Sometimes I amaze myself. I can come home after work and toss together a lemon tart, and hey! It actually tastes good. Or slap together a trio of tiny panna cottas that…yes, actually taste good. Or go out to eat at amazing restaurants five nights in a row. Or forget dinner altogether and enjoy three bottles (was it four?)of wonderful wine. Cooking good food. Dining out on great food, and all marinated in very good wine. Tra la la la la!
And sometimes I absolutely disgust myself, because I resort to “food.” That’s “food” in quotation marks because many late nights in a job that most people probably would not kill for, and I have to reduce myself to…ramen.
Ramen? What’s wrong with ramen? There’s nothing inherently wrong with ramen. In fact, ramen is a whole respectable cuisine unto itself with outposts like Ramenya, Asahi Ramen, and Kinchans on Sawtelle. Some of the places make the noodles by hand. The broth is made there with bones and vegetables. Menus at these restaurants have all varieties of ingredients and flavors: chicken, beef, seafood, curry, vegetables, eggs, tofu.
But tonight, I am reduced to instant ramen. It’s not even the $1.99 ramen that comes in a package that still, you have to boil in a pot on the stove. At least you still feel like you’re cooking. I’m talking about the thirty-five cent ramen that you rehydrate in its own styrofoam cup with hot water from the red spout on the Sparkletts cooler. It’s ready in three minutes.
It’s called Maruchan. It’s called chicken flavor but there is nothing chicken about the “broth” that seeps up sunshine yellow through the dried, twisted tangle of what looks like has been pulled out of the secure paper shredder. The noodles look like paper, which is explains why they taste like paper, too. And there are “vegetables.” Before adding water, they look like those few renegade chopped vegetables that are now stuck dried on the back of the stove top because they somehow fled my wok when I made fried rice six days ago. But after I add that hot water to the cup, those hard, wrinkled, puny freeze-dried “vegetables” plump up and turn bright neon green, orange, and yellow, so they look like extremely fresh peas, carrots, and corn. So fresh, it’s unnatural.
Instant ramen is terrible horrible disgusting despicable. And yet, I still slurp slurp slurp down the entire salty, MSG-laden 280 calories. *sigh* I’ll either be asleep in ten minutes or wide awake from the sodium-flooded increase in my blood pressure. And tomorrow? Tomorrow I’ll be a bloated, thirsty mess.
But hey, at least I get some variety. Next time, it’ll be “shrimp.”