Thursday, July 23, 2015

Guilty Pleasures

Some Mondays, rare ones, I get away from the restaurant early depending on my paperwork load. With a significant amount of effort last week to minimize my Monday paperwork, I was home by 1pm after only a very brief 6-hour day. On these rare occasions, I like to celebrate by having lunch with Ann and now that it is summer, with Carter too. Accordingly, I brought home some instant ramen for the three of us this past Monday.

Do you have a guilty pleasure? I certainly do. Being a restaurant chef and having access to awesome raw materials, essentially everything I eat is made from scratch and so I just do not eat pre-prepared foods. Except that I have a weakness for some of the more exotic varieties of instant ramen, not your ubiquitous Nissin ramen brick, but the crazy ones that are not labeled in English. And my weakness is not limited to ramen, instant pho and udon are also in the same category for me.

Please don't tell me what is in those seasoning packets, because I know enough to know that ignorance is bliss. Just bring me a bowl of the stuff now and again. I do generally have to doctor the soup with a squeeze of sriracha, some cilantro, a squeeze of lime, or perhaps a touch of hoisin. Once this is done, I can have a quick and halfway tasty meal that not only fills the belly, but it also scratches the guilty pleasure itch.

Monday, I was surfing the instant soup shelf at the Food Maxx on the way home. Yes, they have a lot of shelving just for instant soups, counting dozens and dozens of flavors and brands. One in particular caught my eye, though because I don't read even the slightest bit of Korean, I had no way of knowing what it contained. My eye was attracted to the flames, the exclamation point, and the English word "mania." I wasn't sure what kind of psycho stuff I was getting, but that's never stopped me before and it sure wasn't stopping me on Monday.

WTF?

I assumed the ramen would be spicy but wasn't sure until I opened the flavor packet and tried it out. Spicy yes, very, but kind of one-dimensional in flavor, even with the other little packet of toasted sesame seeds and nori flakes. This was definitely the most spicy prepackaged food I have ever tasted, most manufacturers really laming out on the heat so as not to offend anyone, but not nearly close to my maximum spice tolerance level.

After lunch, for giggles, I decided to use Google to see if I could find out more about this spicy ramen. Little did I know that my searches would lead me to YouTube and dozens of videos of spicy ramen challenges, of various people spluttering and choking and gasping their way through bowls of these Spicy Fried Chicken Ramen.

Spicy? Yes. Worthy of a challenge? No.

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