Ben was not about to give up his ramen when he didn’t have Edna around to cook for him anymore. He was tall enough and responsible enough by then to use the stove, so he started fixing his own.
Back then, the only ramen most Americans knew about was Top Ramen, which as far as I can tell has not changed an iota through the decades: noodles boiled and softened in a broth of artificial meat flavor, herbs and a heaping helping of MSG. Not health food, but quick, tasty and filling (25c/serving back then – tough to beat!).
As soon as he learned that he could add other foods to his ramen, he started asking for ingredients: eggs to poach in the broth, greens and peas for flavor and texture, leftover chicken and pork for protein.
Ben had always been fascinated by food preparation – as a toddler, he would pull each of the pots and pans out of the cupboard and announce its purpose – so as soon as he had access to the fridge and stove, he began inventing his own food.
A decade or so later, when Ben was living with me and attending community college, my mom came up from LA to visit. I had a pre-existing commitment to teach a spanking class, so I suggested Ben cook dinner so the two of them could spend some time together. Mom valiantly soldiered through a big bowl of stew á la Ben – which included many chunks of tripe, which she loathed. What a trouper!
1 package Top Ramen (Ben preferred the pork flavor, but Top Ramen doesn’t seem to make it anymore – substitute Oriental flavor, or the pork flavor of a similar inexpensive brand of instant ramen)
1 handful raw spinach
1 handful frozen peas
1 oz. chopped cooked meat – chicken, pork, ham, etc.
Bring water to a boil according to package directions. Drop noodles into the water. Loosen them with a fork until they are separated and flexible. Add the flavor packet and stir it in. Break the egg into the simmering broth. Lay the spinach leaves on top and simmer, until the egg is cooked and the spinach is wilted. Add the meat and peas and simmer for a moment till they’re hot. Serve. Don’t forget to make extra for Grandma Sue if she’s visiting.