Thursday, March 26, 2009

When the diet went to pot

Regular readers of this column (and there are some, or so we’re led to believe) may still be recovering from the trauma induced last January when we went into a little bit too much detail about Spam fritters, and the role they once played in the courting rituals of your humble columnist when he was a younger, although possibly a wiser, man.
For anyone who missed it or would like a second bite, as it were, just Google Dixon fritters. That’s the power of Search Engine Optimisation, and there’s money to be made from it if you know what you’re doing. Although none of it seems to be coming into the Dixon family coffers.
What’s frightening, though, is that Dixon Senior’s predilection for what might be called paradoxical cuisine – foodstuffs which are at the same time both savoury and unsavoury – has been passed down to Dixon Junior.
He, at the tender age of 13, went out with his Scout troop last Friday and spent the night, in temperatures which dropped to -4°C, in a field just outside Bath with nothing to protect him from the elements but an orange plastic survival sack, a thick sleeping bag and several layers of thermals. It was all in aid of Julian House, and very commendable too.
But what was his chosen food to sustain him through this ordeal? A Pot Noodle. Chicken and mushroom flavour, if you please.
His request shocked his parents to the core. Had he become a university student five years too early? Because Pot Noodles are, if nothing else, the ultimate student fare. Had all our hard work during his formative years promoting a healthy diet of carrot sticks and wholemeal bread come to naught?
To be quite honest, it didn’t really matter, because anyone who is prepared to sacrifice a comfortable night in a warm bed for a freezing one in a muddy field deserves whatever they want when it comes to an evening meal that’s going to keep them warm inside until breakfast.
But this week there’s been some sort of synchronous serendipity going on. (Or possibly serendipitous synchronicity. Only time will tell. And possibly a large dictionary too.)
Because a couple of days after the Scouts’ survival sleep-out, noodle extruders Unilever announced the launch of a new flavour to complement traditional chick and mush or beef and tom, and more adventurous curry and chow mein: the Doner Kebab.
Gastronomic multiculturalism, thy name is Pot Noodle. Only the chicken tikka masala pizza can come close to thee in the New World Order of food combinations that one wouldn’t necessarily describe as “natural”.
(Yes, such pizzas do exist. We saw them on sale once in Portsmouth. What better introduction to British cuisine for all those continentals fresh off the ferry? And what better welcome home for us Brits?)
The real problem with Pot Noodles, though, isn’t that the name of the flavouring on the outside of the pot bears only a tenuous relationship to the toothsome chunks of soya protein that lurk within.
And it isn’t that no matter how much you stir your noodles, and no matter how long you leave the hot water to infuse, you always end up with a dry and inedible mess of broken noodles and intensely salty grit at the bottom of the pot.
No, the real problem with Pot Noodles is that once you’ve begun to write about them – or even begun to read about them – the temptation to eat one gets stronger and stronger.
Because when all’s said and done, you can take the noodle out of the man – but you can’t take the man out of the noodle.

No comments:

Post a Comment