Today, as I was walking home from work, I made a quick stop at the local supermarket for a few items that I was in need of and was distracted as I passed the noodle aisle. Usually, I have no problem bypassing these products but I haven’t had ramen for quite some time so I veered left and found myself standing in front of about 30 different variations of this popular (and cost efficient) dish. Not eating red meat, seafood or pork can really limit my options in Korea but today I was in luck!
I FOUND VEGETARIAN RAMEN!!
I usually gage my decision of whether I can eat something by the photos but luckily, this had a “no meat” label! This has never happened to me before and I got so excited that I bought a set of 4 and thought it would make for a good blog entry. Now if you’ve never heard the term “ramen” before, you might know it as “instant noodles” or (like when I was a kid) “Mr. Noodles”.
Ramen originated in China (as many things tend to be) and was later introduced to Japan. The Chinese term is “lamian” which simply means “hand-pulled noodles”. These noodles are then prepared in soup and sauces. After WWII, soldiers returning to Japan from other parts of Asia brought with them the tastes of China and opened up restaurants around Japan supplying natives with this tasty and starchy treat. It wasn’t until the 1950s that a Taiwanese-Japanese business owner created the idea of “instant ramen” where you just add water. Now there are countless brands, flavors and forms of ramen around the world. (thanks wikipedia for your non-stop supply of knowledge)
Even though I don’t eat it everyday, it certainly has had an impact on my life. I remember being a child and begging my mom for “Mr. Noodles” for dinner instead of potatoes and chicken because I thought it was more exciting to eat. It even helped me out in times of need during university when I couldn’t afford Kraft Dinner (instant noodles were about 47 cents a package and KD was about 1.30 a box). And now, as a teacher in Korea, I’m always left to pick up random “ramen seasoning packets” left by my students around the school. Now that I’ve found “no meat” ramen, I too can enjoy it once again! Whoot!