami brings food to the forefront of cultural importance in Japan during the Bubble Era by using it to represent both our primitive desires as well as the fragile yet intimate relationship between Japan and the West.

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Food, Chance, and Desire

           Filmed during the bubble era, Tampopo is an exploration of food and the way it transcends all aspects of life and society. As the audience, we follow a stream-of-consciousness approach that flows and ebbs from the central story of Tampopo’s noodles to glimpses at the lives of others, including the well-dressed gangster who begins the movie by breaking the fourth wall. In one such vignette, the gangster buys an oyster from a diver, cutting his lip and experiencing unexpected intimacy in the process.

           The gangster symbolizes the Western culture that pervaded Japanese society during the 1900s. He eats sophisticated Western cuisine and wears a suit, the iconic Western outfit, rather than showing traditional yakuza fashion such as full-body tattoos. By being Japanese and conspicuously Western at the same time, he represents the Western influence on Japan, which was especially prominent in the 1980s due to the bubble economy, which introduced all manner of Western products into Japan. On the other hand, the pearl diver represents the roots of ancient Japanese culture. Diving for pearls and seafood, or ama, is a Japanese tradition that dates back two thousand years. Ama also dive without diving gear, a nod to the ways of old. Therefore in the two shot, we see a juxtaposition of the new and the old, as well as of the West and the East. Even more significantly, in the screenshot, the gangster is bending over the diver’s hand, as though kissing it as part of Western etiquette, when he is in fact eating from it. The stark difference between the perceived politeness and the actual intimacy of his action reflects the ability of food to reach all extremes of society.

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The gangster and the diver share a moment of perhaps yet-unrealized intimacy.

           Food is also shown to invert hierarchies, or perhaps to be completely ignorant of them, since in the scene it is the diver, and a woman at that, who is performing the sale and who initiates the kiss rather than the gangster. This impression is strengthened by the fact that even prior to the kiss, the gangster bends down to suck the oyster from the diver’s hand, again inverting their respective heights and perceived power. This scene, then, illustrates Itami Juzo’s belief that Japan was not necessarily inferior to its Westernization. The oyster is used to show the links between the two cultures and the return of even Western influence to Japanese tradition.

            Through this scene, Itami Juzo drives the return to tradition even farther back. When the gangster cuts his lip on the oyster, he presents the original and animalistic concept of food. The drop of blood on the oyster is similar to the blood spots sometimes found in chicken eggs, which in turn remind us that food can trace its beginnings to the bloody cycle of life, death, and carnal desire. This is also reflected in that the blood on his lip may also foreshadow the gangster’s imminent demise. Apparently drawn to his bleeding lip, the pearl diver first licks the cut, savoring it like food, before moving in to kiss the gangster fully. The gangster also eats directly from the hand of the diver, disregarding polite distance and setting the stage for a closer bond. Though the diver’s exclamation, “It tickles!” may seem platonic, the presence of blood paves the way for the carnal desire that follows. Additionally, the intimacy of licking each other’s wounds shows empathy, another form of human connection that grows, in this case, into sexual desire.

           The eroticism of the scene is slowly realized, but Itami Juzo lays out its foundations early on. The sexual connotation of oysters is evident, and the pearl diver herself is a Japanese feminine symbol, as ama are almost always women. Moreover, divers traditionally dive in only a loincloth, raising the sexual context of the situation despite how the diver in Tampopo is actually dressed. The eroticism stresses the intimate relationship between Westernized Japan and its old traditions, as well as the key role that food plays in intertwining the two.

           While the erotic power of food is previously illustrated by the “foodplay” between the gangster and his moll, the oyster scene is particularly distinctive for its sense of serendipity. That a simple oyster purchase between two strangers can escalate into a soulful kiss seizes the moment and delves, presenting a crescendo of a chance meeting transforming into a raw and sexual moment. The scene is used to demonstrate the pleasure of consuming food, as well as the brief but intimate relationships food establishes. Furthermore, food is also shown in this scene to overturn hierarchies by virtue of chance, thus facilitating instead a return to basic human desires and tradition.

Ramen: An Innocent Meal

Even if Tampopo wasn’t necessarily your ideal bowl of ramen, it would take a rather cynical individual to not admire Juzo Itame’s tasteful interpretation of an evolving Japanese cuisine. At its heart, Tampopo is a tale of struggle and triumph, driven by the innocence of Tampopo (a small-time ramen chef) who perfects her ramen cooking abilities. Through the magic of cinematography, food becomes subject to its context. Itame skillfully weaves through different images of Japanese cuisine, all of which carry distinct references to Japan’s culinary landscape.

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In one scene, an old lady squeezes a ripe peach until it seems to lose its value, much to the dismay of the store owner. The scene continues with a very satirical cat-and-mouse pursuit, until the owner finally catches the old lady red handed. In ways, this scene conveys the sense of innocence typically associated with traditional foods. Furthermore, it could also represent the struggle between so-called high and low culture foods in modern Japanese cuisine.

Itame uses a satirical approach to help portray the innocence of food as the old lady is being chased by the store owner. In a sense, the scene alludes to Tom and Jerry, Hannah-Barbara’s iconic Sunday morning family fixation. Such an allusion promotes the thought of childish innocence and warmth often found in traditional foods. Itame’s choice to use an old lady solidifies this idea. She seems to be looking for something specific in her food, but seems unable to find it. Could she be looking for the innocence food has lost as Tokyo ascended modern food’s globalized plane?

Itame comically adds to this through his editing. Much like a high-stakes action movie, the scene uses quick cuts in between frames. After all, the store owner is after the bad guy. Using images such as close-ups of the store owner with the old lady quickly moving through the background creates a sort of Bond-esque spy thriller. Disappointingly, the old lady stops when she receives a slap on the hand with a fly swatter. In my opinion, Itame’s chase is not limited to the store owner and the old lady, but the underlying chase of an older Japan and the innocence of the food it once held so dear. A struggle seen clearly in the contradicting nature of high and low culture foods. Nevertheless, Tampopo’s pursuit of ramen, which in its essence is the most basic of Japanese dishes, rekindles this sense of innocence. Ramen is Food that is mutually loved for its sincerity, rather than its adherence to a vision of a global food city.

This struggle between low and high culture foods is the essence of Itame’s film. Whether it is Tampopo herself, or through this very scene, Itame constantly reminds the audience that food is one of the most sincere forms of culture. Losing this could be as devastating to culture as losing a language. In a way, food is language. It speaks through its innocence, its love and even today as a rather dominant form of high culture. Tampopo is not just about how to make ramen, but if it was, I’m pretty sure I would make a pretty good bowl if I was asked…

Tampopo: Connections and Broken Boundaries

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Random man in the theater breaking boundaries by making noise by eat chips, causing a confrontation between him and Yakusho Koji’s character.

I felt that the most important scene in the movie is the beginning scene. This is when Yakusho Koji enters and introduces the tool of Tampopo—food. When he comes in he has a table set up with a basket of food. It is presented to the audience again when he asks them, “What are you eating?” We see this tool being put to use for the first time when he begins to talk about people eating chips and making noise in the theater. As soon as he states this, someone breaks the barrier by eating chips causing a brief confrontation to commence.

This scene is vital because it shows what to expect from the movie by setting the tone, genre, as well as by introducing food as the media through which messages will be conveyed. Throughout the movie we get the sense that food isn’t only a necessity, but a luxury that sets and breaks barriers as well as brings people together. It is important to note that though food is essential to the movie, Itami Jūzō uses it as a tool and not the focus. We see him and his girl brought together for a romantic dinner at the theater, showing the connection of people. Then we see the setting up of boundaries; no chips in the theater. The boundaries are broken as we see a random audience member eating chips thus breaking the aforementioned decree.

We see the connection with these ideas later in the movie as well. First we see people brought together with food, as we see the two men pull over for ramen. The ramen is continuously used to bring people together through the journey to teach Tampopo how to make the “perfect” ramen. We see food connecting the men on the street as well. This connects back to the beginning theater dinner and later to the date between main characters. The beginning scene gets us prepared for the mood and use of food making us more accepting and prepared for what is to come.

Another link we see between the first scene and the rest of the movie are barriers being broken by food. We see this in the meeting as the rookie who messes up several times but then he nonchalantly orders French food with an expertise that surpasses his superiors; surprising them and the audience. This is taboo since you aren’t supposed to show up your superiors. The rookie breaks the social barrier of what is expected of him as an underling. We also see this theme of breaking boundaries through food with the old lady in the grocery shop; going against the upper-class by damaging high-class foods.

These thematic ideas are reoccurring and the first scene gives the audience a bit of an idea as to what to look for and expect. Food is something everyone can relate to, so Itami Jūzō uses it to break the preconceptions people have and also uses it to show how it can bring people together. This scene also gives insight to the tools and messages that the Itami Jūzō wants his audience to come away understanding.

Relationships and Food

In Itami Juzo’s film Tampopo, social hierarchies are deconstructed and communities are built through the cooking and shared consumption of food. While the scene featuring the man and the oyster diver does not involve any of the main characters, or even any named characters, it is of central importance to the film because it most clearly demonstrates the idea of forging new and unorthodox social relationships through food.

The shot is framed such that the two characters share an equal amount of space onscreen and therefore are visually suggested to be equally significant. It is shot straight-on, thereby emphasizing the two people and their interaction as opposed to anything else that might be going on in the scene. The equalizing of these two players in the scene is notable if we take into account who they actually are. The man seems to be of a higher social class, judging by his attire and how he readily offers to buy one of the oysters. The woman, on the other hand, is a oyster diver, a laborer of a lower social class. However, the shot ignores these distinctions of social class, instead giving the same consideration to both the man and the woman with its equalizing camera angle and composition.

Examining the characters themselves, although their styles of dress clearly distinguish them as belonging to different social spheres, there is still a sense of similarity in the way Itami presents them. So while their styles of dress are obviously different, their color schemes coordinate. The choice of wardrobe brings them into visual unity, underlining how these two different people are brought into contact and how they connect in this scene despite their social backgrounds.

In roughly the center of the shot is the point of physical contact between the man and the woman. By placing this in the center, Itami emphasizes how these two people of different social classes come into contact through the act of eating an oyster. The two people are not only sharing food in this scene, they are sharing it in an incredibly intimate and visceral manner. Thus one of the prominent themes of Itami’s film comes through clearly in this shot. Through sharing and consuming food, people are brought together—more notably, people of disparate social classes and backgrounds are brought together, coming into literal, physical contact through the medium of food. The idea of food bridging social divides is made clear by the physical intimacy of the interaction in this shot.

Also notable is the woman’s reaction to the physical contact in this scene—it tickles, but instead of pulling away from the man, she maintains contact and reacts by laughing. This emphasizes the physicality of their interaction, but it also becomes an expression of happiness and joy at their shared experience and the bond that is created through it.

Although this particular shot may be an odd choice considering it has nothing to do with the eponymous Tampopo or any of the other main players in the narrative, this particular vignette brings the ideas of community- and relationship-building to the forefront, making it visually obvious through an intimate, tangible, physical interaction between two people of differing social classes.

The Ramen Master

Tampopo Ramen Master

The young man observes the ramen master meticulously take his first bite of pork.

Itami Jūzō’s film Tampopo (1985) explores the struggle of a single mother, Tampopo, to improve her Tokyo ramen shop and beat out the competition. Two truck drivers approach her ramen shop, and (after a western style showdown) the two strangers eventually become Tampopo’s ramen-teachers. Within Tampopo’s story to become a master in making ramen, Itami includes vignettes that showcase the different relationships between Japanese people and food. A few relationships Itami illustrates are food as a source of pleasure, food as the foundation of a community, and food as a symbol of status in the business culture in Japan.

The most important scene in the film is the scene of a ramen master teaching a young man how to properly eat ramen. The importance of this scene is mostly due to the fact that it is the first scene in the film depicting a relationship between characters and food. It also is significant because Itami reveals the relationship between Japanese tradition and modernity in society. The mise-en-scene illustrates this contrast between tradition and modernity. The ramen master’s actions are very stoical and he dresses in traditional Japanese attire. Contrastingly, the young man has a modern haircut and is wearing a “western” style shirt. His actions are more animated and slightly boorish. Another aspect of the mise-en-scene is the background: the customers vary in age and their varying clothing suggests different lifestyles. The customers are an important part of the mise-en-scene because throughout the film, Itami depicts ramen as a food that brings many different people together—representing the theme of community and relationships. The camera angles are also as significant as the mise-en-scene. The scene begins with an extreme long shot of Tokyo, switches to close-ups of the two men eating ramen and includes close up shots of the ramen itself. The camera angle pans into the close up of the ramen, creating dramatization of the food—making the ramen seem even more distinguished.

Classical music begins to play as the master teaches the young man how to eat ramen. This is quite comical, since ramen is known to be a cheap common dish equivalent to fast food. Itami’s concept of depicting ramen as a highly detailed dish that requires meticulous and strategic eating habits, illustrates the merging of tradition and modernity. Traditionally ramen was a comfort food; however, in modern society ramen has more popularity and prominence. In history, specifically in the Meiji restoration, Japanese associated French cuisine as a symbol of high status and prestige. In a later scene in Tampopo, there is a business meeting that includes French cuisine reestablishing the high-society connotation of French cuisine in Japan. Through the lesson on ramen etiquette, Itami portrays ramen at an equal level to French cuisine.

In the ramen master’s scene, Itami establishes ramen as a delicacy that requires appreciation. This is supported by Tampopo going through so much training to rebuild her ramen shop and find the best recipe for her signature ramen menu. Therefore, this scene is the foundation of Tampopo’s journey.

How Pastiche Holds A Film Together

Itami Juzo’s film Tampopo features a unique structure combining numerous vignettes to satirize numerous and varied topics. There’s awkward but humorous scenes of romance, fourth-wall breaking, and moments of cultural subversion that all come together to form a commentary on 1980’s Japanese culture. These scenes would feel completely random and disjointed if there was not a strong center  to hold it together, here provided by the story of a woman becoming the best ramen chef around. By taking the title of “Spaghetti Western” literally and turning the subject into noodles told through the lens of that genre’s stereotypes, Itami creates a light-hearted tone that permeates the film and makes it work for the audience.

Ramen shop or frontier saloon?

Ramen shop or frontier saloon?

This scene, where Goro and Gun come into Tampopo’s restaurant for the first time and defend her by picking a fight with Pisken and his goons, is the most important in the film by establishing the film as a pastiche of Spaghetti Westerns more than any other segment. Goro is the mysterious drifter who comes into a run down bar with belligerent patrons and defends the weak. His clothing strongly evokes the style of a cowboy, with a wide brim hat and a loose fitting shirt. His attitude, demonstrated by his peaceful drinking of the ramen broth before he gets into a brawl, sets Goro as a stereotypical wise and mysterious Western hero. The victimized Tampopo represents the kind townspeople in Westerns who have to deal with belligerents like Pisken. The shop itself is similar to the run-down frontier saloons in the genre.

This ramen shop scene also establishes a visual style for the film. Black and white serve as visual themes throughout the scene, separating bad characters from good ones. Pisken’s goons are dressed entirely in black, making them blend in against the dark grey walls and dim lighting of the shop, itself an analog to a seedy bar from a Spaghetti Western. Conversely, Goro, Gun, Tampopo, and future ally Pisken are all dressed in white shirts, aprons, or headwear, highlighting them as the heroes of the film. This simplistic color scheme and symbolism contributes to the light-hearted tone.

The visual and plot parallels to Spaghetti Westerns in this early scene make the film work. This scene, the first of the central plot in the film, is where the genre’s influence is at its strongest. The actions of the characters and the visual style set the tone as light and similar to that of a fairy tale, where characters and plot are simple and the absurd and humorous parts can come naturally without being jarring alongside fighting and entrepreneurial espionage. The strength of this scene allows for unrelated and downright absurd scenes to fit into a cohesive product. If the film took itself seriously and did not have this scene, how would the audience react to scenes like the egg swapping and clam romance?  The film would lose its identity and cease to be a classic.

A Woman’s Worth

A satiric comedy surrounding noodles, a cultural message uplifting rāmen, a simplistic medium appreciating food, Juzo Itami’s Tampopo explores a traditional topic of Japanese compassion towards food. The movie cultivates an ingenious experience for audience members—involving scenes of food adoration and food promiscuity. The main story involves a sagacious truck driver helping to stimulate an unqualified business: Tampopo’s rāmen shop. Woven into this principal storyline, a variety of vignettes highlights a deeper understanding of food, love, and relationships.

During the 1980s—the movie completion time—Japan not only absorbed a foundation of economic prosperity and financial affluence, but it also developed an increased involvement with aspects of international affairs and cultures. Because of Japan’s participation in globalization, it began to insert the trending dogma of a feministic revolution: a movement and ideology that establishes equal, social rights for women. Nevertheless, the transformation of Tampopo’s social status exemplifies the conversion of Japan’s social hierarchy—where women begin to assert their prominence as succeeding members of society. Itami generates Tampopo as a symbol for the feministic rise in Japanese culture.

Tampopo pleads her case.

Tampopo pleads her case.

First expressing women as dependent and vulnerable, Tampopo manipulates Tampopo as the conventional stereotype of Japanese women: unimportant and fragile. Thus, the most important scene in the movie involves Tampopo recognizing her need for an instructor—someone who nourishes her ability to become an effective, independent woman. She starts to profess, almost to beg, her desire for a rāmen master. In comparison to Japanese women holding a low social standing, Tampopo literally remains below Goro—the truck driving, rāmen teacher—to plead her hunger for success. Her hidden appearance behind the truck door indirectly resembles the hidden potential that Japanese women carry. The moment when Tampopo begs Goro for his lessons epitomizes the realism of how women were viewed in Japan: Men asserted their power and strength while women were perceived weaker and helpless. The position of each character gives more insight into the Japanese hierarchy—Goro sits higher, looking down, to signify man’s superiority over all others; Tampopo stands below, staring up, to suggest woman’s struggle to insert distinction and influence. However, Tampopo sheds a small light of hope: With an abundance of aspiration and determination, Japanese women have full control and vigor to equalize Japanese men. She clutches a yearning to thrive in Japanese society, giving her a leading position in the social, feministic revolution.

Tampopo revels her newfound success.

Tampopo revels her newfound success.

After a series of learning experiences and growing pains, Tampopo matures into the independent, efficacious woman that surrounds her potential. Just as it took time for her to obtain respect, it also took time for Japanese women to gain reverence in their respective culture. This represents the most important scene because it illustrates the burning will that Tampopo—a symbol for ambitious, Japanese women—embraces: She craves parity. She wants a rāmen shop that envelops customers’ hearts and taste buds. Her progress and maturity sets the movie in motion, developing an atmosphere of fortitude. This whole scene lays the foundation of not only a feministic, growth movement, but also Tampopo’s character development.

Do you know the right way to eat Ramen?

Tampopo, a Japanese movie directed by Juzo Itami, is about a single mother tampopo who runs a ramen restaurant but is struggling with its business. One day, tampopo meets a guy called Goro, and Goro figures out that the reason why tampopo’s ramen isn’t very popular is because the taste of ramen is bad. With Goro’s help, tampopo starts to learn how to make decent ramen in order to gain her customers back. In this movie, Juzo Itami uses food as the main theme, as well as uses lots of characters with different personalities, talks about the relationship between food and people. Other than that, he also wants the audience to pay attention to Japanese food customs in this movie. Therefore, Juzo Itami inserts some little details about ramen eating customs and uses those details to show that Japan is a country that emphasizes on keeping their good customs.

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In the beginning of this movie, there is a scene which is hilarious but catches everyone’s eyes. A guy is reading a book and the book is about how to eat ramen.  The “right way” to eat ramen almost makes everyone laugh. Even though the “right way” to eat ramen sounds silly, it not only reflects the Japanese eating custom, but also reflects one of the Japanese traditions, which is to show respect to the food and to the people whoever cook the food. According to some other Japanese eating customs, for example, before Japanese eat their meals, they always say “いただきます” (I am about to eat the food in front of me) to show the gratitude for the food they about to eat and after they are done, they say “ごちそうさまでした”(It was a feast), which is another phrase of appreciation, means that it has been a feast whether the food was really a feast or not matters little.

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In this scene, those people are doing the same thing, drinking up their ramen soup. When Japanese people eat ramen, they usually finish their soup because they they think that the soup represents the best part of ramen. Furthermore, they want to show respect to people who make their ramen and this action also shows that they don’t waste food.

Other than the specific ramen eating style, in Japanese tea ceremony and Japanese art of flower arrangement, both of two activities have specific ways to performance. In Japanese tea ceremony, the aim is to forget all disturbing thoughts and respect the relationship between the hosts and the guests.  During the processes of both Japanese tea ceremony and flower arrangement, each action looks simple but when people connect a series of actions together, these actions seem long and complicated, but they also represents that Japanese never give up keeping their good customs and aim to spread good customs all over the world. Besides, they also want their young generations to know more about Japanese customs, traditions, and cultures through different kinds of activities.

Tampopo is not only a comedy, but also teaches people certain kinds of things about food as well as food customs. The director Juzo Itami wants everyone who has watched this movie to know more about Japan, Japanese people and Japanese traditions. By introducing the way to eat ramen, Juzo Itami also wants to tell people that Japan is a country that never stops working on keeping good customs.

Tampopo: Around the Dinner Table

Just a short vignette from the movie Tampopo becomes one of the most touching scenes. Juzo Itami introduces the inevitable and despairing theme of death, yet is also able to show how much happiness can be taken from some of your last moments. In this scene, a man hurriedly runs home to his wife on her sickbed. In a slight state of denial, he insists that she get up and cook him and their three children dinner. Without hesitation, this mother and wife cooks her last meal and watches her family eat her food exuberantly before she passes away.

This family enjoys their last meal together.

This family enjoys their last meal together.

Although undoubtedly one of the saddest scenes of the movie, the joy displayed by the family transcends the feeling of death. These last moments of happiness center on the pervading theme of the movie: food. Food is a way to connect, a way to show kindness, a way to feel a heightened sensuality; food is universal. The family in this scene decides to spend their last night together gathered around the dinner table, enjoying a delicious meal. This is certainly not how I think about spending my last day, yet the smile of the dying mother right before passing is undeniably genuine. The close up on the mother shows that her smile is one of no regrets. It’s enough for her to see her family happy. While watching this scene, I realize something that’s easy to forget when we all become obsessively immersed with our lives; some of the simplest, essential things such as a meal with family can bring the most happiness.

A humble smile, stemming from her joy of seeing her family enjoying her cooking.

A humble smile, stemming from her joy of seeing her family enjoying her cooking.

Some of my best memories of my dad are of the dishes that he’s cooked for me and my family. As food engages all of our senses, food becomes something incredibly memorable. Just cooking a meal for someone shows how much you care about them. The heart that goes into making food seems like it radiates out from the steam that escapes a dish. Feeling the heat hit my face gives me such warmth. As the three children devour their food, do they realize how much joy their mother must feel? This mother and also wife clearly cares so much about her family that she wants to cook food for them despite being on her deathbed. This scene from the movie shows how food can take care of people, how food nourishes people. Even after death, the father prompts his children not to cry over their dead mother, but to simply enjoy this last meal that she has painstakingly cooked for them. After his wife is pronounced dead, he digs into his bowl with a revived rigor. Even though the scene may seem slightly exaggerated, it only serves to highlight the importance of food as a way to show care, happiness, and bonding.

The next time someone cooks for you, I hope you can see how much love and care was put into the food. Simply enjoy it!