Into Tampopo's ramen-bar trundles trucker Goro who, Shane-like, offers to make her the finest noodle-chef in Tokyo. This involves a Seven Samurai-style gathering of talents, military regimentation, and industrial espionage. On to this loose structure, Itami grafts a plethora of comic vignettes whose sole link is their focus on food: a Zen lesson in the proper way to contemplate, caress, and devour pork noodles; how to enhance your love life with salt, lemon and cream; how to let dreams of yam sausages ease the onset of death. Itami's episodic satire bulges with invention, ranging from a continuing concern with Japanese concepts of correct behaviour to numerous quirky movie parodies (from Western, gangster and sex films to Seven Samurai and Death in Venice). It is often very amusing, although the ragged, free-wheeling structure tends to blunt Itami's somewhat obvious thesis, that eating is more closely connected to sex than we would normally admit. Spasmodically effective rather than bitingly funny.