Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Volume 5, Number 28: Ramen Ramblings

I discovered ramen noodles a little over 20 years ago. I don't remember for sure why I tried them, but I suspect the reason was that I was looking for something with microwave cooking directions on it (so I could cook it myself and thus not have to hassle my mother; also, I strongly preferred using the microwave for cooking back in those days).

I don't know what attracts me to them more--the texture of the noodles, or the fact that a package of ramen costs less than a postage stamp. Anyway, I like them so much that, for the past 10 years, I have had them every Saturday afternoon for lunch (long story short, it's become a personal tradition).

What really surprises me is that there isn't a great deal of variety in flavors for ramen noodles. The most commonplace flavors, by far, are "chicken" and "beef", followed by pork, shrimp and "oriental" (which is this sort of soy/gingery flavor I could never understand).

Maruchan (one of the top ramen noodle manufacturers in the world) makes several other flavors:
  • Lime Shrimp (my undisputed favorite, and not easy to come by)
  • Roast Chicken (I like it better than the regular chicken flavor)
  • Roast Beef (I also like this better than the regular beef flavor)
  • Mushroom (I hate mushrooms)
  • Creamy Chicken (tried it, didn't like it)
  • Curry Chicken (curry = too spicy)
  • Picante Beef (picante = too spicy)
OK, I just named 12 flavors. Why is that not a wide enough variety of flavors?

I'll tell you why: Because I've imagined ramen noodles in other flavors (especially "fast foods," which college students also like). Ideas:
  • Pizza (Maruchan could base this off their discontinued Tomato flavor; mix in some spices and some "cheese" and "beef" elements and you might have something)
  • Lemon chicken (hey, adding lime to the shrimp flavor worked so well for Maruchan, so adding lemon to either the Roast Chicken or regular Chicken flavor would rock)
  • Pepper steak (inspired by another discontinued soup, Campbell's Chunky Pepper Steak--use a "green pepper"-like flavoring instead of that ultra-spicy stuff they put in the Picante Beef flavor packet)
  • Cheeseburger (college students like burgers, too)
  • Roast Turkey (hey, it's poultry like chicken; they have chicken gravy and turkey gravy, and there's chicken-flavor ramen noodles but no turkey-flavor ramen)
  • Taco (I realize Maruchan does have a "Beef Taco" flavor in their Yakisoba noodle line--I've already tried it; the trouble is, it was too darn spicy--just cut back the spices and add a "cheddar cheese" flavoring to the flavor packet and that might be a winner, too)
  • Fried Chicken (I'd like ramen noodles that taste like either KFC's blend of herbs and spices, or Zehnder's--that's a fried chicken restaurant in Frankenmuth, Michigan that I haven't been to in 20 years)
  • Orange Chicken
  • Sweet & Sour Chicken
  • BBQ Chicken
  • Sweet & Sour Pork
  • BBQ Pork
  • BBQ Beef
  • Prawn cocktail (they have prawn cocktail-flavored potato chips in the United Kingdom, so prawn cocktail-flavored ramen noodles can't be that much of a stretch)
  • Lobster (Ty Ling used to make this flavor before withdrawing from the ramen noodle market several years ago)
  • Crab (another flavor Ty Ling made, but no longer)
A quick update on my previous blog entry: I'm starting to like Meijer's Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. M. I had given it the "thumbs down" because I thought it tasted like cough syrup, but the last 2-3 cans I've had tasted a lot better. Maybe I'm getting used to the taste, or maybe something was wrong with just the first 2 cans out of the 12-pack I bought. I don't know.

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