I was planning to write about something else when I got off on a tangent. So why not stick with the tangent for now?
I began by mentioning that in the new year P and I are consciously trying to be more healthy in our eating choices. We are going to try and eat more local and organic foods if we can, and try to eat less processed foods as well.
Which led me to the tangent… while thinking about much loved processed food. While I might pine desperately for a chocolate bar, I think P would daydream of… WaiWai.
Why WaiWai? Sorry, I couldn’t help myself there.
WaiWai is kind of like a Nepali/Indian version of American ramen instant noodles. It is packaged in a similar way although the spices are pre-cooked into the dried noodles instead of in a little spice packet like in the American version. WaiWai isn’t the healthiest thing in the world, but considering the list of ingredients is pronounceable by a 3rd grader, maybe Michael Pollan might grudgingly say that it is okay to eat (although there are more than 5 ingredients, and technically, I’m not sure if it would ever rot, uh oh). But heck, we are not ones to judge, P is still a graduate student, and we do the grad-student instant noodle meal from time to time!
The funny thing about WaiWai is that it seems to have a nostalgic emotional appeal to some of the Nepalis I know, and most definitely for P. He tells stories of how as kids they might pool together a few rupees to buy WaiWai from a street vendor as a snack or for lunch. Or how WaiWai was a much welcomed addition to the bland boarding school food of high school years. It is one of those easily transportable foods that is quick and easy to eat on the go.
So when the Vietnamese grocer around the block from our apartment occasionally has WaiWai in stock (and our caches at home are depleted), don’t be surprised if you see P lugging home a box of 40 WaiWai packets, cleaning out the grocer of his supply.
I certainly ate my fair share of ramen in my pre-P days. So I wasn’t surprised that P enjoyed a good WaiWai every now and then, but I was surprised to see the “snack on the go” way to eat it. Unlike the American ramen which (maybe I’m sheltered but) I’ve only seen eaten in soup form—you know, step 1) boil the noodles for 3 minutes, step 2) add the spice packet, and step 3) slurp up with a spoon—P and his brother U would eat it straight out of the packet. Raw. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Pass the packet, crunch some more. Useful on long car trips, but to me at first, seemingly weird. Ew, raw noodles? How is that tasty?
Now I’ve gotten used to having some WaiWai every now and then, although I think it is safe to assume I still prefer my dried noodles cooked, in soup form or chow mein style. However, for instance, during the Epic Family Visit of 2008, P’s mom wouldn’t venture 10 minutes away from our apartment without packing some sort of snack to keep us all nourished, and Waiwai was easy. Waiwai packets, bananas, clementine oranges, and bottles of water were Mamu’s favorites.
If you like raw WaiWai, you don’t just have to eat it “on the go”… you can even dress it up if you want, without cooking it. Scenario— guests show up at the door unexpected, you don’t have anything to offer for a snack… (as Mamu would say) “What to do?” Add a little diced onion, chili and coriander, and perhaps a squirt of lemon, to a packet or two of crushed dried WaiWai and you have an instant appetizer. Voila!
So I thought I’d take a moment to share in the WaiWai love. Or maybe I’m just hungry and need a snack… is it dinner time yet?