Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ramen: staple of college life

I had an intense love affair with packaged ramen noodles. I loved the many flavors available: beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, oriental (whatever that was!), creamy chicken. I loved that they cooked up in as much time as it took to boil water plus three minutes. I loved that they would go on sale at Safeway for ten cents a pop. I loved that they could be jazzed up (or turned into "posh ramen," as my English flatmates called it) with egg, green onion, slices of fish cake, and just about anything else that suited my fancy.

And then one day, it was over.

I became a food snob. I stopped buying groceries at Safeway. I stopped eating such overly-processed foods. I stopped eating foods with such a high sodium content. Ramen fell to the wayside as I became someone who ate fresh, local, organic food.

Recently, though, I noticed that my local Whole Foods sells an organic version of ramen, made by a company called Koyo. (Then again, what can't you find in an organic version at Whole Foods, king of the organic-yet-processed?) It comes in what I assume are meant to be more "adult" flavors, like mushroom, lemongrass, and tofu and miso. It still has a ton of sodium in it, but it claims to be made of organic noodles. I bought a couple packages, willing to give them a try.

So what does my palate think? Well, it's not the same as the stuff I ate for years in high school and college. The flavors don't have that delicious meat-based taste. In fact, they don't really taste like anything, except salt. Plus the noodles soak up the broth too quickly in the bowl, which make them extremely mushy and unappetizing as you get to the end. My verdict: If you want ramen, stick to the traditional conventional stuff. If you're going to go processed, then go all the way.

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