A Horrible Confession – Just Add Water

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.

“edible” product of a paper shredder

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.

rachael ray ain’t got nothin’ on 3 minute ramen
serve this to children? now that definitely deserves a conviction

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.”

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Xericx June 23, 2005 at 7:27 am

That’s nothing, I had Q-doba for the first time tonight….uggh…


2 Anonymous June 23, 2005 at 3:46 pm

Oh God, you poor thing! Can’t you at least pick something up, even if it’s quick…Whole Foods? Even Ralph’s roast chicken would be better then instant ramen. I feel terrible for you!


3 elmomonster June 23, 2005 at 4:43 pm

Oh gawd! I love this post! LOVE IT! I love that you took the time to take pictures! I love that you wrote so wittily about it! I love that I sooo related to your predicament! There were many a late night as an undergrad where Instant Lunch was kind of my version of nicotine and heroin. It’s job was to keep me going long enough to finish that paper…and that was its purpose – sustenance for the weary and poor.

But I also recall that a long time ago, Maruchan had these faux styrofoam like hunks of freeze dried scrambled egg they had the gall to put into their Instant Lunch. It was like eating a preserved piece of yellow turd! The consistency was horrifyingly spongy and alien! It actually made the rest of the ingredients that you lovingly described, normal. Come to think of it, I also remember the beef flavor had these mummified pieces of cow in it. It looked like dried jerky before you put water on it, and looked even worse when it was rehydrated.

Thanks again for the laugh!


4 Daily Gluttony June 23, 2005 at 5:29 pm

hey girl, ain’t no thang, sometimes these instant cup o’lunches are a lifesaver! (my favorite is the beef flavor, what’s yours?)

i have a few of these as well as other dehydrated astronaut foods like packaged insto-oatmeal in my office for those craaazy days when i don’t even have time to go pee. =P


5 sarah June 23, 2005 at 5:59 pm

xericx: what on earth is q-doba?!?!

anonymous: well, the thing is, the instant ramen is in the kitchen here at my office, so when i’m working late, it’s just too easy. believe me, if i were actually on my way driving home, i’d pick something up. in fact, then i’d just wait to get home and toss together some greens for a salad, or even eat cold tofu with nori (which is actually one of my favorite things anyay) – LOL!


6 Kirk June 23, 2005 at 7:19 pm

Cup-A-Noodles, nothing wrong with that. I woulda’ gladly had one of those the other night!!! Instead, I had canned tuna on rice with soy sauce……..


7 Xericx June 23, 2005 at 7:41 pm

Q-doba is a fast food mexican chain. I was driving home after the gym last night and was starving….people told me it was a better version of Baja Fresh, but it was pretty bad. A carbon copy of Chipotle.


8 sarah June 23, 2005 at 7:47 pm

elmo and pam: on the beef…well, the pantry here at the office sometimes has chicken, sometimes has beef, and i must say – the “beef” is quite frightening. if ever there is mad cow, we will never have to worry about contracting it via the “beef” ramen because i am quite certain that it does not come from a cow! lol!


9 Stephanie June 24, 2005 at 3:20 am

I love the noodles. I like to eat them uncooked!

I used to take a few packs with me to work at the radio station, so when I’d end up staying later than planned I’d always have something to munch on.


10 sarah June 24, 2005 at 4:27 pm

stephanie: in college, we used to take the bagged packages of sapporo ichiban – the original ramen – lol! and pout the little silver seasoning packet into the bag with the noodles, crush the noodles up, and snack on that straight out of the bag, too. lol! garsh – college brings on such funny food habits, huh?


11 Anonymous June 24, 2005 at 5:20 pm

Your description of the ramen noodles as paper and the vegetables like the ones stuck to your stove top is hilarious! The “renegade chopped vegetables.”


12 hermz June 24, 2005 at 7:31 pm

I really don’t like the freeze-dried (or whatever) egg in those things. That is, I don’t like it when it’s rehydrated… somehow it’s okay when it’s dry and styrofoam-like. So when I eat a cup-o-noodles (man, it’s been a while) I pick those out and eat them before I add the water. [just adding my own little ramen story. :) ]


13 sarah June 24, 2005 at 10:47 pm

you like them freeze-dried?!?! you freak.

(‘cuz, you know, eating ramen noodles with the seasoning packet right out of the bag dry is totally normal – lol!)


14 Anonymous October 11, 2005 at 3:17 am

This is from a ramen lover. I actually miss those lovely chunks of freeze-dried egg they used to put in the instant noodles. I would eat them both wet and dry. Delicious. Now I’ll have to just buy some freeze-dried eggs from somewhere that sells them, and add them myself.


15 sarah October 11, 2005 at 4:55 pm

Anonymous: You just made me LOL! “chunks of freeze-dried eggs” is just an incredible phrase. LOL!


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