One of my first presents under the Christmas tree this year, well, last year, was a book. Wrapped in black and grey baroque paper, the book was a little smaller than your standard size 8.5 x 11 and about an inch thick. Hardcover. I didn’t give it much thought; it was placed there several weeks before Christmas Day and to me, if I speculate too much, I go crazy. I didn’t peek because I forgot about it.
Come Christmas Day, I ripped it open to reveal Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan. You need to know something about me. I love, LOVE Momofuku (but more about that later), so the book was a perfect present. I had heard about it’s release in October but like most cookbooks, it fell by the wayside and I didn’t purchase it.
I’m telling you right now, this cookbook is the best I’ve ever read. And that’s saying a lot, because I actually read the book cover to cover. The recipes are separated into three sections containing recipes and commentary from three of his restaurants: Noodle Bar, Ssäm Bar, and Ko. The book is engrossing. Not just because the recipes, which I’m sure are delicious, but because of the stories. The writing is intimate: confessional, conversational, and peppered with profanity, just because. Meehan does an awesome job of capturing Chang’s voice. You’ll feel like you’re inside his head.
More than a cookbook, Momofuku tells us Chang’s culinary life story. It chronicles his search for the perfect bowl of ramen, his multiple disastrous openings, his tremendous rise to rock star chefdom, and the unease that comes with greatness. Honestly, you need to read the book. Even if you’ve never eaten any of his food, or even care to, read it as inspiration. It’s about a seemingly regular guy finding his purpose, failing, succeeding, failing again, succeeding, succeeding again, and realizing that he is “one very lucky bastard.” That being said, there’s a quote in the book from Chang’s childhood hero Ben Hogan: “the more I practice, the luckier I get.”
I’m hoping to get a little luckier by the end of cooking this book.
Yes, its been done before, but is it starting to get old? Not for me, I haven’t done it yet.
And last but not least: a shout out to David Chang. You’re my hero. No, seriously, you are.