Let me tell you something. I’d you to know that me and my friends could have written and published a book with a title that sounded like –
“101 Ways To Cook Instant Noodles”
And we could have made a killing, catering to most college students and ‘syanos who rent roach infested, stale smelling, gin blossom patterned, cramped rooms around the University Belt – Morayta, Dos Castillas, Carola, Bustillos and that most loved hole-in-the-wall dwelling we had in Lincallo, a small alley along Legarda, in Tanduay.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
You see, nowadays whenever I resort to instant foods, a couple packs of instant noodle does the trick, but not without added trickery, too. Oh, there has to be some veggies to add to the monosodium glutamate that comes with the 60gm pack, along with the requisite egg to make it “special”. A chicken flavored noodle goes well with Pak Choi (Petsay for the uninitiated) or Malunggay. Beef noodles are just begging to be boiled with Cabbage. With Pancit canton, you can use any of the three, plus some Squid Balls to add fun. And if there are no more veggies to add, because your budget just doesn’t allow for extra (it could be that your salary went south about a week ago) or there was no time to drop by your local market or talipapa, chopped onions or garlic will certainly make your eating-solo worth the time to prep for. You should try sprinkling those beautiful, finely chopped raw garlic on freshly cooked pancit canton and you can never go wrong.
But during college, and I was going to Far Eastern University at the time, a group of seven hungry promdis scrimping and saving for everyday expenses, the usual solution was pool small amounts of money, specially near weekends when allowances just can’t seem to get through the week, and try to make a feast of the measly budget – barbecued chicken neck + head, lavishly dipped in vinegar and soy sauce concoctions, or two cans of Red Ligo Sardines, sauteed in garlic, onions, extended with water and egg, because the sauce is thick enough. Now how could you feed 7 hungry college students with just 3 packs of chicken noodles? Easy. Okra, kangkong or saluyot might just add variety and flavor to your gastronomic adventure.
We used to put a single tinapang Galunggong, deboned, shredded, along with garlic and onions so that leftover rice can be enjoyed without the usual Ulam, black, powdered pepper enforcing the taste. I still do this every now and then.
Speaking of leftovers, don’t throw away those unfinished potato or corn chips. Grind them, and throw them into a couple of beaten eggs add some chili sauce. That’s why I never throw away those unopened chili pizza sauce packs away. You never know.
Why am I rambling about food?
Actually it was not about food. It was about the way the word “Instant” deluded everything. Instant messaging, fast food, fast ethernet, fast internet, everything ready and close at hand. No effort needed, just accept them.
Plug and play.
Some neighbors here, now where I currently reside, find it remarkable that I garnish instant noodles with patola or ask “Pwede ba yun?” [Is that allowed?] when I mix scrambled eggs with Daing or leftover Laing. I’m really puzzled that people as old as me never thought to be adventurous with prepackaged food. Or prepaid services. They accept anything and everything like it’s non-negotiable, deviate and you die kind of thinking.
I mean have you seen the number of students enrolled in the Culinary Arts? Maybe their parents think the title chef is just a diploma, or watched too many celebrity cooking shows on tv that they take the name Chef as just another title. A Chef used to be a seasoned kitchen gnome, deft with a cleaver, quick with the paprika and grease, a weathered dishwasher turned cook, able to fry fillets in seconds and dish out platters and casseroles, pinching seasonings, smelling for consistencies and nervous whether the diners will plow through each dish or goes away with their plates half eaten.
They think school is better than the actual kitchen at home.
Nowadays, people just accept Facebook repost as facts, Twitter feed as News and Blogs as vox populi. Fewer and fewer people ask questions, and just click the like button. Every generation gets lazy, all push button and instants.
Nobody reads the contents anymore, they just put the water on and let it boil so they can drop the noodles and actually expect to be finished cooking after three minutes.
Instant Noodle Mentality.
We are going to be extinct sooner than you think.