This post will make no sense to most people who have not had the experience of being an impoverished student in the US. Very few who read this blog can relate to Top Ramen. But for those of you who do, I am sure you would be saddened to learn of the passing of Momofuku Ando, who died in Ikeda, near Osaka, at 96, the inventor of ramen, according to this appreciation in the NY Times. [Hat tip: Shrikant.] Mr Ando invented ramen noodles way back in 1958.
Lawrence Downes who penned that piece is an acute observer. I savored his description of ramen noodles which brought back memories–mostly happy–of many a meal I had while studying in Berkeley. Here, have a taste:
Ramen noodles . . . are a dish of effortless purity. Like the egg, or tea, they attain a state of grace through a marriage with nothing but hot water. After three minutes in a yellow bath, the noodles soften. The pebbly peas and carrot chips turn practically lifelike. A near-weightless assemblage of plastic and foam is transformed into something any college student will recognize as food, for as little as 20 cents a serving.
There are some imperfections. The fragile cellophane around the ramen brick tends to open in a rush, spilling broken noodle bits around. The silver seasoning packet does not always tear open evenly, and bits of sodium essence can be trapped in the foil hollows, leaving you always to wonder whether the broth, rich and salty as it is, is as rich and salty as it could have been. The aggressively kinked noodles form an aesthetically pleasing nest in cup or bowl, but when slurped, their sharp bends spray droplets of broth that settle uncomfortably about the lips and leave dots on your computer screen.
Goodbye, Mr Ando, and thanks for all the noodles.