This all started when a friend came around and wanted to take a look inside my fridge. He wasn’t being nosy or anything, more like friendly curiosity. He believed you can tell a lot about someone by the contents of their fridge.
He opened the fridge door to a sad, empty, dimly-lit state of affairs. Some old condiments in the door and a take-out on one shelf.
I was embarrassed.
Going from this sorry excuse of a fridge to something I could be proud of was too much to think about. I was busy, and exhausted, as always. Eating healthy would change things, I know, but the overwhelming reality of making a meal plan, shopping, and cooking every night was crippling. Let’s just order some food for tonight, watch a bit more Netflix, and deal with everything else tomorrow. Again.
The worst part of all this was the social aspect. Eating is as much a social activity as it is a nutritional one. There are only so many times you can have friends around and order pizza for everyone. Then I would go to friends’ dinners, who were just as busy and exhausted as I was, and they would cook delicious, wholesome food. Each time this happened, my shame surrounding all of this would rear its ugly head. As I dug myself into a funk, my solution was to withdraw. I gradually stopped inviting people around as much. Then I started making silly excuses not to go to dinner with people. Eventually, people just stopped inviting me. I don’t blame them.
Learning how to make ramen was a single, focused challenge. It involves making one dish. It wasn’t as overwhelming as ‘eating healthy consistently’. There isn’t that much shopping, the shopping lists rarely change, there’s no meal planning, and the fact that I utterly love ramen helps.
Once things began to move, my fridge began to transform. Cooking one thing well meant a bunch of byproducts that become starting points for other things. For example, when I made my first bone broth, I let it cool down and then skimmed the fat off to use as a base for an aromatic oil. Leftover garlic and scallions from sautéing vegetables would get blended into a marinade for something else. Braising sauces reused. Every leftover is bottled, as they slowly mature into other things. My fridge is now a vibrant ecosystem of happy little jars and boxes of ingredients.
The best part of all this is that now I am genuinely proud and excited to invite people around for ramen. I have a reason to reach out to people and invite them round. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve started having little ramen play dates. I’ll go over to a friend’s, we’ll make ramen together, they’ll teach me their way of making noodles, and I share my recipe for a new tarè I’m working on. Maybe we swap where we’re getting our best ingredients from.
If you find yourself on the edge of a funk, maybe make some ramen.