Food styling photographs with steam is no problem. For stills, you can use any number of toxic chemical combos to great effect. But for steam in an eating scene, I regret to say the usual solution is tampons. (T28s in crew-talk). You camouflage them with food coloring, soak them in water, microwave them just before shooting and stuff them under the food. Voila, steam.
But I don’t like the potential for embarrassment or misogynistic snickering. Plus there’s nowhere in a clear broth to hide a honkin’ big tampon.
So I make my own little steam-poms. Fat pompoms made out of several shades of brown cotton wool, soaked in water, stuffed into Chinese black mushroom caps that have had the stems and spore gills scooped out. I give the wooly pompoms little brush-cuts so they resemble the excised spore gills.
Then, just before each take, we microwave them under plastic wrap and float them in the broth.
Wow, did you see that steam billow off the soup!!!!! You didn’t? Really? No? On the cutting room floor, you say? C’est la vie… [x]