Coded green.

Sunday 21 January 2007

Portion package of Norwegian noodles

Pic of the day: Mr Lee, the stereotypical Chinese chef who speaks bad the Norwegian.

Racist noodles

Gradually, unremarkably, like a creeping blight, noodles are taking over my kitchen. I used to think of them as some weird precursor for the pasta, which was the final end point of food evolution. When you have Italian pasta, there is nothing more to say. Who would want to talk to an ape when there are humans around? Who would want to eat noodles when there was pasta? But then for some forgotten reason I tried noodles. Probably because of Naruto. Or perhaps my LJ friends.

It wasn't exceptional in any way, but it wasn't too bad. And then later I bought another packet of ready portioned noodles with beef taste and herbs. And another. And a whole bunch.

On Friday I found a competing brand that was noticeably cheaper. Also they don't have blatant racist packaging.


The smiley face and the stereotypical name (Mr. Lee) is not enough. No, the rather short cooking instructions are in mangled Norwegian, in which not all words mean what they usually do. Clearly it is meant to make fun of immigrants who don't understand the nuances of the Norwegian language.

Well, it is not inciting violence, it is just gentle mocking. I am sure it is well within their rights of free speech. Still, it is not something I'd want others to do unto me. And I am pretty sure there would have been some backlash if they had tried a stunt like that with negroes. Who, incidentally, demand not to be call negro but "black", a word which in Norwegian used to mean "dirty" when used about people. The irony is almost biting its own tail here.

Still, getting noodles cheaper and without racism seemed like an obvious choice to me. Racism is after all a property of the early stages of the Blue vMeme, the ethnocentric part. It is not something that at all appeals to an integral person, or a postmodern, or even a modern person. The fact that noodles are largely the food of students makes it even more baffling.

The sad truth, however, is that the racist noodles taste better. The competing brand has a kind of sweet smell, not quite like vanilla I think but more in that direction than anything I'd associate with dinner. They are not so bad when I cook them with buillon instead of the herb mix they come with. But I'm going to go the the supermarket in the city (the local one is not super enough) and buy some generic noodles, without the portion packaging and the "taste" mix. If I boil them in broth anyway, I may as well pay less and hopefully avoid the sweet taste.

[EDIT: I have been made aware that the Mr Lee brand is indeed created by a Mr Lee, from Korea. Quite a fascinating story. Evidently he came here as a refugee of sorts during the Korea war, and after an adventurous life started the noodle business at the age of 50. At this point, barely anyone in Norway wanted to have anything to do with noodles. This has changed a lot since, not least thanks to him. Whether he is just being self-depreciating or subtly mocking Norwegian racism, I don't know. But after 30+ years in Europe, he probably doesn't need to write that way unless he wants to. Perhaps I should buy some more of his noodles now.]

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: "Finding a glove"
Two years ago: Fast forward
Three years ago: Cold days
Four years ago: BitTorrent?
Five years ago: Postpone NOW!
Six years ago: Beside the average
Seven years ago: Telehubbies
Eight years ago: Forgot the doctor

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