Guest Post: Bringing Friends Together with Ramen
By Jamie Li
November is National Happeaness Month (with that spelling too), and I’ve been carrying the question “What makes me happea?” in my back pocket. It’s been a good mental exercise thus far, acting almost like a lens through which I examine my life. I highly recommend it, even if just for a day. Too often in our lives we lose sight of the things that bring us joy so when given the chance to reflect, definitely take it.
Now, what are the things that make me happea? Well, lots of things! For example: digging into a good book, churros, learning Béyonce choreography, seeing friends, eating ramen, making my bed and so much more. Amongst this assortment of joy-inducing activities, one surpasses the rest. If you know me at all, you can surely guess which. But for the uninitiated, you will soon come to find that my favorite topic of conversation tends to be ramen! If we are hanging out, sooner or later you will be subjected to me discussing a new ramen restaurant, the outcome of a ramen recipe, or general musings on ramen and life. In fact, ramen was the inspiration behind a recent, very joyous occasion.
A good friend of mine named Kyle and I decided — given our unparalleled obsession with ramen — that we should throw a ramen dinner party for our friends! One in which everything from the playlist, guest list, invitation, recipes and more were devised from scratch. The whole operation was set in motion when I asked Kyle one day, “what are your thoughts on hosting a ramen pop-up?” In the month of planning that followed, it was a frenzy to nail down all the fine details. I still vividly remember the anxiety that would strike when thinking about whether or not there would be enough silverware and bowls to serve everyone. While the stress of planning and executing an event in which every detail was painstakingly considered was certainly exhausting, I truly wanted to be present for all of it — and that was a great joy.
Actually scratch that — there were a lot of joyous moments. Like the fact that what had begun as a seed of an idea grew into an actual event that brought friends together to consume the food produced from recipes we essentially invented was another great joy....
Seeing the expressions on our friends’ faces after they took their first bites was another one. Let’s not forget the long hours of recipe testing, recipe tasting, scouring San Francisco for obscure Japanese ingredients, and all the conference rooms booked at work for fake meetings where Kyle and I were actually discussing dinner party logistics. At no point along the way did I ever think “Ugh, this is such a drag!” In fact I was always thinking “Aw yeah this is so fun! What’s next?” No matter if it was driving to the dollar store to get cheap plastic tubs (could not find bowls) to replace the bowls we forgot to bring, nervously waiting for noodles to finish boiling so we could quickly get everything plated, or trying to decide how long to let guests mingle before ushering them into their seats to begin service. So many decisions were made on the fly and were the result of just not knowing what else to do — since neither of us had done anything like this before — but knowing that we had our friends’ support allowed us to proceed with confidence and enjoy every step of the journey.
If I had to give one joy to wrap all of these aforementioned joys together in a neat, joyous little bundle, I would say that what makes me the most happea is getting to bring the people I care about together to share a delicious meal. Whether that means trying out a recipe together, going to brunch, or throwing an elaborate dinner party, when everyone is present and positive memories are created then that is truly the ultimate joy. If you want to read more about what went into the ramen pop up check out my blog ramentality.com
Jamie Li, from Seattle WA is a great friend of the Green Pea Cookie team! She also works with Ramen Hero, one of our friends at KitchenTown, where we bake Peater. Thanks for the thoughts, Jamie!
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