(Or, how I learned not to let my prejudices limit my mortal experiences)
Koie was my first love. Ever since I moved to Oslo in the depths of winter five months ago, Koie was there for me. Like a lighthouse in the whirling snow, the large windows shone a yellow light from a distance as if to say: “Here you shall find the warmth of your home and the taste of your childhood”.
I often planned my commute in order to avoid Torggata for that very reason. It was an incredibly dangerous street. I would try to submerge myself in the river of people as deep as I could but inevitably I would be dragged out by some unseen, urgent, ancestral force.
The ramen has everything one would need. A cloudy and filling broth, bouncy noodles, carefully sliced pork and half of a half-boiled egg, of course. I cycled happily through the menu: Shoyu, Miso, Tonkotsu, Shoyo, Miso, Tonkotsu.
Jens, the bald, buff Dutch waiter with a suprisingly high-pitched voice came to know my rhythm; and for a while, life was good.
I invited Vivian to Koie. How Vivian and I came to be friends is the subject of another tragedy which we will not delve into here. She went for the Shoyu and I took the Tonkotsu.
We ate in silence.
I forgot to ask what she thought of it and when I finally looked up her face was hidden behind the bowl she had lifted with both her hands like a priest at communion - or more accurately, a Hong Kong woman in a noodle bar - which is exactly what she was.
She placed the drained bowl onto the table and daintily patted her lips dry with the napkin.
“It’s alright,” she said. “But it’s missing something.”
If I’ve learnt anything in my short life it’s that women usually take their time to tell you what they think. But when they do, the words will be so carefully crafted and considered kind of like a dagger of damascus steel folded a thousand times into a sharp point that a man cannot help but admire it as it cuts his heart.
Not only will the words be so cutting, they will also be plain. So plain as to imply that it is not merely an opinion but a long-standing and well-known truth.
Not only was the emperor naked, he had always been naked.
Not only was the soup missing something, it had always been missing something.
And it was always such.
Jesus, she was right. I lifted my own bowl to my mouth and searched for the depth in the broth but like a path that leads into bush and bramble, there was nowhere left to go.
Feeling a bit sick, I clapsed my hands in a prayer over my empty bowl and rested my head on my knuckles. I could feel Jens coming closer.
“All is good?” he asked, smiling unwittingly like a man basking triumphantly in post-coital afterglow.
“Yep” I reply without looking up, like a woman drifiting manically in post-coital disappointment.
He left with his shoulders back and chest out, typical men. I keep my head down and pray harder.
Vivian slides a phone under my arched hands and into my view.
Hrimnir - exploring traditional culinary techniques from the North and Japan
“It just opened and everyone’s been raving about it. I’ve booked us a table.”
Guys, find yourselves a woman who drags you out of ramen-self-pity with the promise of better ramen.