There are lots of sides to lots of coins, and I feel to experience things, one has to be versatile. Digging ditches all day in the hot sun probably won't lead you to a cellar temperature Belgian Dubbel the same way it'll take you to a tall Busch Light--but show up at the Hop Leaf asking for the latter and you're kind of missing the picture. Laugh at diner food on your way down to Fulton Market, then feel foolish realizing that in your basest, most in-need-of-comfort moments, that's just the sort of thing you're looking to eat.
|A couple finished bowls kicking around the house, with a sticky pork broth, braised pork shoulder, Benton's ham, pickled shiitake mushrooms, an egg poached in said broth and homemade noodles, imperfect but delicious|
|Lots of feet for a nice, sticky stock|
- Men, or noodle: how long you want them cooked for. I take mine nice and dense and chewy;
- Abura, meaning grease, or fat, or oil, depending on which translation you are more comfortable with. I took a good, heavy dollop of pork fat from the top of the broth pot;
- Kosa, essentially meaning how strong and salty you want your broth.
Back home, Mike Sula over at the Chicago Reader went with a chef by the name of Jeff Pikus way out to Mount Prospect to eat some ramen in a karaoke bar. It's a good read, and has added a destination to my ever-growing list, and seems to end on a note that inspired this post: there are many styles and sub-styles of ramen, and many ways to analyze them all; it might be impossible to approximate a single taste for everyone. Just look at the comments below the article. But let's put it this way: I'd much rather eat a bowl of ramen, or a fried chicken leg or a smoked rack that someone put a lot of care and craft into, even if it isn't exactly done how I'd do it, than the same carbon copy day in and day out because I thought it was perfect or it was all I ever had. Maybe it's because I'm not Italian ("that's not how mamma did it"), or because I'm not from the south ("that's not how momma did it"). But when all is said and done, authenticity is in the eye of the beholder. And we have lots of opportunities to try new things--just follow my Carolinan friend's example and eat eight times a day.