Food is a basic requirement for life, but that simplicity has the power of telling our most personal stories, while bringing us together under that human need. It’s the same in anime as in our everyday, the universal pleasures of cooking and eating opening up to powerful narratives of healing, sharing and growing. On an even simpler level still, anime can make us happy in seeing characters we relate to being warmed by a big bowl of something that took ten minutes to make. It’s a reminder that our own worst days can be put right by a good meal. We celebrate all this and more with a list of our favourite foodie anime.
The enjoyment of eating is a powerful thing, giving precious moments to reflect on the day and be beholden to nothing but your own pleasure. Wakako might be one of the greatest zen sensei in anime, through her soft yet stern reminders not to be too greedy in life, not to ask for too much, but to remember to chill and give thanks for the simple emotional sustenance food brings.
We know this one isn’t so much a ‘cooking anime’, but for us, Sanji’s chefly prowess makes him the unsung champion of One Piece. His introduction to the Straw Hat piratical fold remains one of our favourite chapters of the whole series, and from that moment on, whenever he’s cooking, you know you’re in for a treat. He has the often thankless task of keeping our friends alive through feast and famine, and teaches us ways to be frugal but full when the cupboards are bare. Sanji is simply one of the tastiest things about the show. And in more ways than one, am I right?
Gourmet Girl Graffiti
Ryo Machiko has just lost her grandmother, and even though cooking and eating make up some of their happiest times together, she somehow can’t get her food to taste the same. Gourmet Girl Graffiti is a warm-hearted series about finding company and comfort in cooking, as Ryo makes new friends and gives herself a reason to be, even without her lost loved one, through using the skills she was gifted by that love.
Besides inspiring us to whip up a fair few dishes from its menu (we would recommend the Chaliapin steak from season one) Food Wars! became a symbol of the primal miracles of cooking. Especially as someone still learning in many ways myself, Megumi’s arc lights a fire under my own determination to be the best one-pot wonder cook I can be. There’s little more rewarding than raising a smile with a dish you’ve made from scratch. She and I have both realised that the drive to keep doing just that can fire your self-expression, making you more yourself through the everyday act of preparing a meal.
Sweetness and Lightning
Our own little one will be arriving soon, and so Sweetness and Lightning has become a handbook for how we’ll introduce her to all the excitement of food and cooking. Whether it’s showing her the adventures of life itself, lifting her spirits when they’re hurt, or helping her become a healthy angel who loves her veggies, we can’t wait until we can put the parenting lessons of this series into action. In the meantime, its absolute sweetness in moments of laughter and tears have kept dishing out reasons to be thankful for all we have to look forward to.
That’s our run-down of the most delicious anime, but we’ve chewed it over enough. Now, we want to know your favourites. Which are the anime, cooking-centric or otherwise, you know you can go back to for feeling full of feel-good? Let us know in the comments – we’re always hungry for recommendations.