My daughter and my love bond over a shared love of ramen. Here are two books to celebrate it!
Magic Ramen: the Story of Momofuku Ando by Andrea Wang and Kana Urbanowica. Little Bee Books, 2019. 9781499807035
This picture book biography tells the story of Momofuku Ando, who invented instant ramen as a way to feed hungry impoverished people during the devastation in Japan after World War II. It took lots of experimentation to make something that would be both tasty and nutritious (that was the goal, anyway!) but could be prepared quickly and easily at home by people with nothing more than hot water. The expressive, cartoony art varies between outside scenes with detailed, full-color backgrounds, and the scenes of experimentation, shown with all-white backgrounds. This is at once a reminder of an important period in history and an ode to persistence and of course, delicious ramen.
Let’s Make Ramen: A Comic Book Cookbook by Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan. Ten Speed Press, 2019. 9780399581991
This beautiful graphic cookbook takes a much more gourmet spin on the instant ramen from the previous book, this time trying to replicate the ramen of the ramen shop at home. (There’s also a brief discussion of ramen-ya etiquette.) It begins by explaining the different elements that belong in a good bowl of ramen and some basic styles of bowls before giving details and techniques on different kinds of broth, topping, and noodles. Start small, they suggest, maybe with homemade broth and store bought noodles (this would be my best option, as they only give instructions for wheat-based noodles.) They suggest that one make a variety ahead and freeze them, then thaw and recombine, though it sounded like this would work better for singles or couples than for families. The ink and watercolor art gives mouth-watering close-ups on both food and techniques, but also some creative scenes, like an underwater world with fish explaining about gyokai broth. I enjoyed looking at the beautiful art and was impressed by the range of possibilities with ramen. The recipes themselves feel solid, if not quite a fit for me right now. I could see this being truly inspiring for the right person.
Pair these with the movie Ramen Shop or another popular graphic cookbook, Cook Korean by Robin Ha.