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No-Face gloating over a floating table of food in Spirited Away. Image: Studio Ghibli

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What anime food would you bring to Thanksgiving?

Come on in, chew the fat, and chow down

Why does anime food always look so good? It’s a question that’s befuddled scholars since time immemorial (or err, at least as long as anime has been around), and one that always prompts anime fans to dish out about their absolute dream dishes from their favorite anime shows and movies every time it’s asked.

Thanksgiving is a holiday about many things, one of which happens to be eating whole platefuls of delicious food. With that in mind, we’ve come together to list off the anime meals we would most want to eat over the holiday weekend. Feel free to chime in comments on which of your favorite anime dishes you’d love to bring to dinner.

The ham cutlet ramen from Ponyo

(L-R) Ponyo and Sōsuke staring intently at two bowls of pork cutlet ramen in Ponyo. Image: Studio Ghibli

I have a confession to make: I’m not the biggest fan of a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. That’s not to say I would ever outright refuse to eat one. Like Moby Dick’s Ishmael, there is no one who will speak more respectfully of a broiled fowl once judiciously buttered and judgmatically salted and peppered.

For me, my personal holiday meal of choice is a well-glazed ham, which is why whenever I watch the scene in Ponyo of the red-headed mermaid girl and her human friend Sōsuke preparing to chow down on a yummy bowl of ham cutlet ramen, my mouth immediately begins to water. Ponyo loves ham almost as much as I do, which is one of the many reasons why I think we would get along famously. Studio Ghibli is well known for the many, many delicious looking meals that have appeared throughout its films, but Ponyo’s ham cutlet bowl is the one I would most want to eat on Thanksgiving. —Toussaint Egan

Howl’s Breakfast from Howl’s Moving Castle

An animated skillet of eggs and thick cut bacon simmering on a fire with a mouth and two eyes in Howl’s Moving Castle. Image: Studio Ghibli/GKIDS

Realistically, Howl’s kitchen is probably disgusting. The man leaves his house in a state of ruin which no one bothers to clean up til Sophie hobbles in. However, when that bacon starts to sizzle and the eggs crack, revealing perfect orange-yellow yolks… I can find it in my heart to overlook the gross living space. I covet those thick slabs of bacon more than any other piece of meat in the world. And those sunny-side up eggs! This is such a simple meal: bread, eggs, bacon (and egg shells, if you’re Calcifer). Yet I know that my attempted recreations will never come close to just how gorgeous it’s rendered on screen. —Petrana Radulovic

Nikaido’s Gyoza from Dorohedoro

Caiman holding a line gyoza potstickers between a pair of chopsticks in Dorohedoro Image: MAPPA/Netflix

You ever see a fictional depiction of food in a show that characters hype up so much that, with every on-screen mention, you want it try out yourself more and more? That’s how I feel about Nikaido’s Gyoza potstickers in Dorohedoro. Caiman, the lizard-headed protagonist of the series, can’t get enough of them, and neither it seems can the other oddball characters of Dorohedoro’s world who regularly pore into Nikaido’s restaurant. The Hole, the favela-like megacity in which the series is set, doesn’t exactly strike me as a gourmand’s paradise, but I would happily hop through a magical portal and brave its many horrors and oddities if it meant I could finally have the opportunity to discover what all the fuss is about. —TE

The Mapo Tofu Variants from Food Wars

A bowl of mapo tofu on a plate of rice and noodles in Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma: The Third Plate. Image: J.C. Staff

All of the food in Food Wars looks incredibly delicious on screen, from the fried chicken to even the bear(?) meat. But the dish that prompted me to roll up my sleeves and go to my own kitchen was the mapo tofu. Within the show, mapo tofu takes on many variations. There’s the classic form of the dish that Chinese cooking expert Kuga has perfected for his Moon Banquet Festival stall. And then there’s the eclectic variations that our fearless protagonist Soma innovates upon. They all look mouthwatering, and the animated food someone conveys that beautifully stinging Sichuan spiciness. When I took on the dish, I didn’t mess around with Soma’s curry noodles or meatball surprise. Instead, I went classic and it was so good.

(Here’s the recipe I used in case this is getting your mouth watering too). —PR

Calcifer’s Eggshells from Howl’s Moving Castle

A hand cracking an egg over a simmering skillet as a sentient flame munches happily on egg shells in Howl’s Moving Castle. Image: Studio Ghibli/GKIDS

Ghibli movies have the knack of making food look absolutely delicious; and this also applies to things that aren’t really food: by most human standards, anyway. I think often of the scene in Howl’s Moving Castle where Sophie plops a cast iron onto Calcifer — the castle-powering demon who also is a charismatic fire — and then starts cooking breakfast. Howl arrives in time to slap a few pieces of bacon on the pan, and crack a few eggs, feeding Calcifer the shells. Calcifer greedily crunches these shells, like they’re really tasty chips. Obviously he eats them because he’s a fire, and they’re kindling — like, yes, on a logical level I understand this to be true. But I also love crispy snacks, and every time I see this scene, it makes me wonder if those eggshells taste really good. It makes me, honestly, want to eat the eggshells.

And then I go back to my everyday, non-Ghibli life, only to crack eggs while making breakfast. And the shells do not look worth eating. If I existed within Howl’s Moving Castle’s world, I’d absolutely try them though. —Nicole Clark

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