I’m currently in Japan, specifically at the Nishi Hongan-ji in Kyoto, AKA headquarters of Nishi Jodo Shinsu Buddhism in Japan. In my absence, here’s an ode to my new favorite junk food, ramen (originally from Japan, how’s that for a segue?)
Dear Ramen Noodles,
I shunned you when I got to college. Wary of the “freshman fifteen”, I knew the ready availability of a Costco multi-pack of instant hot noodle meals would be my downfall. So for five years, I steered clear of you, and eventually, forgot about your comforting mushiness, the umami of your salty broth.
Until this summer. My lab job gave me quite a bit of downtime, but in ten-minute chunks throughout the day. Going to get a cafeteria lunch was impossible. Bringing one? I used up a loaf of bread for sandwiches once this summer and never went back to get more. Luckily, the lab office was well-stocked with ramen noodles…and a hotpot. And out of laziness a new love was born.But really, you all know how much I love food that takes minimal time and effort to prepare. And even as I learn about fatty liver and atheroschlerosis and other really good reasons to avoid terrible junk food with its nasty artificial “chicken flavor,” somehow, I still can’t let you go, Ramen. Perhaps it’s the direct jolt of MSG that fools me into thinking you’re a food with real substance. Or maybe it’s how you fulfill ten times my daily sodium limit (this, for a girl who habitually eats a little mound of salt out of her palm when the craving hits, is a real selling point). Or the way your curly noodles melt away into starchy softness that makes me forgive the fact that I just ate a bunch of hydrolyzed corn proteins and preservatives and “chicken powder”.
So thank you, Ramen, for nourishing me through this period in my life where convenience and comfort clearly take top priority. Someday I’ll look back at my eating habits through medical school and grimace, but for now, I’ll take my dinners with extra silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent, also used to MAKE GLASS).
P.S. I promise I’m not inept in the kitchen…why, the other night, in an Italian frenzy, I made a lovely spaghetti alla carbonara. And the pasta was al dente and everything.