An innocent mistake.

Step 0: Get the urge for a spicy snack.
Step 1: Recall a snack you had once which was basically a ramen brick with a flavour packet, but with instructions to break up the brick inside the packet, add the powder, then toss to coat the crunchy ramen bits in flavour.
Step 2: Locate packet of Shin Ramyun "Gourmet Spicy" ramen.
Step 3: Break up the ramen, dump that whole friggin' packet in there, and shake like mad.
Step 4: Start to eat this tasty, spicy snack.
Step 5: After a few pieces, realise with horror that the powder is a lot spicier when it's not made into ramen broth.
Step 7: After much time and CFDDP, regain breath, sanity, and feeling in tongue.
Step 8: . . . continue snacking.

Makes perfect sense, yeah?

Anyhow, there'll be a delay until Batch Two gets underway. I have several great friends visiting from out of town (I just recovered from the last group!) and then it'll be back to the instant noodle for me. Meanwhile, have some preview pics.


Enchilosa "Sabor a Limón"

Brand: Enchilosa
Flavour: Sabor a Limón
Format: foam cup
Packets: zero
Identifiables: noodle frustum, spice, veggie bits
Sodium: 1.70 grams

"Sabor a Limón" is translated helpfully on the package as "Lime Flavor". Yes, that's exactly what the world needed... lime-flavoured ramen. Enchilosa is apparently an ersatz-Mexican brand of "cup ramen". In fact, I tried one of their other flavours – "Con Camaron" – as an early test run of my rating system and review format before I started this blog, but I figured that the weird one should be the Enchilosa review that I actually publish, and most fittingly as the last review of Batch One. I'll combine both reviews into one. For that first cup, I said:

"Hey, Keet?" I hear you ask. "How can you tell when your cup of ramen is an off-brand?"

"There are many ways, but one comes to mind," I answer. "When you move to pull the paper top back halfway to put the water in, part of the foam cup breaks off with it."

Upon poking around the company's website (Union Foods) I find that there's a reason the cup came apart. It's environmentally conscious. After all, noodles that spill to the ground are absorbed back into the ecosystem more readily than when mixed with the mass of preservatives that my body is built out of by now. Actially, I exaggerate; the noodles did not spill, and in fact cooked up just fine, a standard pull-lid-back-halfway fill. Still, I'm docking points for a cup that could well have fed the very earth upon which we walk rather than Yours Truly.

This particular cup did not break apart, but I had such difficulty getting the cellophane off of it that it nearly did. I stared at the IKEA chopsticks in my hand and considered. Would I ever see a Mexican eating ramen with lime-green plastic chopsticks? Of course not! I swapped out for the white ones. Boiling water went into the cup, up to the water-ridge, and I waited for three long minutes. Instant noodles based on a fruit flavour? Madness, I would think. The very notion frightened yet titillated me.

Upon comsumption, my mind kept trying to cross-reference the flavour with that of Trix breakfast cereal, and that is the wrong response. The tanginess of the lime really did prove a slightly interesting variation on what would otherwise be a fairly bland, mildly-spicy noodle. The bits of sweet corn to soak up the bulk of the flavour, and the faux-chicken (textured soy protein – I'm tempted to nickname it "Inexplicameat") seemed pointless and even a bit distasteful.

The overall impression I get is that there is a niche market here consisting of fruit-loving Mexican noodle-eaters, and that that niche is still not filled in a brilliant way with this brand but they are perhaps mollified. It's a pity that it's on the weak side of average; I wanted to like it more.

That concludes Batch One of the Cheaper than Food: the Ramen Break reviews. Paradoxically, this doesn't mean that things will slow down. In fact, now that I have a wide selection for Batch Two: Revenge of the Noodle, things will speed up considerably once I get a photo of this upcoming batch. Stay tuned, ramen fans!

Also, I hope we all learned something new today. The name for a cone that's truncated on a plane parallel to its base is a frustum.

Numbers: packaging 2, preparation 4, heat 2, flavour 2, overall 2

Music: Michael Jackson - HIStory - Stranger in Moscow


Lucky Me! Supreme "La Paz Batchoy"

Brand: Lucky Me! Supreme
Flavour: La Paz Batchoy
Format: cardboard bowl
Packets: four
Identifiables: noodle disc, flavour powder, odd bits, crushed garlic, crackers
Sodium: 1.61 grams

Apologies for the delay, friends... I've been fearing this one for some time. It's almost the end of Batch One, but I knew that before I reached the end of my ordeal I'd have to face yet another bowl of Filipino delight from "Lucky Me!". Can any of you claim to be so brave?

The first thing I did was search all over the package for preparation directions. I couldn't find any. The closest I found was a bold line about two centimetres from the top of the bowl with the text, "Fill with boiling water up to line." I guessed that there would be a sheet with directions inside, as I'd previously encountered, but that guess was wrong. I had that sinking feeling and I hadn't even looked at the packets yet!

This bowl had four-and-a-half packets. What I mean by that is, one packet held crackers, a second only revealed its beef-scented powdery contents when opened, a third held some sort of unidentifiable peppercorn-looking dried things, and a fourth was the dreaded twin-packet; one half contained what looked to be faux bacon bits, while the other held crushed garlic in oil. The powder was easily opened, but the other packets were either pinked the wrong way or not at all so I had to use a scissors on them. I executed Operation: Guesswork, which involved putting everything save the crackers into the bowl and dousing it in boiling water. Then I saw that there was no internal line to pour to; I had to guess at that, also. So far, the only thing I knew for certain about the ramen I was about to eat was that the packaging was far more colourful than any of the ingredients.

I snalled a photo after three minutes (more guesswork). As a note, that cracker with the bite-shaped corner taken out? I didn't do that. I don't know where that corner went, because it wasn't in the package at all. By now, the terror inside had settled into a state of emotional shock; somebody else may have taken a bite out of my crackers before they were sealed, and I was about to eat a second bowl of instant noodles from the same brand that recieved my first-ever overall score of one. But really, it wasn't all that bad, right? Take a look, it came with its own fork. How convenient! Every little thing was gonna be fine.

The crackers were precisely similar to those little puffy hexagonal oyster crackers one always recieves with chowder, except flatter and rectangular and somehow more grim. The ramen itself was slightly better than the other bowl, but not by much. I still found myself repulsed by what tasted like muddy, oily water with sharp raw garlic tones, and the extra bits.... Well, I normally do my best to avoid scatological comparisons, but it appeared that a rabbit had visited the bowl before I'd gotten to it. I try not to rate based on looks (though a naruto does tend to add a little bit of charm).

Halfway through eating, I accidentally dropped the fork completely into the broth. I instinctively reach for it... then realised that it simply wasn't worth the effort. That's two failures for two attempts at this brand, and now I'll need to supplement my lunch with something that won't make me regret starting this blog.

What a way to puctuate my return after an absence, eh? And what a way to contrast my anniversary! (Nine years, Kristy. Love you more than anything, including ramen.)

Numbers: packaging 3, preparation 2, heat 1, flavour 1, overall 1

Music: Voltaire - The Devil's Bris - Anniversary