Do You Dare?

Tempt Montezuma? Or the belly of Delhi? When I tried 100 restaurants in Dhaka, Bangladesh, people would ask me how I avoided getting “Delhi belly” or “Montezuma’s revenge” — I have some basic policies. First, I follow my gut (ha! Had to be said!). If it smells like death on a plate, then I don’t eat it (gym socks, sure. Death, no.). I drank lots of water. And to that end… Frank, it it wants OUT… I let it out…

ojFaE_rDb005jRFaDDEZGL18yZuB_9dNWbn1WFcKZW6wOVHWAH7rF5qthwF_ghqFjeffKe8x0YszSuZaPd7FIzwNM_rbDJJu2m-aulUBTGtnQa04Am8JT_44aPQqwFst_27d9pDZU3zd7Is6FmxGZIhjfx28N85MJF32abjHeS_dJrsf8tRd1uJKGBack to the food cart here in my barrio… I am not willing to try every street food cart in the world, but, when I see a crowd lined up waiting, I have to go over and see what they are eating. As you can see, this vendor doesn’t even need to move the cart out to the street. It just stays in her driveway.

wQuKgbVQtFYauDvDyTY0s3OlWVU7EHSijKc5Xa36ESHJqJi2kKLsj9MOWdpddH3ZZfpmcRKYwD2SBkOTJnaucs1DkKFYYc-Z6b81wQ0r8DEK_RAE0QADeZvDWrdDIAgpRN7Z70PBrKVyUzgv_F3K45e0Le5AwMED66di7xKpZ5_E_eAJXtZ11bNyGThe other evening, I saw a crowd, again. So I went over to take photos. As you can see, they sell hotdogs, wings, breast, and mussels? Now, I just need to find someone who’s willing to try it…

Instant Noodle on the Street

This stir fried noodle stand was in Kuala Lumpur
This stir fried noodle stand was in Kuala Lumpur

One of the foods found almost everywhere is the instant ramen noodle. Except in India and Bangladesh. But that may be changing. I recently saw a commercial for Maggi brand noodles with the patriarch of Bollywood eating instant noodles. Ramen is a soup in Japan and Korea. To sell these in India, the instant noodle dish in the commercial was less soupy. Using the noodles for a stir fry is how the noodles are used in Malaysia (that magician at the night market made the best I’ve had) or Cambodia, and so on. Since the culture in South Asia is to eat with the hand, I would have thought that advertisers would push something handheld, but maybe that’s the next part of the ad campaign (this is not an advertisement for any brand). In the U.S., instant noodle is sold in cups making it easily handheld and easily eaten with a fork. Many other ways to eat the ramen noodle and 27 of those ways are here. One way not mentioned here is wrapped around prawns and deep fried like at Goong.

Why are instant noodles so good even if they are not good for us? It’s “umami” which is the Japanese word for that something special that makes food so delicious.

Umami making in Cambodia.
Umami making in Cambodia.