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"Mankind is Noodlekind"
For three days in January 2007,the most e-mailed article in The New York Times was "appreciations: Mr. noodle," an editorial noting the passing, at age ninety-six, of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen. Ando's existence came as a shock to many, but not to Andy Raskin, who had spent three years trying to meet the noodle pioneer.
The Ramen King and I is Raskin's funny and, at times, painfully honest memoir about confronting the truth of his dating life-with Ando as his spiritual guide. Can instant ramen lead one to a committed relationship? And is sushi the secret to self-acceptance?
A true tale of hunger in its many forms, The Ramen King and I is about becoming slaves to our desires and learning to break free.
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A long-time NPR commentator whose essays have been heard on All Things Considered and This American Life, Andy Raskin has written for The New York Times, Gourmet, Playboy (Japanese edition), and other publications. He lives in San Francisco.From The Washington Post:
From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Carolyn See Musing on this book -- over a bowl of ramen -- it occurs to me that many men prefer to have more than one wife per life. The question -- after "Should I add bok choy or fried garlic as garnish?" -- is, "How should societies accommodate that preference?" In parts of India and Mexico and the Middle East, in wild and woolly parts of Utah and New Mexico, polygamy is smiled upon. Even in parts of Western Europe, a man's juggling of multiple partners is not held against him. Maybe, when you think about it, America is the only place where strict monogamy is taken seriously, but the divorce rate here is pretty awe-inspiring. What is it with us? Our Puritan heritage? Another way of placing ourselves on the moral high ground? (We know how well that turns out . . .) Many men -- not all! -- take a wife, then split, feel just terrible about it, take another wife, split, feel bad about it, and so on. But a sizable number prefer not to settle down at all. They work at being frivolous; they're locked into the glamour of the hunt. Mention commitment, and their flesh begins to crawl. So it is with Andy Raskin in this wacky, oddly endearing memoir. Until his late 30s, he obsessed over beautiful girls, but he can't have one without having another one to play off the first. He's not happy unless he's cheating. (But he's not happy when he is cheating, either.) He puts personal ads on Craigslist. He has so many women, he can't remember their names. Theoretically, he wants to be a grown-up; in real life, he can't stand the idea. He wants to get as far away from his life as a nice Jewish boy raised on Long Island can. Besides his fixation on women, he falls in love with Japanese culture, which happens to be on the other side of the world. He loves samurai movies, Japanese comics, the Japanese language (which he learns), Japanese girls and Japanese cuisine (particularly fermented squid). He jumps from job to job, girl to girl, sushi bar to noodle joint. Many guys might think of this as an ideal life, but Raskin feels bad about it. Indeed, he feels so desperate about cheating on his girlfriends that he ends up in something like a 12-step program to modify his dating habits. And in a move that parallels what happens in the movie "You Kill Me," in which Ben Kingsley chooses the Golden Gate Bridge as his Higher Power, Raskin chooses Momofuku Ando, the Japanese magnate who invented instant ramen. No matter that he and Raskin have never met or that Ando was in his 90s living in Osaka. Raskin's sponsor suggests that he write a series of journal entries to the old gentleman, recording each and every time the specter of sexual misbehavior comes upon him. In addition, the sponsor extracts a promise from the author that he will remain chaste for 60 days. Ando is already something of a self-defined sage, having written such books as "Conception of a Fantastic Idea," "How to Escape From Difficulty" and "How to Live Happily to One Hundred" -- a goal he missed by just four years. Raskin, a freelance journalist who happily -- except for sex -- gives way to his obsessions, sets out to discover all he can about Ando, as well as himself. He travels to Osaka more than once, trying to meet Ando. He visits the Instant Ramen Invention Museum, which is just about what it sounds like. He reads two versions of Ando's autobiography. He takes note when Ando writes that he himself has done his share of "shameful" things. It turns out that Momofuku Ando, far from being a model of adulthood and fidelity, has failed repeatedly in business, been jailed twice, had three wives with a child from each marriage. Not only that, he was stingy with his child support and disowned his elder son. But nobody's perfect, as Raskin realizes even before he attends Ando's funeral in an Osaka baseball stadium. Meanwhile, through his journal entries to Ando, Raskin comes to recognize his own relentlessly scolding inner voice: "YOU SHOULD JUST CUT PROCESSED SUGARS FROM YOUR DIET THE WAY YOUR MOTHER HAS. IT'S THAT SIMPLE." Or, "YOU SHOULD JUST HUNKER DOWN AND WRITE SOME STORIES ABOUT BIG COMPANIES. YOU SHOULD NEVER QUIT A JOB BEFORE YOU HAVE A NEW JOB." Gradually, he realizes that this pitiless voice has kept him from committing to a relationship. He also recognizes the voice as having come from the mouths of his parents, but really it has descended through generations. The author eventually gets eighty-sixed from his favorite sushi bar and tells us a lot about noodles (although I would have liked to know, once and for all, the philosophical differences among soba, udon, ramen and instant ramen). He revels in all things Japanese and gets his dating life in some kind of order. But if he'd grown up in pre-revolutionary China, parts of Mexico, India, etc., he might have saved himself all kinds of grief.
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.
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Book Description Avery, 2010. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1592405541
Book Description Gotham, 2010. Paperback. Condition: Brand New. reprint edition. 304 pages. 8.25x5.50x1.00 inches. In Stock. Seller Inventory # zk1592405541
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Book Description Paperback. Condition: New. Paperback. "Mankind is Noodlekind"For three days in January 2007, the most e-mailed article in "The New York Times" was "appreciations: Mr. noodle," an edit.Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 290 pages. 0.245. Seller Inventory # 9781592405541