Burmese noodles

I swear — and whenever I use this phrase, I may be about to utter some truth — that I could have been the patriarch of instant noodles. Except, upon checking this claim within the Wicked Paedia, I see that “instant ramen” was (were?) launched in Japan in 1958; and my scheme for Burmese noodles was not even conceived until 1971. There was no Wicked Paedia in 1971, however, so my claim might have prevailed for a while.

This idea was one of several “get rich quick” schemes I entertained in those days, when I was still a child, but now of adult years. During my one and only visit to Rangoon (as it then was, and should be called in English) I was enchanted by the noodles of a street vendor, who was incidentally rather pretty. I had no idea of the recipe, and made no attempt to procure it, but it was a liquid variant of standard Burmese curry, with perhaps additional sesame oil; flooding rice noodles. One might be tempted to add a duck, but few were to be seen flying over Rangoon on that day.

The technology of “flash frying” was not yet clear to me, though I guessed that high heat would be involved. On the Thai streets, with which I was more familiar, I had already been impressed with the speed at which “prepped” raw materials could be transformed. I conceived of the idea of dried instant noodles, and powdered flavouring packages, and the ugly small plastic bags they could be sold in.

As my elder son demonstrated, a generation later, the dry pre-cooked noodles could also be sprinkled with the flavouring powder, and munched like potato crisps straight from the bag. Think of the potential.

Fortunately, I didn’t have the money to advance my scheme, on even a modest scale. And thank God, for if it had been successful, I might be rich today. Indeed, I am grateful for the “failure to launch” of all my get-rich-quick schemes before the age of twenty, and for my abandonment of such ambitions later. I’ve lived a charmed life.

My Luddite approach to technology developed in those days. The intention of “high tech” was subsumed in an apocalyptic vision: of the slavery into which men and women are thrust, when they surrender their crafts and cooking. They become “workers and consumers” — slaves, generally, without even religion to sustain them. For whether serving Capitalism, or Communism, they have joined a pyramid scheme, under an invariably unhappy pharaoh, and his team of whippers: cranking out pyramids, Burmese noodles, whatever.