Today’s selection: “Magic Ramen” by Andrea Wang – JUV 641.82 Wang
At the end of World War II, Japan was severely damaged and had a food shortage that continued on for years. Poor people were eating grass and bark and orphans were digging through garbage for scraps. It was during this time that Momofuku Ando found himself walking home from work and encountering a long line of people shivering in the cold waiting for food. These people were lucky to have money to pay for food and were waiting to buy a hot bowl of ramen noodle soup. Ando decided on that day that he would help feed people somehow.
He started food-based businesses. Some were making salt and catching and drying fish. Eventually he started trying to make a cheaper and faster ramen that families could have at home whenever they wanted. First, he had to make noodles. We get to see all the ways that Ando experimented with making those. Most importantly, we get to see that he perseveres until he finds the right mixture that works. His next step was to make the soup to accompany the noodles. His ramen needed to be both tasty and easy to cook. How could he get flavor into the noodles so that it would be released with just hot water? We get to see how Ando tried and tried again after he failed. Ando finally figures out the right approach with a little inspiration from his wife.
Ando went on to found Nissin foods, create the Cup of Noodle that doesn’t require a separate bowl, and just a few years before his death created a vacuum sealed instant noodle meal for astronauts to take on the shuttle. The book includes an author’s note, pronunciation guide and an afterword with more details about Ando.