Of Food in Films- Miso Soup
I have a penchant for food-themed movies – not so much documentaries such as Ei Sulli: Cooking in Progress or Jiro Dreams of Sushi, but films that tell stories of human emotion, culture and relationships- such as Eat Drink Man Woman and Ratatouille. A nicely done film would pepper the culinary elements into the narrative and give its audience a glimpse into humanity along with the glorious food that sustain it (yes, even when the main character is a mouse!)
I recently watched just such a film – “Hana’s Miso Soup”, directed by Tomoaki Akune. Adapted from a true story, it tells the tale of a Japanese woman, Chie, who makes a courageous decision to forgo cancer treatment to keep her pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby girl, Hana. After the birth, Chie’s cancer has advanced and both she and her husband race against time for a cure. They find hope in an alternative medicinal approach which prescribes a back-to-nature way of life. Among other lifestyle changes, homemade Miso Soup is an essential dish in their meals.
Miraculously, the cancer goes into remission – for a brief period. As Hana grows up, her mother has to battle with numerous relapses, even as she blogs about the challenges the family faces and how she deals with setbacks. As she anticipates her own passing, Chie is determined to prepare Hana to carry on without her. She makes sure that Hana is capable of preparing her own Miso Soup…
This film is a total tear-jerker, with a few light-hearted moments and many scenes of family preparing and having meals together. After all, food and dining are an important memory of time spent together.
And on the subject of whether Miso Soup possesses healing powers, there are indeed articles that detail the health benefits of Miso (味噌), the Japanese fermented soybean paste, which is a probiotic and a good source of various vitamins and folic acid (read here and here).
As far as I’m concerned, I just like my Miso Soup (done in any which way) and especially when it is served in a traditional Japanese breakfast set.