And then he was gone in an instant….

Students the world over should be in mourning after the death of Momofuko Ando.

Actually, add to that supermarkets, weight watchers and anybody who’s ever though:”I’ll just have a Tesco ready-made Chow Mein instead.”

The instant noodle could be regarded as the first step in the evolution of cooking among teenagers. Left to fend for themselves, they discover in you can boil a kettle you can make yourself dinner. Not a particularly satisfying dinner, but dinner all the same.

After that, it’s but a small leap of logic to work out that it’s not much of an effort to apply the same principle to pasta, and then the teenager thinks: “What if I add some tomato sauce?”

And lo, the sons and daughters of Little Chef customers branched out into the exotic!

Of course, as with any good foreign invention we bastardised the instant noodle and turned it into Pot Noodle, a snack in the loosest sense of the word that, until recently, was inexplicably popular.

But no longer. Pot Noodle has fallen victim to the twin attacks of the health conscious (1) and the absorbing of foreign culture (2) (3). Salt is bad for you (4), which means Jamie Oliver will soon be over to berate you for killing your children with junk (5) and the Daily Mail will shout at you for being irresponsible and the Guardian will tut at you sagely, with a sad shake of the head, and Channel 4 will make a reality show with you called Salt Shaker or Life Breaker? and everybody will agree amidst all of this kerfuffle that what we have here is A Bad Situation about which Something Must Be Done.

And then there’s the foreign aspect. Beef and tomato are no longer good enough for us. Now we have Spicy Thai Duck (with 2 per cent fat, naturally (6) ) and Chinese Chicken with a hint of lemon in an effort to relate back to the market that spawned it (7) all of which is as daft and pretentious as calling a toasted cheese sandwich a cheese melt.

Not that food lovers will mourn Pot Noodle should it go the same way as Smiths Salt ‘n’ Shake and Little Chef, and nor should they given that there was little difference between the snack and sawdust with water. But as Mr. Ando passes so his illegitimate offspring also falls on hard times, a common occurrence around any Royal court.

(1) And possibly the Daily Mail.

(2) Although possibly not quite what the Mail and Express may have had in mind when they oh-so-calmly inform us about those rather nasty immigrant chappies who take our jobs and steal our women. But I’m sure they’ll get round it one day.

(3) And in an effort to fight the latter threat, aligns itself firmly with another dying British glory – mining. There’s a certain irony in that many of those cast out of work by Thatcher probably ended up living off Pot Noodles for a while.

(4) Something even the makers of Demolition Man realised as far back as 1992.

(5) Notwithstanding that any child who is regularly being fed Pot Noodles by their mother should regard healthy eating as the least of their worries.

(6) I genuinely love the person who wrote this. From her earnest tone and attention to detail you could almost mistake a recommendation about noodles for an experiment into the effectiveness of Herceptin.

(7) A market that, if it had gone the same way as Ando, would turn in its grave. However, as Ando was more than alive when Pot Noodles burst onto our collective conciousnesses, he probably just shrugged, said, “What can you do?” and got on with his life. As any sane man would.


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January 2007
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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com

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