Making Ramen “Itami Style”

When it comes to capturing the sensory pleasures of food on film, it’s hard to beat Juzo Itami’s mouthwatering 1985 “ramen western” Tampopo. A mix of wicked humor and surreal eroticism, this culinary odyssey follows a widowed noodle-shop owner and the band of truck drivers who help her on her quest to become a first-class chef. Along the way, Itami fills the screen with a cavalcade of gastronomic delights. To ensure that each bowl glistened to perfection, the director enlisted the help of food stylist Seiko Ogawa, who re-created a prewar, Tokyo-specific brand of ramen that would resonate nostalgically for the film’s characters. In the clip above, Ogawa discusses the choices that went into crafting the heroine’s ideal recipe—from the amount of fat in the broth to the gentle curves of the bowl—and explains how this attention to detail reflects Itami’s sharp aesthetic eye.

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