As I have mentioned several times, we are a military family. We subject ourselves to stressful separations, frequent moves and general uncertainty about the future. It’s got it’s ups and downs, and admittedly, the downs can be frustrating and downright scary. But we do it with a willingness and sacrifice to support the military in its efforts to protect and defend our nation.
So what does that have to do with an Asian Citrus Ramen Salad?? This time, it’s about embracing nostalgia for the GOOD things that come from this life. While we don’t always get to live where we want, near the people we love, or in climates of our choosing, we have the chance to meet people we would never have had the chance to meet otherwise. Folks from all walks of life, from all corners of the globe–our life is like a tossed salad. It’s never the same twice, and you never know what you’re going to get. Don’t like it? Adapt!
One of our truly fantastic opportunities over the course of numerous moves was living in Europe. That did not suck. And what was even better was the confluence of people we met, lived near, and worked with during our time there. Those connections never really go away when one of us moves on to the next location. We always keep tabs on where friends and colleagues are, hoping paths will cross again. And when they do, the stories and “remember-whens” are (almost) worth the time apart.
When we were overseas, we were immensely fortunate to become friends with a couple who were very different from us in life experiences, but shared the same sense of humor and embracing nature for the life we all lead. For this little story, we’ll call them “Henry & Yvette”. When our duty locations synced up again in Virginia, we made sure to find time to connect over food, drink and lots of laughs whenever our busy schedules (and Northern Virginia traffic!) would allow.
At one dinner hosted by this wonderful couple, Yvette served a Ramen Coleslaw Salad. I’d never had such a thing! And even though my husband and I are not normally fans of traditional coleslaw, this dish stuck in our minds (and got gobbled up by both of us!) for years to come. I always figured I’d get the recipe from them and make it at other duty stations, adding it to my collection of recipes I’ve collected from friends near and far.
Fast forward about 10 years (truly, time does fly!), and we got the sad news that Henry had passed away suddenly. We were saddened for his family, and began retelling the stories we had of our times with him and Yvette. He was hilarious–he was someone you could not possibly be in the same room with and not have tears running down your face from laughter. He made the best of whatever came his way, and his love for life was contagious.
So I thought it time to try and make my own version of the dish we’d so enjoyed with them. That may not seem like much of a tribute to some, but our military life doesn’t always allow us the luxury to be near one another in crisis. We find little ways to support, honor, and remember our shared experiences. This is my tiny effort to do that.
I found a version of this salad after a deep dive on Pinterest. After using inspiration from several different recipes, I cobbled together one that I think “Henry” would have loved.
I hope you enjoy my version of Military Life Citrus Ramen Salad, too!