Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Boxing Day!

May you pass boxes of goodies to those that can use them, whether you're servant or master.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ramen Girl: noodle movie and request for growing up films

Ramen Girl is a mostly unremarkable movie. It was essential watching for me in my noodle year, and it certainly isn't outright bad, but for all of the things the film is trying to do, I can name other films I think do it better.
Tampopo delves deeper into the craziness that is proper ramen preparation. Ramen Girl includes a few elements of food magic, (just the right spirit in the ramen can make people giggle or cry) but not enough to make magical food an essential, if absurd, part of the plot the way it is in Like Water for Chocolate or Simply Irresistible. US-Japanese cultural differences arise, but Lost in Translation handles them much more adeptly. The romance is largely a side note, and there are plenty of better romantic comedies. And if one wants a silly coming of age movie, where a lost young person learns to work hard from a seemingly harsh elder, there are surely many better examples. But I can't think of them at the moment-- please comment with your favorite coming of age (in a profession, through hard work) films.

I should add that despite not being great in any aspect, Ramen Girl did make me want to eat ramen. Amateur Reader has promised earlier that he could advise on Tokyo-style ramen and I am seeing him next week, so I'm hoping for good noodles and perhaps a new pre-Christmas tradition.

Anyone have winter holiday traditions that involve noodles?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pearl Harbor- 9/11- Kennedy Shot of the 50s?

On Pearl Harbor day Tuesday, the Mister and I started talking about defining moments of a generation and news that makes everyone stop. Like most other Americans my age, I know where I was when I learned that the Challenger exploded (at school in 8th grade) and when I found out about the world trade center collapsing (listening to NPR, wondering why the news was different then it had been an hour earlier as I prepared to go to biometry class and fly to Washington D.C. that day). Perhaps a bit more personal and local, I returned home from a high school graduation ceremony to learn of the tanks entering Tianamen Square (I studied Chinese and was on my way to China in the summer of 1989) and I learned of the Columbine shootings while at work in Denver. I was at a Model UN competition when Nelson Mandela was released (most of us thought it was a ploy to change the nature of the debate on South Africa) and, along with the rest of my German class, was absolutely shocked at the speed with which the Berlin wall came down once it started to crumble. Perhaps foolishly, I know exactly where I was when I learned of Princes Diana's death (at a cabin, from my brother on the phone, thinking he was telling a joke when he started "have you heard about Princess Diana").
I know where my parents were when Kennedy was shot and think they watched the moon landing. My grandfather spoke to me about Pearl Harbor and the end of the war.
I'm curious, in general, what specific historical events you remember as being a big deal when you learned of them. For those of you older than I am, I'm also wanting to know about specific events in the 1950s. The 60s are full of them (although I'm unsure how much press things like the Cuban Missile Crisis received, nor do I know if any one protest/riot/march felt momentous to a big audience). How about the 50s? Sputnik? Particular space events? MacArthur's dismissal?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tampopo: The first noodle movie

After a long week (of mostly good busyness*, but much busyness none the less), the Mister and I relaxed by watching Tampopo last night. I'm sentimentally attached to Tampopo, as the Mister and I watched it together early in our courtship (so early that his loft apartment was clean when we viewed Tampopo together there), but I think that I can safely say that it's well worth watching for noodle lovers and those willing to laugh at a few of the absurdities of Japanese obsessions**. The movie is a string of food-related vignettes interspersed with a mock Western about the revitalization of a ramen shop. At times it is as silly as that sounds, but it doesn't take itself too seriously, even though the characters clearly take noodles very seriously.
Experience viewing Tampopo prepared me for reading Momofuku, David Chan and Peter Meehan's cookbook-memoir about noodle obsessions and starting the Momofuku empire in NYC, last January. The book was a present given to my parents, and I didn't try to cook anything from it, but both the Mister and I were mesmerized by the accounts of soba training and ramen training and flaunting convention as an up and coming chef.

Out of curiosity, has anyone seen Ramen Girl?

*Including being called on Thursday to find out if I wanted my institution included on an NSF grant somebody else is writing. If funded, we would receive money to hire students to do cool research that we would like to do anyway. While participating did require me to run around and acquire signatures and apologize for getting signatures without ample notice, that's all it required of me, and the guy writing the grant was genuinely surprised that I wanted to participate.

**Warning, the subtitles do make it a less good choice for a tired Friday night as one cannot knit to it or fall briefly asleep and catch back up.