Ramen Redux

Oh yeah, I’m talking about those cheap and cheerful — cheerful at least to numberless poor students waiting for the monthly deposit from the Bank of Dad or their own paycheck from Whole Foods —  cellophane packages. These:

I don’t think that these packets were on offer when I was at McGill. My bff Joanne Kathan and I would stir up mac and cheese from the blue box, add a can of chopped tomatoes and call it dinner.When he was a student Lou lived at home eating his mother’s cooking some nights and hitting the Chicago dives and restaurants other nights. I’m  sad I never went to The Bakery with with him.

But he remains really cheap and pretty cheerful,especially at lunchtime. (Ancestors from the parsimonious town of Lucca, don’t you know.) When those crinkly packs of ramen noodles go on sale for ten for a buck I’m trying to find space in the pantry, because he stocks up.

Now, a cuppa ramen is as tempting to me as a cup of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom: not!  In the days of PMS I’d break open a package and eat the noodles as if they were Cheetos: anything for that carb fix and the crunch.But he’s come up with what he calls Improved Ramen, which transforms that salty mug of noodles into a cheap bowlful of goodness that might pass even Mrs. Obama’s tuff guidelines.

Reach into the vegetable bin, and pull out the small and frail inhabitants: a baby carrot, a scallion, a couple of shreds of Chinese cabbage, an aging mushroom, and slice or dice them fine. If you have frozen peas, grab a handful. Add them to the salty stock package and let them bubble away until tender. Throw in the noodles, stir, pour a glass of water or Orangiata and give the pot a last swipe with a spoon. This tastes best served in the mug you received during an NPR pledge drive.

Even I have to hand it to him: it’s good.



Filed under Body, Food, Less than 50 cents

6 responses to “Ramen Redux

  1. Dean

    Put a fried egg on top!

  2. Dean, I like the way you think.

  3. freakyfrites

    John is the master of ramen! His favorite brand comes in onion flavor and includes a packet of some kind of industrial strength onion oil!

    John adds veggies, too. He also likes to drop in an egg.

  4. Kim

    The only problem I have with such noodles (Mr. Noodle especially which was the noodle of choice when I was in university) is that they are soooo full of MSG that my throat would close a wee bit and I’d have a migraine for days… So in the balance of things, if I have to go cheap and non-msgish, I choose the blue box – with added steamed brocolli and tomatoes. 🙂

  5. My oldest nephew causes this “couch food”—not that you eat it there, but when he was in cooking school and working part-time for a living, he could scrounge enough change out of the couch to buy a pack or two for dinner.

    Quick and easy “pad thai” is either to drain the noodles and toss with the seasonings, or drain the seasoned ones, and top with crushed roasted peanuts, some thin-sliced scallions, and a handful of bean sprouts. (And this also makes a kind of bastardized pho, with sriracha and cilantro).

  6. Kim Shook

    I stir fry these to make an easy side dish and I also toast them (without boiling first) to make a crunchy topping for Napa cabbage salad. I haven’t eaten a package as intended since college, but then I’d eat one entire package as a meal. Cheap and filling (for about 1 hour)!

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