Knights in Conversation: Ramen Noodles

Knights+in+Conversation%3A+Ramen+Noodles

Danielle Brennan, Arts Editor

Every Thursday, a group of students—and occasionally flavor-loving faculty—congregate by the grab-and-go table outside the lunchroom to enjoy ramen together by the windows looking out on the courtyard. Head of Ramen Operations Luna Gaisford ’22 invited The Vanguard to join the meal with her and her adviser, Upper School (US) History and Social Sciences Department Head Susan Glazer.

 

How did ramen lunches begin?

Luna: I was the first one that actually started doing it. What’s kind of funny is I wrote my entire Common Application essay for college on it. It started last year during the pandemic. We were back in school, and the cafeteria wasn’t open. It was either bring your own lunch or get a sandwich or whatever the heck so I decided to bring ramen.

Ms. Glazer: And you had to figure out where [you were] going to put the kettle, where to plug in the kettle. That was a discussion during Gender and Sexuality class, [Ms. Glazer’s junior history course, which Luna took].

Luna: What I started doing was just bringing in some ramen for myself every Friday, and I would get it at [US Counselor Doug] Newman’s previous office, which was in the Nicholas Athletic Center (NAC). He had a kettle, so I’d get the water from there. And then Claire Chu ’22 wanted some, so then it was just us two doing it. And then all these other people wanted some, and I [thought,] “Well, I guess now it’s going to be a thing.” By that time, we had gone back into the main building. So, I started bringing a kettle and got more ramen. Every Wednesday afternoon I go to H-Mart, which is a Korean market chain, to get all the ramen. The only change from last year to this year is that the day is now Thursday just because I have a free block before lunch, and it’s a lot easier for me to get set up. I do it once a week.

 

How did more students and faculty get involved?

Luna: Well, Ms. Glazer is my adviser, so I told her.

Ms. Glazer: Yeah, I was involved in discussing where to plug in the kettle. I started coming periodically, when we all had Gender and Sexuality class together last year, and I was able to poach some ramen. Now, I think each time, I’ve basically tried a different variety.

Luna: There are all types of ramen. There’s miso, soy sauce, tonkatsu, [and others].

 

What’s your favorite thing about these lunches?

Luna: There are two things. One, this is much better than anything I’ll get from the cafeteria—no offense to Director of Dining Services Keith Jones. And two, people are here. We talk; we have ramen. I give ramen to people; they’re happy. I just love ramen because of the people who come here and because I can give it to them and just see them being happy about it. That’s what I love.

Ms. Glazer: It’s like a treat. I love ramen, and I love trying out all the different types.

 

Do you have a favorite memory from one of these?

Luna: In the springtime last year, still kind of sweater weather, I brought it outside, and it just started steaming, and I could just put my face over it. It was just me and Claire sitting on the bench, holding it to stay warm.

Ms. Glazer: This past Tuesday, Luna brought food for our advisory. She showed me her locker. The locker then was just the kettle and the food that she brought in for advisory. And then on Thursdays it looks like the kettle and a gazillion things of ramen. You know, most people just leave their books in there and stuff. I was like, “that’s so great.” It’s a very happy locker.

 

What do you usually talk about?

Luna: We complain about this week. What did you hate about this week? And then we all just get to complain, and it’s great. We’re stressed, but we try to get all those worries out.

Ms. Glazer: There’s usually a big group here.

Luna: Ramen is like a stress reliever. It’s the last week of deadline for a lot of college applications. I know a lot of people that just came through are doing them right now. It’s nice to give them something to be happy about.

Ms. Glazer: [Taking a bite] I have to tell you: I like that this one has a thickness, a creaminess to it. I like the miso.

Luna: That’s because it’s tonkatsu.

Ms. Glazer: Also, I love the mayonnaise because I hate American mayonnaise. When you said it [was mayonnaise], I was like, “Uh oh.”

Luna: [In] Japanese mayo, the main difference is that it’s sweeter. It has more of a distinctive taste, but it’s the same texture same stuff. It’s just better because it’s made in Japan.

 

[Danielle explains this ramen has far more flavor than the typical instant, packaged ramen she eats—Maruchan, Luna guesses correctly.]

 

Ms. Glazer: Oh yeah, that got me through college. I used to eat that packaged ramen with the chicken flavor. To elevate, I’d throw an egg in, like egg drop soup.

Luna: I used to make fried rice that isn’t really rice; it’s just rice with bulgogi beef and then whatever the heck I want as toppings as well, and then I put fried eggs on top.

 

What’s your favorite flavor of ramen?

Luna: Dumpling Daughters’ three-day pork ramen is my favorite. They’re actually a restaurant, but they do their own ramen. Every time my family eats there, I get it. They do fresh noodles, and they marinate the pork for three days.

Ms. Glazer: I like this one. [Points to the one she’s eating.]

Luna: Tonkatsu.

Ms. Glazer: Yes, I like this one a lot.

 

[Luna asks Danielle how her ramen is, to which she answers, “It’s great, actually,” but explains she’s having some trouble eating it.]

 

Do you have any tips on ramen-eating technique?

Luna: Just slurp it. It’s kind of like a mechanical-pencil thing where you slowly bring it in with your mouth, like [“om nom nom” sound effect]. But other than that, just eat it.

Ms. Glazer: Do you feel like this ramen should be eaten with a chopsticks-spoon situation?

Luna: I don’t really care what people use to eat it. All I care about is that they’re eating it. Who would turn down ramen?