18 November 2013


There was this girl in my high school, whose hair looked like a mop of instant noodles. It was so thick and curly that I often wanted her to dye her hair blond just so it'd look more like instant noodles. I do not remember her name or her face, to be honest; I just remember that she existed and had hair that looked edible enough from a distance. Burnt edible, since we're all brunettes here.

Noodles of any kind, texture and cuisine is definitely a weakness of mine. Whenever its lunch-time in school and I see a girl with noodles in her lunch-box, I crave it so much that I cannot focus on my own lunch which is a dry-dry-whoo-whoo combination of bread and biscuits. Not that I am complaining about my lunch or anything, I quite enjoy the bread and olive oil mayonnaise and some biscuits, preferably, Oreos or Jim-Jams. What I do not enjoy is cheese. Sure, I can eat cheese when its on pizzas and pasta sauces, but, alone, no. I don't even like cheese sandwiches. Where am I going with cheese on a noodle post? I'll tell you, wait. It's another gem from my high school. I had this friend, who brought good lunch to school on a regular basis. People would form a circle around her, waiting patiently for their turn to get a bite of her tiffin. They'd even gasp and coo when she opened her lunch-box, for added drama. I'd drop in occasionally, to get a good look and see if I wanted it in my tummy. This one time she didn't have much of her fans around her and I went to get a look. She had brought instant noodles. It was Maggi, basically, as it is known locally, the instant noodle variant manufactured by Nestle. Upon further inspection, I found that she has two enourmous cheese slices on it, melting over the noodles and oozing all its silky and milky wonderfulness. Back then, I quite enjoyed cheese and it was definitely my favourite dairy product. So, when I shoved a mouthful in my mouth, I was lost – cheese and noodles. Who would have ever thought of it? I know people who try to replicate dishes all the time. I personally do not do that. It's fueled by the fact that I don't quite enjoy cooking. Then again, I just don't have the time for it and my mother always chases me out of the kitchen because I tend to be very messy. Anyway, I have never tried to recreate my old classmate's lunch, because, I've always had this feeling that it would never be as good.

I like instant noodles. I really do. But everyone says its unhealthy. Of course it is. Then again, its so versatile. It's almost like a nude lipgloss; it just goes with everything. You can add anything to it and it'll still taste good. I had a friend who added beet to it. It looked pink and inedible, but, it was still, strangely tasty. It's also backed by its price and the quantity you get for it. In other words, it's the holy grail of snacks for students. It's just up to you and how you prepare it – with fatty wonders or healthy vegetables.

But this post isn't about instant noodles. Even if it is a type of noodle (yes, right?), I do not get weakened by it at all. I can ignore it, alright, and I successfully have, plenty of times. My real weakness is noodles with an oriental touch. Serve me that and I'm your best friend. There's this cafe called the 'Brown Bean Cafe' where I live. I go to eat there with my sister. One of the waiters there has served us for so long that he instantly writes down 'Pan Fried Noodles' before we order anything else. I love the boiled noodles which are later pan fried with a ton of vegetables and shredded chicken; which is served after pouring some thickened chicken broth onto it. Such a delight, that dish.

However, things aren't always bright and beautiful when it comes to noodles. I was out to grab lunch with a couple of friends in October, during the festive season, and we went to eat at this place called 'Hot Pot'. While we enjoyed the momos (dim-sums to those who aren't familiar with the local name) and the pan fried noodles, we decided that we wanted variety and that we wanted to order Thai cuisine.
“Thai noodles?” Shree was apprehensive.
“Let's try it,” Gigi said.
“Sure,” I shrugged.
And we did try it – a spoonful each. Because we were completely put off after a lousy spoonful. There was so much of fish sauce in it that there was only fish sauce, fish sauce, fish sauce and the noodles were nowhere to be found.
“I am never eating Thai food ever again!” Shree announced in the middle of the road, while we were sprinting off to a bakery nearby to cleanse our tongues with some much needed desserts.
“Never again,” I agreed.
“Never, ever, again,” Gigi nodded.

If you've read 'Diaries of a Pujamaniac', you may know my friend, Ira. She is a culinary wizard. While I slack off on everything possible, she actually enrolls in different classes and learns new things. She recently enrolled in a cooking class specializing in oriental cuisine. I remember this one time, when I was left feeling, well, blissful, all thanks to her cooking. She had reheated some noodles from the night before, which she had cooked, and we were sitting on the floor, listening to Kings of Leon records and talking about life. Most of my 'blissful' memories are with this particular girl. She just makes me happy. There's always a few people who you feel safe and comfortable with. For me, she is one. It's just an added bonus that her 'Hakka' noodles are insanely delicious. I asked her what the secret ingredient was for her and she replied that it was lots of love and hard work.
“That's two,” I said.
“Which is why it's more delicous the next day,” she said, smiling at a blank space. I occasionally also think she's completely mental. Then again, maybe that's why we get along so well. I've known her for more than a decade and we've been together for quite some time. What's the secret ingredient for that? Well, the same - lots of love and hard work.
(Little known fact: In India and other regions with significant Indian populations, the locally known "Hakka cuisine" is actually an Indian adaptation of original Hakka dishes. This variation of Hakka cuisine is in reality, mostly Indian Chinese cuisine. It is called "Hakka cuisine" because in India many owners of restaurants that serve this cuisine are of Hakka origin. Typical dishes include 'chilli chicken'. Being very popular in these areas, this style of cuisine is often mistakenly credited of being representative of Hakka cuisine in general, whereas the authentic style of Hakka cuisine is rarely known in these regions.)

Where I live, everybody loves noodles. Noodles is derived from the German word, 'Nudel'. In 2002, archaeologists found an earthenware bowl containing the world's oldest known noodles, measured to roughly 4000 years BP through radiocarbon dating, at the Lajia archaeological site along the Yellow River in China. The noodles were found well-preserved. They were described as resembling the traditional lamian noodle of China, which is made by "repeatedly pulling and stretching the dough by hand." The composition of the oldest noodles was studied by a team of Chinese researchers, who determined the noodles were made from foxtail millet and broomcorn millet. The earliest written record of noodles is found in a book dated to the Eastern Han period (25–220) of China. In Tang Dynasty, the noodles were first cut into strips, and in Yuan Dynasty, the making of dried noodles began. It is also noted that the Chinese presented Marco Polo with noodles during his exploration.

My best friend in school, Nam, often brought noodles in her lunch-box. Her cook would add in vegetables to it, under her grandmother's orders. One of the vegetables included was beet. I can proudly say that I have eaten pink noodles. And it's not like they tasted good or anything, in fact, they were nowhere near tasting good. They were disgustingly inedible. One of my other dear friends, Sud (such  half-hearted attempts to conceal the name) used to pronounce noodles, known locally as chow/chowmein/chow-chow in a very different way. She used to say 'chowmeeeeeeen'. I laughed at it back then, but, I can't help but find it endearing now. Sad how times fly. 

In my current school, it's quite the opposite. My friend, Tej (another half-hearted attempt) occasionally brings noodles for lunch. Her mother makes the most aromatic, most delicious noodles that sometimes turn out to be so oily that we actually have oil spillage on our desk. Nobody ever complains, though. The taste is such. Another one of my friends, Kom, brings the coolest type of noodles ever - rice noodles. They're usually cooked with a lot of vegetables with a handful of peanuts thrown in for good measure. Or for some protein. Or just to make it look more lively. Whichever is a priority. 

Noodle soup is an all time favourite of mine. Whenever I am out dining, or just grabbing lunch or something with friends, I tend to steer towards noodle soups. Noodles in broth. Noodles in gravy. Whatever you call them. They just make me happy. There was this little Chinese joint near where I lived called "Wan Li's". They had the best noodles in town. To be honest, they had the best Chinese in town. However, they shut down recently. I was kind of sad for longer than a normal person would have been. They had this amazing noodle soup where they put in some dimsums and it was just so delicious. There are several restaurants serving Chinese food, true, but nothing quite matches up to the might and glory of a feast at 'Wan Li'. 

Give me an omlette and I'll shrivel up and die right there. That's being too dramatic, but, usually that's what my tummy feels like at the sight of an omlette. I am not a fan of any kind of eggs, especially cooked as omlettes. Poached eggs, boiled eggs, I can eat after much frowning but I will not, ever, eat an omlette, no matter what you put in it. I won't eat it even if you put Prada shoes inside it. My mother came up with this brilliant plan, years ago, where she mixed noodles with eggs. She, then, added vegetables to it and fried it all together, thus, giving rise to a 'chowlette'. She knew very well that my love for the long, thin strips of heavenly goodness easily overpowered my hatred for eggs. She, then, smartly began to introduce the egg protein in my life, and it did enter, much to my dismay. I still don't like omlettes, though. They make me feel weird.

I love noodles so much that it's almost embarrassing. And to embarrass myself further, I had to muster up the courage to post something about it here. But, then again, why not? I am sure everyone has a food related weakness. Something that you crave. Something that you wouldn't mind eating for days on end. Something that just makes you happy when you think about it. For me, it's chowmein/chow-chow/noodles/chow. Hopefully, this got you either craving noodles or thinking about your food weakness. Let me know which one happened.

Anyway, I know took a long time to come around to writing and posting this. Maybe it's not what you expected, but, I just wanted to get a few things off my chest, which is something I do with the 'Diaries of...' posts. I love makeup and beauty and I know all about fashion, sure, but there are certain other things I like too. Thanks for bearing it all with me! I'll get to my usual posts soon (occasionally peppered with these kinds of useless posts). I was also thinking of posting a November Picture Challenge at the end of the month, instead of the usual monthly favourites. I am working on it daily just so I can be true to the challenge and then post it.

Until next time,
take care.