Saturday, May 9, 2009

Andy Raskin's "The Ramen King and I"

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 applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life, and reported the following:
The Ramen King and I is a memoir about romantic infidelity. Specifically, it's the story of how I adopted Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen, as a spiritual guide, and how he helped me understand my behavior and change it.

Page 99 turns out to be a shortie, the first of 12 brief biographical sketches of Ando. Yet it really does convey the book's primary theme—that by coming to play a godlike role in my life, Ando would help me change. The journey I wrote about is one of finding faith, if in a non-traditional way, so I'd say the p. 99 test holds up nicely.




To understand how the inventor of instant ramen helped me change, it would be useful to know something about his life. No better place to start than Halley’s Comet.

You see, the baby who would grow up to invent instant ramen was born on March 5, 1910. That year, Halley’s Comet made one of its near-Earth flybys. To most people, this was nothing more than a coincidence.

Nissin Food Products, however, has always made a big deal about the connection. For example, on the page devoted to Ando’s birth in the catalog to the Instant Ramen Invention Museum, an illustration shows an icy white ball zooming past Earth. The entire planet is covered in clouds except for a small clearing, through which sparkling dust from the comet’s tail gently settles over Japan. There’s no doubt about it. Nissin means to suggest that Ando—and maybe instant ramen itself—was sent from above.
Read more about the book and author at Andy Raskin's website and the Ramen Advice blog.

--Marshal Zeringue