Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
The following is the preface from The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life. And be sure to read Ty Wenger’s interview with author Andy Raskin.
“It is said that real human nature reveals itself under extreme conditions. As I starved in prison, I realized that eating was one of the highest forms of human activity. Perhaps I have to go back this far to trace the origins of the development of instant noodles, though I did not have the slightest idea for Chikin [sic] Ramen at the time.” -Momofuku Ando, Magic Noodles: The Story of the Invention of Instant Ramen
There used to be a Japanese TV show in which two young hosts—a male and a female—would scream, “I wanna ___!” They always filled in the blank with some crazy thing, like “sing a duet with Yasir Arafat!” Then they would go out into the world and try to do what they screamed about, with one catch. They had to go apo nashi—without an appointment.
Among the show’s best-known episodes were “I wanna eat Akashi-style dumplings with United Nations representative Yasushi Akashi!”; “I wanna officially change my first name, in honor of the Barcelona Summer Olympics, to Barcelona!”; and “I wanna get treated to sushi by the wife of the manager of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team!” In their most famous adventure, the hosts screamed, “I wanna trim Prime Minister Murayama’s eyebrows!” and Japan’s then highest official—an aging member of the Socialist Party—let them do it.
I was thinking of that show as the train sped from Kansai International Airport toward downtown Osaka, birthplace of Nissin Food Products. I was certainly arriving apo nashi. It had been two months since Mr. Yamazaki, a low-level employee in Nissin’s public relations department, stopped answering my e-mails. His silence suggested that there was very little chance I would get to meet Momofuku Ando, the ninety-four-year-old billionaire who, in 1958, invented instant ramen in his backyard.
As for why I wanted to meet Ando, I wasn’t entirely sure. I suspected, though, that it had something to do with my love life.
READ an interview with Andy Raskin
VISIT his website
BUY a copy of the book