Monday, December 12, 2011

Noodles for the Winter

In the days of long ago, in uncharted regions of the universe, lived a legend...the legend of Noodletron, Defender of the Hungryverse! (cue Voltron theme)

"Finishing move: LASER NOODLES!"

Hur hur hur. Speaking of lulz, my girl Shanana once laughed at me when I declared, "I need noodles for the winter!" I was mildly puzzled at her amusement, because I was being serious. In Japan, noodle stands dot the streets and a giant bowl costs ¥500 ($5). The first time I tried it I noted that the bowl was bigger than my head, so I thought I couldn't finish my ramen, but I ended up slurping all the noodles down like Jabba the Hutt consuming something small and squeaky with a tail. They were delicious, filling, and the best thing to eat during Japan's relatively mild winter. Thus, the concept of Noodles for the Winter was born.

Porter Square Exchange has a few noodle stands, and I attest their authenticity because the stalls are run by actual Japanese people. There's also a tiny shop in the Back Bay, between Newbury and Boylston Streets, where the cooks and servers speak in a dialect I don't recognize and their drinks come in styrofoam cups, which is B-A-D, but they also have takoyaki, also known as Samurai Balls in the Philippines, because ha ha ha, I'm eating samurai balls, yummy!

My cupboards used to be stocked with udon and instant ramen, but alas, all supplies must be depleted at some point. So this weekend I went to Reliable Market, the grocery of choice for South Korean moms! Like all Korean groceries, Reliable Market also offers a large selection of Japanese essentials, like various soup bases, frozen korokke (now I need a deep fryer), sushi-grade fresh fish, etc. The freakishly mild season had passed in Boston, and the winter temperatures were coming. My goal was to buy my winter survival noodles.

The dry goods kit: instant miso soup (seaweed flavor),
instant ramen, and dried mushrooms.

Mindful of Boyfriend's warning that instant ramen is "a sodium heart attack," I checked the package labels for the first time in my eventful life of eating the stuff. HOLY COW! One pack gives me 67% of my daily recommended dose of sodium!!! That's like 1500 mg!!! 

...So I bought a five-pack. Why? Because my body needs sodium to help me contract my muscles, transmit signals to my nerves, maintain my pH balance, hydrate, regulate fluids outside my cells, and pump fluid into my cells when potassium (hello, bananas!) carries by-products out. Most importantly, sodium makes noodles delicious, and noodles are good for the soul. 

The perishables kit: silky tofu, seaweed salad, natto, and fried tofu.
Optional: cold green tea and makoli (Korean rice wine) -- pictured
at the opposite ends of this photograph.
Like the ninjas before me, I am now prepared to endure the freezing cold winds of the New England winter. I adhere to the ninja code of honor in battle: if forced to fight, run away disappear into the night. I shall bow to Mama Nature's superiority and hibernate in my cave this winter. With my noodles.