Explaining the Noodle

I changed my Twitter homepage set up. Because I could. I’m not crazy about the design, and frankly, I’m never on the Twitter website itself because YOU DON’T NEED TO BE but I changed the image because I wanted to express myself, I guess, without getting too Madonna about it. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Madge, – well, maybe now there is, she’s getting creepy isn’t she? – I’ve never been a huge fan and for proof I offer this: my favorite Madonna “song” is a version of Get Into the Groove called Into the Groove(y) by Ciccone Youth – which was Sonic Youth with Mike Watt.)

Where was I?

Oh yes. Once Twitter offered me a chance to embrace their new layout, I added the photo of ramen noodles in a bowl. The photo is one of my favorite photos of food. I  know: the internet is overstuffed with photos of food. Everyone is taking photos of their breakfast/lunch/dinner and sharing on the internet. Yes. I’m guilty of that as well though I don’t do it as often. Sometimes, when I’m hungry, I don’t go to my Instagram feed because, well, I’m hungry and I don’t like torturing myself and I definitely do not subscribe to Kate Moss’s idiotic “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” philosophy.

I like food. I like to eat it and I like to cook it. That bowl of noodles is thus special. One, the bowl. My wife made it. She makes ceramics and the cups and bowls and plates she produces are fucking sexy. When she sets up her website finally, I’ll link to it here. Seriously, her work is quite awesome.

Two, the noodles. Yes, those are ramen noodles. They are covered in David Chang’s ginger scallion sauce, toasted nori, pickled bean sprouts, and hoisin sauce. I’m telling you, this is as tasty a snack as you can hope for. It is one of the most satisfying things you can put together in a few minutes. I always have a bottle of the ginger scallion sauce in my fridge. If I’m about to run out, I make more. Except now I make Francis Lam’s version of the ginger scallion sauce because it’s even better. And I always keep a better quality of ramen noodle in the house. But, really, just buy those cheap packets and keep the sodium bomb flavour packs for something else (like mix it with sour cream and let it sit for an hour and you have created a completely unhealthy and therefore criminally delicious dip for chips).

Three, the photo kind of encapsulates a personal vision of food that sums me up too: simple, well presented, not 100% what-the-doctor-ordered.

And it speaks to a love of food. A love that started with my mother’s meals (her eggs and rice – dim bhaat in Bengali nothing more than hard boiled eggs, ghee, and rice), her curries, and even her meatloaf (which only now do I realize was totally on the dry side) and then exploded during an excessively stoned meal (no, the meal wasn’t stoned, but man we were and how) at a defunct Montreal eatery called Lao Thai with my friend Matt, a meal that still stands as one of the most memorable of my life (not just because of the meal itself but for what that meal represented: quite simply the start of a love affair with food in all its forms, as a shared experience, as something cultural more than anything else, even as art), right up to the joy I feel in the kitchen now, cooking simple meals (and sometimes not so simple meals when I’m feeling both ambitious and amazingly stupid), to the silly pride I feel in the fact that my son will eat squid but not tomatoes (unless they are in sauce or condiment form).

The meal at Lao Thai was over 20 years ago. And just about 20 minutes ago, Matt called me in a panic. “Arjun, Sana Tandoori Palace closed!” he wailed. “What am I going to do?” Matt was way beyond frantic. “Where am I going to get my Special Thali? Where?” I had to settle him down. Talk him out of his panic. Of his combined sense of bereavement and apoplexy. Of course, all the while, I was wondering where I was going to now find the amazing chicken kebab rolls the place made. “You weren’t going there often enough,” I told him. “I know,” he replied seriously. “I’ve only been going twice a week.”

We were foodies before there was a word for it. And that word has been so overused that it is now an epithet. But, really, before it was hijacked and food became trendy (which, honestly, is just dumb) being a foodie meant you liked food. All of it. The concept was simple.

Food is the most obvious thing that makes us human. Yes, yes, other animals eat. I know that (well, except Kate Moss apparently), but no other animal makes such an elaborate ritual out of it. If you look at the commonalities across species: eating, sleeping, shitting, it is with food that we are most different. And sex. We can get pretty elaborate about that as well.

So. That’s why there’s a photo of a bowl of noodles on my Twitter page. Not that you asked.

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