When we were penurious in college and living off very limited pocket money, the easiest and cheapest thing to eat after a long day in college was Maggi noodles. And no, it wasn’t ready to serve in two minutes– unless of course you had a fetish for raw Maggi. It took close to 7 to 8 minutes, and if you left it in the pan for a few more, what you ended up with was a congealed mass of not-so-instant noodles all stuck to each other in the shape of the very pan it was cooked in. Did we still eat it? Yes, because we were ravenous and once we ate it, it sat in our stomachs like a big brick and made us feel stuffed for hours.
Today, more than a decade later, now that we have larger disposable incomes and (some of us) can cook while the rest of us can order in food, given a choice we’d be idiots to opt for a plate of Maggi over say Cheese Toast or Spaghetti Aglio Olio.
It doesn’t mean Maggi has completely disappeared from the menu. When I used to stay back late at work in Gurgaon, I’ve had a plateful of Maggi doctored with chopped chillis and veggies from the theka chap for Rs 20. After a 17-hour day and in the dead of Delhi winter, it hit all the right spots – it was hot, spicy, filling, fast and cheap. And it was reassuringly familiar. How wrong could you go with Maggi?
Well, very very wrong. Suddenly in the last two years, Maggi noodles has taken on a grunge cool image which is beyond my understanding. It has graduated from college student, busy mom and roadside theka to become the hip new thing to serve and order. It’s baffling simply going by nutritional basics. Maggi is not particularly healthy or tasty. It’s full of salt and fat and until a while back had enough MSG to rock your world as well. And let’s not even go into what might be happening once it gets inside your stomach given how it congeals into a lump if left alone for 5 minutes. And no, no other noodle – rice/ soba/ fettucine/ spaghetti/ egg – does this. That along should worry us that something is wrong, very wrong.
So, why would I go to a restaurant and pay Rs 300 (including taxes) for a bowlful of Maggi noodles? This is a question that has been troubling me for a while. Two years back, Mocha restaurant began serving Maggi. You got to choose from three sauces - Arrabiata, Thai red Curry and Cream Cheese and Garlic. It cost Rs 160 for the vegetarian variety and Rs 180 with chicken – excluding taxes.
Now there’s Farzi Cafe, which I quite love. The extremely impressive and very young chef insisted we order the Posh Maggi there. It was Maggi instant noodles drizzled with Truffle Oil and topped with Pan-Seared Foie Gras. The foie gras was delicious, but I would never order it again. Talk about ruining perfectly delicious foie gras and supremely expensive truffle oil. A culinary travesty if ever there was one.
There’s a restaurant in Indore called FYI, which serves Maggi with different sauces and spices and makes the instant noodles into kebabs and pizzas and pulao. I cannot imagine anything more vile. Being gimmicky is fine, but there should be some concession made to the basic niceties of taste. This, to me, is the breakdown of civilisation as we know it.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no escaping Maggi noodles nowadays. It’s bad enough that every time we switch on our telly we have Madhuri Dixit jumping around in shiny leotards asking her family to do aerobics with her and serving them a “healthy” breakfast of Maggi – that too without brushing their teeth.
Now, even restaurants are gussying up Maggi as if it’s a nostalgia-themed food fancy-dress party. Forget foie gras, I say we need to first ban Maggi noodles from being served in restaurants – on the ground of cruelty to humans paying for a decent meal. The only thing which will restore the balance in the culinary universe is if restaurants start serving Grungy Tagliatelle With Shaved Truffles for the price of Rs 20 to compensate for passing off Maggi as a gourmet delight.
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Updated Date: Aug 27, 2014 13:27:39 IST