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Noodle mania

(article, Liz Crain)

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In the U.S. alone, more than 3.9 billion packages of instant ramen were sold in 2005. There are several ramen blogs floating around the Web, but we decided to highlight The Official Ramen Homepage, both for its staying power (it dates back to 1995) and for its wide and welcoming representation of the much-loved fried noodle. 

p(blue). Blog: The Official Ramen Homepage
Average posts per month: 10
Blogger: Matt Fischer
Age: 29
Blog place of origin: Fort Collins, Colorado


h1. Liz's faves


1. Cheapest Dress Ever
2. Pregnancy Ramen
3. Mr. Momofuku Ando Has Died


Although the traditional Japanese way of making ramen is steeped in history as well as broth and seasonings, the ramen that Matt Fischer writes about on The Official Ramen Homepage is the instant kind invented half a century ago by the late Momofuku Ando. 

At its core, The Official Ramen Homepage is a diverse collection of ramen recipes and innovations from around the globe, including Egyptian and Hawaiian ramen. Fischer also collects such oddities as ramen timers and a dress made from ramen wrappers. 

[%image dress float=right caption="The ramen dress." credit="Photo courtesy Matt Fischer"]

Recently Fischer found out that his blog is banned in China. He’s looking into the matter, but for now, he’s uncertain as to why. 

You claim to be the longest-running ramen blog. How many other ramen bloggers are out there, and do you communicate with them?
I started the site on my personal Web space when I was in college in 1995, before the word "blog" was coined, so I think my claim is fairly accurate. 

Everyone on my dorm floor ate ramen, usually as an evening snack. After seeing some creative ramen concoctions, I decided to make a site. 

It was a great way to teach myself how to make webpages; we didn't have any editing tools back then, really. I used to spend 30 minutes each day after lunch updating the page; it was a real pain back then, all hand-edits. 

After that first year, my site had grown enough in popularity and design that it helped me land my first job as a Web designer for a hospital. 

[%image soup float=left size=small caption="The classic dish." credit="Photo courtesy Matt Fischer"]

As for other blogs, I have communicated with some of the authors, but ramen is a fairly limited topic, so ramen blogs are fairly rare. I do try to link back to any ramen blogger who contacts me.

You just had a poll on your blog inquiring as to when readers first tried ramen. What about you?
As a young kid. I was a pretty picky eater, but I loved soup and I probably convinced my mom to buy it for me at the store. I used to make it frequently as an after-school snack when I was old enough to cook it by myself. 

I always cooked it as soup and added the seasoning when it was wet. Then sometimes I would drain it and sometimes not. You never add the seasoning after draining; it's too salty, for me anyway.

[%image fischer float=right caption="Fischer with friends." credit="Photo courtesy Matt Fischer"]

How did the recent death of Momofuku Ando — the inventor of instant ramen — affect your blog?
It was pretty shocking news! One of my readers alerted me to it almost immediately and I blogged some about my thoughts, but in some ways, I don't quite feel worthy to be viewed as an authority on Momofuku Ando.

What was your first post for the blog?
Oh, it's probably lost to time, but I suspect it was a recipe that the guys in my dorm came up with: "Cook ramen as usual, except substitute Sam Adams Lager for the water."

What have you learned as a long-term blogger?
Change with the times. My blog started as a static HTML page that I would hand-edit and add recipes to manually. I've gone through several other platforms and layouts since then. I also like to keep the site as fresh as possible. 

Do you ever find yourself at a loss for postings?
Of course! I am not an author or a journalist, and it’s not like there is breaking ramen news all that often. I keep some pre-submitted recipes on hand for the lean times.

[%image burgers float=left caption="Ramen burgers." credit="Photo courtesy Matt Fischer"]

I have about 50 backed up right now, and I only post about 50 percent of the recipes that are submitted to me. Many are repeats, or are either too gross or too similar to be posted.

How do you feel about ramen's reputation as college-student food?
There are three types of people who eat ramen: college students/starving artists, hurried moms, and prison inmates. 

The recipes I get from the moms are the best, but require the most ingredients. The college-student recipes can usually be cooked in a microwave, and the ones from jail always seem to involve Cheetos or Doritos.

I eat ramen about once every week or so. Since I am married to someone who won't eat ramen (a minor oversight on my part), I only eat it when I'm eating alone, usually Saturday lunches. 

p(bio). Liz Crain is a writer in Portland, Oregon.

dress, l

soup, l

burgers, l

fischer, l

promo-image, l

reference-image, l