Deep Questions: What puts the Oriental in Oriental-flavored Ramen?

July 24, 2009

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Instantnoodles.jpgI haven't eaten Top Ramen in years. I was raised on it. But sometime during high school I ramened out and never returned. Only today did these microwavable pleasures hurtle back into my sphere of awareness. It
went like this. I heard my roommate say to her friend, "Hey, so beef-flavored or Oriental-flavored ramen?"

"Whoa," I turned, "Oriental ramen?"

She looked at me funny, "Um, yeah...?"

Yeah, I'd forgotten. Apparently, there is a beef flavor, a shrimp flavor, some other flavors, and ta-da! Oriental flavor. Because we Orientals have a particular flavor? Because a clearly demarcated Orient even exists to be tasted? I don't know though. I think my favorite part is still that "Oriental flavor" exists in a spectrum with "Beef flavor" and "Shrimp flavor." It's as if Nissin Top Ramen is saying: As beef
and shrimp have these essential characteristics, so too do Orientals.

Mmm, delicious Asian peoples...

The back of a packet of Nissin Top Ramen reads, "Nissin Top Ramen is America's Original Ramen Noodle Soup and a family favorite since 1970." This is interesting. First, because fresh ramen noodle providers would never claim to have an Oriental-flavored broth. But a company actively making such a claim is "America's Original Ramen Noodle Soup." Then because it was around 1968 that the Yellow Power movement first coined the term Asian American and rejected the term Oriental. And yet, while Nissin has been around since exactly that time, this flavor of ramen remains... delicious?

I guess taste can redefine a word. We should make a T-shirt. On the front: Oriental-flavored! On the back: Salt Soy Sauce Powder (Wheat Soybeans Maltodextrin Salt) Monosodium Glutamate Spices Hydrolyzed Soy
Corn and Wheat Protein Garlic Powder Caramel Color Onion Powder Rice Oil Citric Acid Disodium Succinate Dehydrated Leek Calcium Silicate (Anticaking Agent) Disodium Guanylate Disodium Inosinate.




Its my understanding that people are Asian and things are Oriental. Asian people, Oriental Noodles. Asian woman, Oriental vase. Asian girl, Oriental nuclear warhead.
You make that T-shirt, and I'll buy it! Great post. Had a good laugh.
You have to admit, soy sauce and garlic pretty much make up half of the flavors of the Orient (The Asian cuisine I make usually has one or the other, if not both). And since the Asian people no longer want the term "Oriental," we might as well use it to describe flavors . . . and rugs. Otherwise, it would be a waste of a word.
UH...Oriental -flavored...kinda like this blog...add me to the list for a t-shirt.
Maaaake that shirt. I'd totally wear it.
Maybe it's supposed to taste like a rug - uncooked, it does look like one
It does look like a rug, doesn't it? Does anyone know of a t-shirt company that would print us a shirt like this? I think we should do it.
Everyone is waiting for the T-shirt. I want to wear it everyday. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.
Thank you so much! What other posts of mine have you read? I do really need to make this shirt. But I've never made one before, and I would want it to be graphically attractive and fit well so people would feel comfortable wearing it... Maybe I should submit a design to What do you think?