Back when I was younger, Naruto used to play on Cartoon Network. Every Monday and Tuesday night, I’d watch the show, obsessed with the ninjas’ many powers. I think Naruto started my ninja phase — the show made being a ninja look so fun! I think I hit my ninja peak in second or third grade, with my Halloween costume being a ninja for two years in a row.
Naruto, a twelve-year-old ninja and star of the show, had one recurring obsession: ramen. Especially in the earlier episodes, Naruto would be taken to a ramen-ya very frequently by one of his ninja instructors. I’d watch them sit in the ramen shop, slurping down their ramen as Naruto would keep going on about how good it tasted.
Whenever I saw them do that on TV, I’d suddenly want to have ramen too. I had no idea what ramen tasted like — was it salty? Sweet? Did it taste like udon noodles, or was it closer to a chicken noodle soup? By seventh grade, I was buying instant ramen from a Japanese specialty store. The ramen helped my reputation as the kid who brings foreign (i.e. non-American) lunches all the time. Even though I was eating “ramen,” it didn’t feel the same. Continue reading