To say that our country has hit a rough patch would be an understatement. We have elected a racist misogynist who is unfit to run our government, and I'm just as scared as any other Facebook pontificator, except I keep it to myself.
I swore loyalty to this country so many years ago, and no racist fear-monger can take that privilege away, but I've felt the hate firsthand, and I fear for what my immigrant parents and my future "half-breed" children will face.
But I am luckier than most. I live in southern California, and California gives me hope. Everywhere I go, I see a melting pot, an industrial mixer of people sitting and eating together. Unintentional, and a real-life version of the multiracial friend-groups manufactured for college catalogs.
Good food is one thing everyone can agree on, and noodle houses like Umenoya bring people together. No matter how bad a day is or how grim the world seems, there is always a good Spicy Tuna Bowl in the South Bay to brighten your outlook on life. The tuna is finely-chopped and heavily-sauced, but there's no days-old stench to hide. The tuna is fleshy and fresh, the sriracha is hot and sweet, and this spicy-mayo mix has perfect proportions over just-right sushi rice.
Tuna is a warm-up, and the Spicy Miso with Chashu is the main attraction. There is not a single person I know, regardless of race, who doesn't love a steaming bowl of ramen. Umenoya has one of the best bowls in the South Bay. The noodles are on the thicker, ropier side, and their broth is creamy like butter with floating fat. It's rich on the tongue, a savor like your fat-buds can't believe, but it's bearable, unlike the surfeit at Tsujita. Bean sprouts temper the texture, a child, crunchy wake-up call.
It's because of places like southern California that I know we'll be alright. This kind of diversity, this kind of acceptance and the kind of common ground found at places like Umenoya that makes me believe we can survive and eventually thrive.