Everybody Loves Ramen
Sushi may be the food most associated with Japan, but the “food of the people” is definitely ramen.
Now, when someone says “ramen” in America, it conjures up images of an MSG enhanced brick of noodles used by frat boys to stave of starvation.
Boiling water, noodles and a flavor packet... that’s it? Wrong.
Ever think about adding some veggies? Of course not.
Eating ramen that way is like giving a Japanese person a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, a knife and fork and telling them to dig in.
Yes, that’s ramen soup-base you’ve been eating all these years; light years away from the rich, pork laden, hand-made noodles of the Ramen shops of Japan.
So, let’s eat! But how? You ask rhetorically.
We’ve all heard that you must slurp your noodles in Asia as a sign of respect and it is the usual way to eat noodles. But think about it! You’re eating boiling hot noodles with chopsticks!
A fan of hot noodles... pre-slurp.
So, unless you plan to dangle dripping noodles over your mouth and drop them in, gravity says you gotta slurp!
After noodles comes the soup (broth). This is the most important part of ramen.
Ramen Chefs, badasses of both in manga and real life. Slurp carefully.
Each ramen chef has his own particular recipe that has taken him years to develop. It’s almost sacred and has top-secret ingredients.
Secret Ingredient? Ice Cream. Shh. (*Yes, it’s real)
If you finish your noodles, but have broth left over, do not leave the bowl unfinished for the chef to see. Ramen is a macho food. You finish that broth! If you want some rice, or more noodles to help top you off, just yell it out at the top of your lungs and you’ll get it. But you finish it!
If you can’t finish an adult-sized bowl, perhaps this ramen is more your size?
As I said, Ramen is a macho food. The staff will greet you by yelling in Japanese, “WELCOME!” and see you out by yelling “THANK YOU VERY MUCH!”
The towels are for sweat. And sometimes… your blood.
Fear not! They aren’t angry with you….yet.
As long as you order quickly, eat until you’re sweating like a marathon runner, and finish up so the next customer can sit down, you may just make it out alive. Of course, you’ll die soon after from cholesterol-clogged arteries, but at least you’ll die happy.
Above: Tokyo resident and daily ramen-eater, Mr. Tanaka, moments before being rushed to the hospital with heart complications.