Sunday, August 19, 2012

Meri Maggi: A Bowlful of Memories - Part 1

Hot and soupy, straight from the pan. Cold and congealed, in a plastic lunch box. With veggies. With chopped-up boiled eggs. With ketchup (yeah !). With chicken curry. Al dente. Starchy soft. In a bowl. On a plate. Masala, Tangy Tomato, Sweet and Sour.

No matter how you liked your Maggi, everyone in India under the age of 40 has memories of it. Each one of us remembers waiting for that one day of the week when mum would oblige us with Maggi in the lunch box, or for dinner, while grumbling about its lack of nutrition. I even had a pact with my best friend - she would share her Maggi lunch with me, and I would share mine. That way, we could enjoy Maggi twice a week. Such cunning !

It's the stuff legends are made of. Dorm cafeterias and university dhabas boast of "their" way of cooking it. Hot plates and electric heaters are smuggled into hostel rooms for the sole purpose of making a (very) late snack of it. It is sustenance for the millions of hungry souls inhabiting the colleges and universities of India, and increasingly abroad. It is what I still yearn for on a rainy day (and on days when the maid fails to show up). After exhausting evenings of partying and dancing, a shared bowl of Maggi stifled the rumblings of our collective stomachs.

It's a simple food - flour noodles, and a packet of seasoning. Boil water, add noodles and seasoning, cook until soft. And to this day, I haven't managed to cook it in the stipulated "2 minutes". It usually takes me 8-10. 

But I digress. False advertising aside, Maggi delivered on its promise of being a tasty, spicy, quick and easy meal (it never claimed to be healthy, until a whole-wheat avatar was launched in 2008). While many households reserved it for an evening snack for the kids (after a vigorous game of tag), many a harried mother has given in to its temptation as full-blown dinner on days when chopping veggies, frying onions, making curry and rolling out chapattis seemed to be just way too much.

We never had much say in when and how much of it we could eat; we could salivate for weeks before the elders deemed it ok - "Chalo aaj Maggi bana lete hain". Ahhh ! The joy ! The anticipation ! The aroma wafting from the kitchen as the saucepan bubbled !

And then came college, with the inedible dorm food and the perennially broke situation. We all turned to our only savior - the only thing that remained edible no matter who made it - and we all over-did it. Maggi for lunch, dinner, and late-night snack. All week. All month. All semester. Towards the end of my 4 years was the only time in my life that I was slightly revolted by it.

To be continued........

1 comment:

  1. It's impossible to like Maggi after 2 years in the BITS Hostel. Overdosed for life!