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Sunday, August 29, 2004

"It tastes like BURNing...!"

Posted by Nathaniel at 3:55 PM
I had mentioned previously that this week (the one we just went through, not the one just ahead) was going to be horrendous. And it was. From my profile, you might be able to ascertain that I work in the IT projects department for my company. I'm a Technical Analyst, to be exact. Our company is currently in the midst of implementing a brand new ERP system into our worldwide infrastructure, replacing several outdated systems. For those of you familiar with the grand scale of such an undertaking, you may be capable of comprehending its absolute enormity. Due to this project's size and complexity, we often have experts from the various worldwide business units within the company flown in to our US offices for a week at a time so we can all sit down and discuss the system's design in detail, face-to-face.

What does this mean for us? Well, for a small-town Iowa boy like myself, it means one simple thing: "culture shock". I am suddenly inundated with various cultures, all--if you will pardon the pun--are completely foreign to me. We have representatives from every region of Europe, China, Singapore, Japan, India, Australia-it's absolutely insane how many different cultures can be brought together in such a relatively short amount of time and/or space.

I worked all this past week with one subset of the entire group with job functions relating to customer service, ordering, and planning. We had an energetic young woman in the group who wouldn't eat the food we had brought in every day. Instead, she brought several containers of instant curry noodles with her, and had that for lunch every day. Now, this wasn't some crappy package of Ramen noodles. No, this was quality curry noodles that she brought in from her native Singapore, and I was jealous. Maybe in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, you can get this kind of stuff on every street corner. I've heard they literally throw it out of windows at passers-by in the seldom-ventured alleys of San Francisco. But here in the God-forsaken grassy desert of Iowa, this stuff is not encountered frequently. In fact, you could even go so far as to say that any curry of any kind is predominently rare around this facet of the world.

I told my co-worker this without the troubling barrier of minced words. She was astonished, led to believe--obviously by some foul rumor spread throughout the nation of Singapore-that curry noodles were tossed unceremoniously to passers-by out every window of every city in the continental United States. Hm. Go figure.

So, on our last day together, this wonderful woman brought to me her last container of instant curry noodles. I clutched it in my hands as though I had just uncovered the last, most precious diamond in existence. It was a treasure to me. The container itself simply emanated worth from it's subtle, foreign-labeled packaging.

So, the other day, I prepared myself to eat this perfect culinary creation for lunch. It wasn't easy. There were no instructions whatsoever. It wasn't even that the instructions were clearly written, only in some foreign script that I was not equipped to decipher. No. They were not there anywhere. By this, it is my supposition that in Singapore, this stuff is so absolutely commonplace, that they all understand from birth exactly how to make it. The process is ingrained within their DNA, handed down genetically from parent to child.

In order to fake confidence in preparing this treat, I assumed simplicity. I dumped everything together in the plastic container and threw it in the microwave for 3 minutes. Stirred. Another minute. Done. Time to feast.

I once ate a habeƱero on a dare. Though I cried for over an hour, that experience was nothing compared to this. I couldn't read the label to this curry noodles packaging, so I was very surprised to find out that it was actually called "Fiery Curry". Fiery, eh? Wouldn't know it from the fact that my tongue has melted off, and slid helplessly down my throat. It burned like the fires of a thousand suns, and I cried like a little girl.

But, holy crap was that stuff good! Definitely worth the trip to the emergency room.


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