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

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

ISBN13: 9781592404445
ISBN10: 1592404448
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

For three days in January 2007, the most-emailed article in The New York Times was “Appreciations: Mr. Noodle,” an editorial noting the passing, at age 96, of billionaire Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen. The very existence of the noodle inventor came as a shock to many, but not to Andy Raskin, who had spent nearly three years trying to meet Ando. Why?

To fix the problems that plagued his love life.

The Ramen King and I is Raskin’s memoir about how despair—and a series of bizarre adventures at Japanese restaurants—led him to confront the truth of his romantic past, and how Ando became his unlikely spiritual guide. Through letters ostensibly penned to the culinary sage, Raskin reveals a relationship history plagued by infidelity, jealousy, and betrayal. After devouring Ando’s essays (with titles such as “Peace Follows from a Full Stomach” and “Mankind is Noodlekind”), he sets out to meet the food pioneer—and to discover the secret to a committed relationship.

Confronting his romantic past, Andy Raskin uncovers a pattern of infidelity and betrayal. Despair—and a bizarre series of adventures involving Japanese food—lead him to adopt Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant noodles, as an unlikely spiritual guide. Spurred on by a stubborn sushi chef, a TV game show, and a sculpture in the Kmart headquarters parking lot, Raskin sets out to meet Ando—and to find the key to a successful committed relationship. A funny, emotionally charged memoir of hunger in its many forms, The Ramen King and I is about how we become slaves to our desires, and how to break free.

Review:

"This funny and idiosyncratic Japanese-fast-food memoir and quasi-spiritual autobiography from NPR commentator Raskin contains at its core, despite its oddball title, a deeply human story. The author grew up on Long Island and attended Wharton business school after college, which led to an internship in Japan and a life-long connection with the country. Over the years, Raskin also got involved with a number of women, without maintaining fidelity or forming a permanent attachment. Relocation to the West Coast and numerous Internet hookups eventually led to therapy and a fellowship, where he began to accept his sexual compulsivity and met the mentor who recommended finding some form of Higher Power. Raskin's unorthodox choice of Momofuku Ando, the nonagenarian inventor of instant ramen and Nissin Food Products chairman, led to several futile attempts to contact and meet him. The result is a painfully humane and hilariously candid journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. At first, the book's intentions aren't explicit, the structure is near confusing, and the narrator's crisis feels shallow. But the various strands eventually weave together into a satisfying whole that becomes a quirky, unique memoir. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

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... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

Struggling to overcome chronic relationship problems, an American journeys to Japan seeking guidance from Momofuku Ando—the father of instant ramen noodles—in this unique memoir about breaking free from slavish desire.

Synopsis:

"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.

Synopsis:

For three days in January 2007, the most-emailed article in The New York Times was Appreciations: Mr. Noodle, an editorial noting the passing, at age 96, of billionaire Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen. The very existence of the noodle inventor came as a shock to many, but not to Andy Raskin, who had spent nearly three years trying to meet Ando. Why?

To fix the problems that plagued his love life.

The Ramen King and I is Raskin's memoir about how despair-and a series of bizarre adventures at Japanese restaurants-led him to confront the truth of his romantic past, and how Ando became his unlikely spiritual guide. Through letters ostensibly penned to the culinary sage, Raskin reveals a relationship history plagued by infidelity, jealousy, and betrayal. After devouring Ando's essays (with titles such as Peace Follows from a Full Stomach and Mankind is Noodlekind), he sets out to meet the food pioneer-and to discover the secret to a committed relationship.

About the Author

"To say The Ramen King and I is a wonderful, beautifully crafted memoir about sex and fidelity and instant noodles only hints at the humor and humanity of this book. I couldn't stop laughing, even though it was also sad, in that being-human-is-sometimes-a-sad-proposition kind of way. Andy Raskin has an insider's perspective on male desire and Japanese culture, and a keen eye for the delicate, heartbreaking absurdities of both."

-Ruth Ozeki, author of My Year of Meats

"I ate this book in one sitting. Okay, three sittings. What I mean is I loved it. It won me over from the start, and when it wasn't making me hungry it made me think. Apparently I, too, battle against the Fundamental Misunderstanding of Humanity."

-Po Bronson

"More raw than sushi... Raskin's journey is bizarre, enlightening, and delicious." -Pamela Drucker, author of Lust In Translation

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Holly Jones, May 1, 2010 (view all comments by Holly Jones)
When you put the book down, it makes you want to grab a pencil and paper and start scribbling down...
"Dear Momofuku,"
Many strange events happen when Andy Raskin surrenders himself to the inventor of ramen as his God stand-in. As a person who, before, had close to nothing to do with ramen, he suddenly finds himself constantly stumbling into ramen-related adventures and realizes that these aren't coincidences, this is His will, the God of Ramen's will.
Andy's love life is in shambles and he is in a state of fear where his inner voice constantly scolds him. "What's wrong with you?" it asks. "You will never be in in a healthy relationship," it goes.
But with the noodle-man in mind, he conquers himself while trying to understand his heart's true desires.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
lesismore9o9, May 31, 2009 (view all comments by lesismore9o9)
The odds are better than average that if you have ever been in college, unemployed, lived in a bad apartment or been in any other circumstance that limited your funds, you have eaten at least one bowl of instant ramen in your lifetime. One of the cheapest meals available – costing less than a dollar per serving – instant ramen has inspired hundreds of variant recipes, spread to almost every single country in the world and even inspired its originating country of Japan to rate it as the most important invention of the last century.

For all the billions of instant ramen servings that have been consumed, it’s a safe bet that few people have ever considered where it came from, or even realized that one man created it: Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Food Products. Andy Raskin was curious about this fact, and in the process of learning about Ando realized the creation of ramen may hold the secret to putting his life back together. “The Ramen King and I” is his memoir of that journey – a stunningly personal, occasionally funny and regularly appetizing story proving the adage that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

At the time he began learning about Ando, Raskin was in a state of emotional collapse. Unable to maintain a long-term romantic relationship, he had been consistently unfaithful to his girlfriends and suffering in his professional life, compulsively running through Craigslist and AOL personal ads to fill the gaps. After getting into a recovery program, a series of Japanese food-related coincidences led him to use Ando as a sort of guiding figure, eventually taking him all the way to Nissin to attempt to meet the man in person. The journey proves to be not at all what he expected, finding Ando’s life and writings may in fact hold the answer to how he can free himself from a vicious cycle.

The thought of picking a 94-year-old food tycoon as your spiritual guide certainly seems like a strange one, but Raskin – a regular contributor to NPR – cooks the disparate ingredients together well. Rather than explaining the results of his journey immediately and recounting the experience, “Ramen King” goes into the story with much the same spirit he did, a feeling that there was something connected he needed to track down. Readers come to the truth at the same pace he does, presented with all the same cues and ideas he was, and the presented results are as satisfying and stunning as they must have been to Raskin at the time of discovery.

This vagueness makes the book feel somewhat random or rough at the start, but Raskin quickly counters this by letting readers very deeply into his life. The main story is interspersed with his “letters” to Ando (not sent but written as part of his recovery program) along with journal entries during a abstinence “detox” period. The entries are very emotional, showing his flaws with no attempt to hide or justify – a stunning honesty that makes one much more inclined to see if he’s capable of finding redemption.

If his entries on his personal life add feeling to the book, then his discussion of Japanese food and culture adds the flavor. Raskin has lived in Japan several times (a decision almost always based on the women he was seeing), can speak the language and has a keen appreciation for the culture. He discusses the interaction between customer and chef at a sushi restaurant – a relationship as important as the one between the fish and the rice – and locates a legendary ramen restaurant with portions so rich they burst his gallbladder. There is even a bit of literary discussion worked in as he critiques various food-related manga comic books, mixing their storylines with quotes from Ando’s biographies.

And it is all these elements that push Raskin to his final discovery, answering the question that plagues him from San Francisco to Osaka: why did Ando suddenly devote his life to making instant ramen, and why does that matter so much to him? He refuses to answer it until the very last sentence of the book, when he and the reader are ready, and its revelation is as satisfying as slurping the last noodle from the bowl. “The Ramen King and I” is a memoir of rare depth and honesty, a journey embarked on with some misgivings but which makes perfect sense in the end.
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(3 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
Jane Churchon, May 21, 2009 (view all comments by Jane Churchon)
The Ramen King and I made me want to whistle a happy tune. Andy Raskin searches for the meaning of his life while pursuing the inventor of instant ramen noodles--and without resorting to cliches, he wrote about that search with both humor and insight.

Raskin has a dry humor that is well served by his understated voice; he doesn't hit the reader over the head with the absurdity of the situation, but it's not lost. There aren't too many young Jewish men who use an elderly Japanese businessman that they've never met as a metaphor for God; there are fewer who manage to take that humorous situation and find a deeper, lasting lesson in commitment and self knowledge.

I'm buying a copy for several friends, not just because they need a laugh, but because they need some noodle wisdom too. As Raskin (translating Ando Momofuku) says, Noodlekind is Mankind.
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(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781592404445
Subtitle:
How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life
Author:
Raskin, Andy
Publisher:
Gotham
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
Journalists
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Journalists -- United States.
Subject:
Editors -- United States.
Copyright:
Edition Description:
B-Hardcover
Publication Date:
20100706
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 in 1.09 lb
Age Level:
14-13

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Cooking and Food » Food Writing » General

The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life Used Hardcover
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Product details 304 pages Gotham Books - English 9781592404445 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This funny and idiosyncratic Japanese-fast-food memoir and quasi-spiritual autobiography from NPR commentator Raskin contains at its core, despite its oddball title, a deeply human story. The author grew up on Long Island and attended Wharton business school after college, which led to an internship in Japan and a life-long connection with the country. Over the years, Raskin also got involved with a number of women, without maintaining fidelity or forming a permanent attachment. Relocation to the West Coast and numerous Internet hookups eventually led to therapy and a fellowship, where he began to accept his sexual compulsivity and met the mentor who recommended finding some form of Higher Power. Raskin's unorthodox choice of Momofuku Ando, the nonagenarian inventor of instant ramen and Nissin Food Products chairman, led to several futile attempts to contact and meet him. The result is a painfully humane and hilariously candid journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. At first, the book's intentions aren't explicit, the structure is near confusing, and the narrator's crisis feels shallow. But the various strands eventually weave together into a satisfying whole that becomes a quirky, unique memoir. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Struggling to overcome chronic relationship problems, an American journeys to Japan seeking guidance from Momofuku Ando—the father of instant ramen noodles—in this unique memoir about breaking free from slavish desire.
"Synopsis" by ,
"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.

"Synopsis" by , For three days in January 2007, the most-emailed article in The New York Times was Appreciations: Mr. Noodle, an editorial noting the passing, at age 96, of billionaire Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen. The very existence of the noodle inventor came as a shock to many, but not to Andy Raskin, who had spent nearly three years trying to meet Ando. Why?

To fix the problems that plagued his love life.

The Ramen King and I is Raskin's memoir about how despair-and a series of bizarre adventures at Japanese restaurants-led him to confront the truth of his romantic past, and how Ando became his unlikely spiritual guide. Through letters ostensibly penned to the culinary sage, Raskin reveals a relationship history plagued by infidelity, jealousy, and betrayal. After devouring Ando's essays (with titles such as Peace Follows from a Full Stomach and Mankind is Noodlekind), he sets out to meet the food pioneer-and to discover the secret to a committed relationship.

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