The Ramen King and I

Yes, I know, it’s not one of my usual sorts of books.

This retro review was written in May 30, 2009.

Review: The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life, Andy Raskin, 2009.Ramen King and I

Raskin, for me, wasn’t a particularly likeable companion as he goes on a journey of self-discovery that weaves skillfully back and forth in time. What Raskin tries to discover is why he’s so habitually unfaithful to his many girlfriends. The sayings and life of Momofuku Ando, the world renowned (ok, Asian renowned) inventor of instant ramen, become Raskin’s higher power on his road to recovery.

But a funny thing happened in the final part of the book. Oh, I consistently enjoyed reading about Ando, and I found the asides on Japanese matters (business etiquette, food-themed manga, puns, sushi, museums devoted to ramen or gyoza, and samurai movies) fascinating and often funny. Surprisingly a revelation about Ando’s life proves relevant to Raskin’s plight. And Ando’s Zen like sayings go from seemingly silly business platitudes or personal eccentricities to something profound and useful. They become another example of the transforming wisdom sometimes found in the unlikely places of popular culture or the lives of the eccentric.

Raskin has started an advice column using the sayings and life of Ando. That may be worth a look, and I definitely would like to see him do more Japanese related material.

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