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The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life

by Andy Raskin

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17015158,022 (3.49)2
"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.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I came into this book with high expectations. Let's face it - it has probably the best title of any memoir in approximately the history of the universe.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book does not live up, particularly. Raskin's epistolary memoir mostly focuses on his scummy, womanizing ways and his desire to make up for them. Somehow, he finds the motivation to make reparations for past misdeeds by writing a series of monologues addressed to Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen. Why Ando is a question frequently asked but never answered. Similarly, the "fixed my love life" subtitle may be a little oversold: the book seems to be more "How My Imagined Version of the Inventor of Instant Noodles Set Me on the Path to Fixing My Love Life, But I'm Certainly Nowhere Close to Fixed Yet, Because as an Adult Closer to a Midlife Crisis than a Quarterlife One, I'm Counting a Six Month Relationship as a Success." I mean, I'm just saying...

Interspersed with that is a series of anecdotes about Momofuku Ando's life, which are fascinating, but conveyed in a rather dry tone.

The best part of the book are Raskin's frequent trips to Japan and his perception and description of the Japanese culture. But honestly, Japan as a comedy of manners has been done before in both fiction and nonfiction before. (e.g. [b:If You Follow Me|6391014|If You Follow Me|Malena Watrous|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1278442263s/6391014.jpg|6579433]) ( )
  settingshadow | Aug 19, 2023 |
interesting read about japan and addiction.
  kevix | Dec 28, 2020 |
Not what i thought it was about. the parts about the ramen stuff were fun, worthy of an article in a magazine, the rest was about of selfish guy with low self esteem who decides he is a sex addict. The connection is barely tenuous. ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
I'm not sure I'll keep this book. Raskin is an amusing writer, and I picked up a bunch of details about eating etiquette in a Japanese restaurant. The philosophy spouted by Ando is interesting, Raskins obsession with Ando is weirdly interesting and I kind of like reading a book which seems to be autobiographical but maybe isn't. However, I didn't really like him in the first part of the book when he was sleeping around, lying and cheating. Sure, he says he's changed, but I know a sexaholic and I find it hard to believe someone will really change their behavior.
BTW, the unnamed group meeting Raskin attends is likely Sexaholics Anonymous. ( )
  juniperSun | Dec 15, 2015 |
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. ( )
  RandyStafford | Feb 9, 2012 |
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Epigraph
"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 of Chikin [sic] Ramen at the time."

-- Momofuku Ando, "Magic Noodles: The Story of the Invention of Instant Ramen"
Dedication
For my family, with thanks to Carol Wasserman
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There used to be a Japanese TV show in which two young hosts -- a male and a female -- would scream, "I wanna ____!"
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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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