Dear Ramen… A Love Letter.

It was a warm breezy early evening. I sat at a table for two near one of the large open ceiling to floor windows — feeling the wind slowly brush my hair back. I had just gone to the Budapest bath houses and felt like I was floating; despite a complete lack of sleep. Maybe this was all a dream after all? This place was mostly empty, but it was only 6pm so the dinner rush hadn’t yet begun. That’s when the waitress brought me a platter filled with small Japanese food plates. A little of everything. Curry, ramen, pickled veggies and some sort of salad with tiny bits of fried chicken.

I wasn’t expecting much.

But I was feeling lonely and down and tired. And Japanese food happens to be my comfort food.

Something about the way the ramen broth glistened made me start with the small bowl in the center. I’ve always liked ramen — who doesn’t — but I was mostly expecting a warm mediocre broth to soothe my non-existent troubles. And yet, with one slurp my eyes quickly widened and my heart did a little flip. My GOD.

What is this?!?

Seriously, what in the world is this concoction? The broth was the most perfect liquid I’ve ever tasted — and that includes the insanely yummy Ivan Ramen in NYC. It was salty and savory and oh so damn GOOD. The noodles weren’t too chewy like some I know and the tiny bowl was filled with seaweed — my favorite ramen topping. Nothing in this world existed — certainly not the other two plates on my platter. What did they even matter? I had this ramen. I needed nothing else. Ever. I slurped and slurped. Closing my eyes when it felt natural if nothing than to really-truly experience the ramen. How can something so simple be so complex?

Mere minutes later — the best minutes of my life, I could say — the bowl in front of me lay empty. Sad, but glad it happened I quickly picked up my phone to concoct a plan to have more incredible ramen. And while I’m sure no other ramen will replace that fleeting experience, I have a feeling Tokyo will have something special in store for me.

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It had been one extraordinary food experience after another in Budapest — they really know what’s up. I’ve liked most of the food I’ve eaten on my travels lately, but it’s been a hot minute since I’ve had an experience. You know?! And as much I’ve enjoyed the local dishes — goulash and sausages and the langos and what not — it’s not my favorite. Maybe if it was cold af, but I’m over here sweating through my last clean shirt. So I went looking for something un-local and damn, they have not disappointed.

_____________

On another occasion, I took my sweet time bonding with a bowl of cauliflower soup. Floating there — on top of the white frothy bowl — was a giant piece of camembert. Just hanging out as one does in a bowl of deliciously smooth soup. Jesus. I have gained so much weight in the last 8 months. And the best part? I don’t care. Like not even a little. The only thing that concerns me is the manner in which my pants have started to feel — tight. It’s not the most comfortable. You know?

But that’s not the point of what I’m writing about right now. It’s about Ramen. Well, and the incredible food I ate in Budapest in the mere 3 days I had there. So I’ll say one more thing — there’s no way in hell I can continue eating like this for too much longer without it wreaking havoc on my health long term, but for now I am going to continue eating and experiencing alllll the food.

Speaking of which — I have been blessed (did I use that right?) with some of my favorite meals in Budapest. Like MY GOD, my taste buds have been doing the funky dance at every meal.

Example: Fluffy salty pancakes topped with avocado, arugula, beetroot hummus, some sort of spicy tiny red onions, chick peas and a split pea spread. Oh, and bacon.  — Sonkapult, Budapest

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The above was written moments after I ate the mentioned cauliflower soup — days ago (which at this point feels like eons). I am now in my last stop in Europe — in the lovely city of Bucharest. I’ve gone grocery shopping and even got an avocado (YAY) so I’ll be eating at my hostel most days, but I did have really good sushi last night and plan on tasting one or two other spots. And of course the ice cream… gotta try the ice cream.

 

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