Friday, October 21, 2005

Bad Food is Universal

Anthropologists disagree vehemently about the extent of human cultural universals, but for the cynics in the crowd two items are head and shoulders above the rest: utter stupidity and really bad food.

Another Column One example of Pulitzer-level reportage today from the LA Times strikes yet another blow to globalization of food trends. Target, this time - Mexico - and the food, Japanese instant noodles:

That's a brand of instant ramen noodles that to him means lunch. Leon's grandmother stocks them in her tiny grocery store in this hamlet 40 miles southwest of the capital. The preschooler prefers his shrimp-flavor ramen with a dollop of liquid heat.

"With salsa!" he said exuberantly at the mention of his favorite noodle soup.

Through the centuries, Moorish spices, French pastries and Spanish citrus have left lasting impressions on Mexico's cuisine. Now Japanese fast-food noodles, first imported here in the 1980s, are filling pantries across the country.

Time-pressed school kids, construction workers and office drones have helped turn Mexicans into Latin America's largest per-capita consumers of instant ramen. Diners here slurped down 1 billion servings last year, up threefold since 1999, according to a Japanese noodle association.

My worst food experiences in Mexico were tacos made with roasted grasshoppers and dried, salted tripe wrapped in a tortilla, but hey - those were at least authentic.

I hope the Times continues to give front-page coverage to food articles banned from the haute cuisine afficionados in the Food Sections on Wednesdays. A week ago, the World section also reported on the popularity of Spam gift baskets in Korea (Oct. 15 - go check it out if you can get past the registration barricade).

1 comment:

abivingston said...

I used to eat sopa nissin all the time when I was in Chiapas, Mexico for my masters fieldwork. The great thing about the ramen is they need zero preparation and almost taste like something you could get back home. Plus they taste super good with lime and, yes, salsa picante.