Friday, December 28, 2007

An illustrated haiku for the year's end

Fast food detritus;
Instant noodles, lazy living.
Plastic fork forest.

Oh, I used to have far more than this! Over three years in this pad I had accumulated dozens and dozens of these little disposable forks that you get inside bowls of instant noodles. I had a bit of a clean-out a while ago. I am a terrible hoarder - I always think that these things are going to come in handy one day for a picnic or something.

The only thing I can say in my defence is that instant noodles in China are much better than the dreaded 'Pot Noodle' we are used to back in the UK. Here it's big business - a pretty much obligatory accompaniment to long train journeys, a regular standby for single people everywhere, a huge component in the diet of most poor students. You get a solid portion and a wide range of flavours. And the flavour isn't just a packet of dried powder, as it is back home: you also get one mini-packet of desiccated vegetable shreds (not much, but just enough to give the suggestion of there being actually something a little more than just carbohydrate to this fare - there are even a few tiny chunks of reconstituted meat usually) and another of flavouring paste (usually heavy on animal fat and chilli...... I'm not sure that I've ever found a purely vegetarian variety. Does such a thing exist? Leah? Leah?).

But yes, I was a little ashamed when I realised how dense my 'fork forest' had grown - it was damning evidence of how indolent my bachelor lifestyle has become, how rarely I can be bothered to cook myself a proper meal any more.

Perhaps my New Year's Resolution will be to try to initiate monthly dinner parties at my place. This has been a dream of mine ever since I moved in here, but the obstacles have been so many - acquiring decent cutlery, crockery, a tablecloth, enough chairs. I'm still working on the logistics three years on.... Maybe this year, maybe.....


argonox said...

Oh, completely vegetarian cup noodles DO indeed exist, thank goodness! You can find them in well-stocked convenience stores and supermarkets, though I've never seen them on a train or plane. My current favorite kind is the Guangyou brand sweet potato vermicelli, hot and sour flavor, which comes in a hot pink container. I usually add tofu and greens to make it a little more substantial, but I do quite like the flavor. Plus, it's a such wonderful lazy food, isn't it? I don't know what I would do without them.

Froog said...

Thanks for the tip, Leah. I thought you'd know your way around these products!

I, of course, am only a vicarious vegetarian. But I'm eager to add some more variety to my diet, so I was curious as to whether the vegetarian ones were any good. I'm afraid the ones I eat taste so darned yummy mainly because they use such a lot of animal fat in the flavouring sachets.

Watch out for the pink ones, huh? I'd always assumed that was prawn - or seafood of some sort. To which I'm allergic.

I think I've noticed some with a picture of mushrooms on the top of the box, but, without being able to read the Chinese, I wasn't confident it would be a genuine vegetarian variety. Mushroom dishes here almost always seem to be 'enhanced' with an added porkiness.

I shall have to peruse the shelves more closely next time I'm in my local supermarket.