Sunday, May 06, 2007

There's Self-Loathing in My Miso!

First off, I'm lazy.

Second, I can't cook.

With those two facts in mind, it should be easy to understand that pre-packaged, easy-to-prepare food frequently popularizes my pantry — when I remember to buy food. In the past few weeks, I've become especially fond of Annie Chun. She's the Korean-born Betty Crocker, only she's real and her food doesn't suck.

See that face? Who couldn't want to eat her noodles, what with her pleasantness and earnestness and her face being encircled by a snazzy little gold design. She's the very sun herself, that Annie Chun! Her whole product line is particularly appealing to be because she has pledged to deliver healthy food — and in biodegradable packaging, no less. Seriously, you can throw your plastic away without even having to pretend you feel guilty about it.

Then I visited Annie's site. I quote:
If you're like everybody I know, you've fallen in love with Asian food. Those big bright flavors. Those exotic sauces and ingredients. Those delightful noodles with names you can never quite remember. You love to eat Asian food, but you're way too busy to cook it. And even if you had the time, where would you start. It's all so tricky and mysterious, right?
Oh Annie.

For the moment, I'll let the lumping of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai food under the label "big, bright flavors" slide for a moment. (Though I'd like to ask what Annie thinks about the subtle, muted flavors of Italy.) I'll even excuse the idea of an Asian person presenting her native cuisine to an American audience as "exotic."

I will, however, stop you at "Those noodles with names you can never quite remember." I ate your food just last night. What is so hard to pronounce about "miso"? "Pad thai"? "Ramen"? Annie, though I love you I'm a little put off that you think your phonetic languages confound my Caucasian brain. "Um, I'm looking for a sauce that's typically eaten on Chinese food. It's red, and the flavor is a kind of a combination. It's… Well, I guess it's a combination of sour flavors and sweet ones. It's a sweety-soury sauce. What's that crazy name your people call that sauce, Annie?"

I may well be too busy — that is, lazy — to cook my own Asian food, but do you really think the rest of us "Westerners" can’t wrap our minds around it? I've seen the roommates do it, and their families come from boring old countries from the apparently non-exotic side the supercontinent. "Tricky and mysterious"? You mean like some kind of Ancient Chinese Secret? Maybe I'm way off, but I've been assuming all this time that Asian dishes are prepared as a result of following a recipe.

Don't get me wrong, Annie Chun. I will continue to eat your tasty, convenient products. But one day I'll think about this again, have a drink or two and ultimately sever my fingers trying to chop my own crudely rolled homemade sushi. And it'll be your fault, Annie Chun, because you told me I couldn't do it. And the, the next week, when I finally manipulate a biodegradable bowl of your Miso in my newly fingerless hands to my mouth, it will taste sour — sour with your curious blend egotism, self-loathing, a delicious green onions.

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome. But she might have a point about "those noodles you can't remember the names of." Could this be why Chinese restaurants number their menus? Because they know we can't pronounce something as simple as "lo mein"?

    Damn you, tone languages and our general lack of understanding of them in the West!

    And damn you Annie Chun, because while I like your biodegradable teriyaki noodle bowl, your miso soup is possibly the worst miso soup I've ever had.