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5. Toppings

Finally, the toppings for a ramen dish should be used to enhance the flavors and your overall experience with the dish. Look for toppings like chashu (slow-roasted pork belly made with garlic, ginger, sake and soy sauce), a soft-boiled egg, nori paper and fish cakes.

Now that you know what to look for in a good bowl of ramen, here's how to eat it:

Kick back at Down House.
Troy Fields
Kick back at Down House.
Bowls of various ramen at Ramen Tatsu-ya in Austin.
Katharine Shilcutt
Bowls of various ramen at Ramen Tatsu-ya in Austin.

1. Enjoy the Experience

Eating ramen is all about the overall experience. Remember to have fun while enjoying the flavors of the entire ramen bowl.

2. Slurp It Up

When you eat ramen, don't feel the need to be proper or have perfect dining etiquette; you should slurp your noodles to enjoy the ramen as much as possible. In fact, slurping the noodles lowers the amount of heat and enhances the flavor, so slurp them up.

3. Drink from the Bowl

Sure, it doesn't follow proper dining etiquette, but when you eat your noodles, you'll be left with a big bowl of broth. Rather than slowly eating the broth with a spoon, grab that bowl and drink it like a glass of water.
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NEWS

BACON MANIA MARCHES ON
Yankee Candle to release bacon-scented candle in May.

KATHARINE SHILCUTT

Occasionally, Twitter has the seemingly magical powers of a wishing well. Just a couple of Fridays ago, I dropped a penny into the Twitter well and wished for a bacon- and coffee-scented candle from Yankee Candle. And now, through the magic of the Internet, that wish has [mostly] come true.

The Massachusetts-based candle company is releasing two new candles on May 13: MMM, Bacon! and Movie Night. As the name would imply, MMM, Bacon! is bacon-scented, while the Movie Night candle smells of fresh buttered popcorn.

In a press release, the candle company spoke directly to the arteries of a million pork-obsessed Americans: "You've heard it said that 'everything's better with bacon' — and Yankee Candle agrees." I may not agree 100 percent with this statement — plenty of dishes are better unmolested by bacon, actually — but I'm excited nevertheless.

I'm even excited enough to forgive Yankee Candle for being...slightly behind the times when it states that "bacon is poised to be the hot trend of the summer." There is an entire Wikipedia entry devoted to "bacon mania" (an official term now, apparently), which has been "sweeping the country" since at least 2008.

That's five years. Five years of increasingly crazed bacon mania, leading Salon to proclaim: "Bacon is dead! Long live bacon!" (That was in 2009, by the way.) And although media outlets like The Stranger have been predicting the imminent collapse of bacon mania for almost as long as bacon mania has existed, the bacon craze isn't over yet.

"Thankfully, baconmania has almost run its course," wrote Erica C. Barnett in The Stranger in May 2009. "Trends inevitably go through their phases — early adoption, buzz, general excitement, overexposure — and bacon is in its terminal stage, clinging to relevance, grasping at any opportunity to cash in on its dwindling cachet as its 15 minutes come to an end."

Perhaps Yankee Candle's bacon-scented candle will be that final sign of the bacon apocalypse: the final scroll that's opened before bacon mania is raptured into food-trend heaven and a new era of crawfish-mania or kale-mania rises to take its place.

Or maybe bacon mania is here to stay. If the increasing popularity of Ron Swanson — the iconic, red-blooded, red-meat-eating, woodworking, government-loathing, bacon-worshipping, all-American male depicted by Nick Offerman on Parks and Recreation — is anything to judge by, we may only be in the initial stages of a bacon craze that could last generations.

Would Ron Swanson buy a bacon-scented Yankee Candle? I doubt it. He'd probably just make his own...out of real bacon.
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SNACKSHOT

CUPCAKES ARE DEAD
Long live these five new faddish treats.

MOLLY DUNN

Cupcakes have been the rage in America for several years now. After stores were opened exclusively to sell them, television shows were centered on the little individual desserts and the public went crazy over different cupcake presentations and decorations, it seemed as if cupcakes were the end-all-be-all desserts.

However, recent results show that Crumbs Bake Shop's stock has fallen by 22 percent. What was once being sold for more than $13 a share is now going for a measly $1.30. In addition, Sprinkles has delayed its much-ballyhooed cupcake ATM.

The cupcake industry just isn't what it was a few years ago, when everyone and his mother wanted to get a cupcake — they're ­elegant and have interesting designs and sweet flavors. I have always loved cupcakes; they're like your own personal cakes. But there's the problem. Everyone knows how to make cupcakes, which has caused public demand to diminish for something so homemade and simple to put together, as noted in a Wall Street Journal article about the crash of the cupcake market. Why would you pay nearly $4 for one when you can make a dozen or two at home for less than that?

One of the biggest draws with cupcakes, however, was the fact that they're little; they are easy to package to go or to eat in a shop. Their size means that they're the perfect treat for an individual. But there are other small treats we should keep our eyes open for — they could be the next big, or little, things.

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