Thursday, June 26, 2014

Trending in Taiwan: Custard Pudding + Instant Noodle

By Asia Pop Culture

This is just too weird that truly deserves some space here.  According to WSJ China Real Time,  The latest sweeping food craze in Taiwan involves mixing sweet custard pudding, to pork or other flavored instant noodles.  This trend was supposedly inspired by a 37-year old guy named Mani after posting his new found gourmet food on Facebook.  WSJ quoted him saying,
“You expect the combination to be disgusting, but it is actually quite mind-blowing ... Mmm, it tastes like sweet corn chowder. Delicious!”

He went on sharing his "best practice" experience -- To get a good balance of sweet and salty flavors, the best ratio is one cup of pudding per bowl of instant noodle using the entire seasoning packet that comes with the instance noodle.  

WSJ reports that other bizarre instant noodle 'recipes' have also surfaced, from canned dog food to ice cream bars and chocolate pies, or combinations like pudding with braised pork rice.

Instant noodle was originated in Japan in 1958, but has since become one of the most popular food items in the world owing largely to its convenience, speedy no-cooking-required preparation.  In recent years, instant noodles have often been criticized as unhealthy or junk food as Noodles are typically fried, resulting in high levels of fat.

However, junk or fatty food are usually 'comfort food' as well.  So no wonder global consumption of these dried noodle blocks jumped 15% to 105.6 billion packets from 2008, the start of a global recession, to 2013, according to the World Instant Noodles Association.  Those cupped custard pudding has been popular in Taiwan since 30 years ago.

Since pudding is a dessert, it is also part of the 'comfort food' family.  By combining supper salty, fatty instant noodle with sweet and soft custard pudding, you get a super double whammy comfort food.  So it probably makes sense that Mani explains the surging popularity of this seemingly weird food cocktail,
“Taiwan has been unhappy and contentious for so long. If the story of eating flan [pudding] with your instant noodles can give people a break from all this fighting, then I think it’s well worth it.” 
Indeed, Taiwan has gone through a series of seriously turbulent events, from Sunflower Student Movement in March to Taipei metro knifing massacre in May.  I personally worry that Taiwan socioeconomic development seems to have skewed to placing very little value on law and government legislative system by mis-interpreting what democracy really means.  The increasing political isolation in the past 30-40 years plays a very large part, (there are only 22 countries in the world maintaining official diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.)  Maybe this pudding + instant noodle is a way people in Taiwan may find even some room to breathe and free self-expression.