Nothing defines a Studio Ghibli film more than food. The internet is filled to the brim with fan posts and appreciation of the dishes appearing in the films. They include tumblr posts, Instagram accounts recreating some of the dishes, listicles, and video montages. Some think pieces analyse these foods in a cultural and historical context. This piece is an attempt to classify all the existing dishes according to the food pyramid.
Carbohydrates are the dominating food groups in Studio Ghibli’s food canon. Rice, an Asian staple in meals, appears in films such as the onigiri and rice bowl in Spirited Away, the bento boxes in My Neighbor Totoro and From Up on Poppy Hill, and the okayu in Princess Mononoke. Bread, usually found in Western culture, is part of the Studio Ghibli world. There’s the baguette paired with cheese in Howl’s Moving Castle. Sandwiches can be found in Ponyo, Tales From Earthsea, and Howl’s Moving Castle. Fried eggs on toast are enjoyed in Castle in the Sky. Burgers are gobbled in Pom Poko.
Noodles, particularly ramen, are prominent in Ponyo and Whisper From the Heart. The characters of Porco Rosso gobbled spaghetti for dinner.
Energy-giving foods aren’t just limited to the savoury. Sweet treats are feasted as well. Steamed buns make an appearance in Spirited Away. Kiki’s Delivery Service has pancakes, pastries, and herring pie. When Marnie Was There has cookies.
With most films taking place in the countryside, there’s no shortage of fresh fruits in Studio Ghibli. There are only six whole fruits and vegetables. Other fruits or vegetables are included as ingredients. Notable appearances include the corn and fresh vegetables in My Neighbor Totoro, the pineapple and banana in Only Yesterday, and the tomato and watermelon in When Marnie Was There.
Seafood and eggs are the main protein source for Studio Ghibli characters. Shrimps, lobsters, and fish like salmon are served as deep-fried, in a platter, as a topping, or drowning in bechamel or any sauce. These are seen in From Up On Poppy Hill, Spirited Away, Porco Rosso, and The Wind Rises. Eggs are often the garnish in ramen as shown in Ponyo and Whisper of the Heart. It is a breakfast staple in When Marnie Was Here, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Cat Returns, and Castle in the Sky. The Secret World of Arrietty cooks steak for dinner. Soups are simple but hearty meals. Castle in the Sky and The Secret World of Arrietty can attest to that. Kiki’s Delivery Service served milk porridge.
The foods at the top of the pyramid are high in calories and should be consumed sparingly. There are different cake varieties in the Studio Ghibli filmography: chocolate cake in Kiki’s Delivery Service, siberia sponge cake in The Wind Rises, tiramisu in Spirited Away, and strawberry cake in My Neighbors the Yomadas. Sweets such as chocolate and candies are consumed in Spirited Away and Grave of the Fireflies, respectively. Honey, an alternative sweetener, is dripping in Ponyo.
This food pyramid is not the most comprehensive. A dedicated and thorough viewing of the entire Studio Ghibli filmography is needed to produce the complete list.