The Joys Of Modern Life: 33. Pot Noodles

THE POT Noodle has an image problem. It's not an aspirational snack. You imagine them spilt amid the needles and vomit on a junkie's living-room carpet. Or left half-eaten by some bachelor's bedside, abandoned on top of a pile of dog-eared copies of Razzle. Or piling up in the wire basket of some friendless individual in the queue behind you in Tesco, making you feel all cosy and superior about your organic kumquats and family pack of part-baked croissants.

But the Pot Noodle, for those who can overcome their prejudices, offers a world of unregarded pleasure - due as much to what it kicks against, as to what it tastes like.

It is gloriously unpretentious food. The fierce, synthetic flavourings are so intense and dusty, they give you the impression that someone has managed to turn smoky bacon crisps into a hot meal. It's far superior to the other just-add-water snacks with which it shares supermarket shelf space.

Curry-flavoured Pot Mash probably has enough E-numbers in it to make a horse chronically hyperactive, and the Pot Rice range has an unattractive tendency to degrade to an unctuous mush. But Pot Noodle's highly flavoured wriggliness makes eating it more like a larky game than a meal.

And this can be an educative experience: for many people, these slippery rehydrated forms are an introduction to Oriental cuisine. Before you can graduate to dragon broccoli with tofu, you have to go through a stage at which the Nice'n'Spicy brand is the apogee of exoticism.

Bestfoods, the creators of Pot Noodle, is clearly under no illusion about its product's lack of glamour and sophistication. Its ad campaign is headed by Peter Baynham, the gonk-like comedian who used to emerge each week from inside a deep fat-fryer on Lee and Herring's Fist of Fun. Unlike the makers of truly disgusting food such as Viennetta and Cook-In sauces, Bestfoods doesn't pretend its product will provide some life-changing experience.

It's never going to persuade Ken Hom to endorse it as the authentic taste of Szechuan province, and we'll never see Jancis Robinson gargling with the barbecue variety, and comparing it to oak-smoked pencil shavings beneath a miasma of bilberry and Bovril.

I doubt whether even Delia Smith would agree to feature it in her next book of obvious culinary observations. I confess a secret desire to see Loyd Grossman trying to coo over a Pot Noodle coulis on Masterchef. "And for pudding it's Birds Trifle with Party Faces biscuits, Loyd," the mould-breaking contestant would say. It'd be one in the eye for all those dreadful people who live in converted water towers on the Sussex Downs and who - while everyone else is at work - spend their afternoons caramelising pears with a blow-torch.

And there's more skill involved in the Pot Noodle's preparation than you might think. The process requires judgement and forethought. You don't just splosh a load of water into the tub and let it get on with it. Just as in tea-making, there's a delicate art involved. Too much water and you'll have a dilute soup, too little and you'll be struggling with an oleaginous slurry topped with a tangle of unrehydrated matter.

Though generally regarded as a culinary last resort, the Pot Noodle may yet have its day, particularly if there's a nuclear war, when their indestructible wholesomeness will make them more valuable than diamonds. So if you've got any millenarian suspicions about the end of the world, start hoarding them now.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
    'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

    Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

    Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
    Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

    Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

    New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

    Rebranding Christmas

    More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
    A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

    A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

    Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
    Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

    Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

    New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
    Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

    Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

    He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...