Why does instant spaghetti taste like Tomato soup?

December 15, 2007 5:23 AM by Ann

Being quite unskilled at cooking and currently without a full kitchen facility anyway, I have come to appreciate the variety of instant/microwave dinners available at my local Safeway. However after sampling a great number of brands and meal types I have noticed that despite the expansive variety, there seems to be an extremely narrow band of flavor.

And so we come to the exotic European noodle dish known as spaghetti. I am saddened to report that after extensive research, I have come to the conclusion that all instant spaghetti dinners taste exactly like tomato soup. Frozen, canned, and even the promising somewhat gourmet (ie. slightly more expensive) “NEVER FROZEN! STOVETOP COOKED!” microwavable spaghetti dishes… with or without “meatballs” (pieces of edible paper sponge)… all are simple tomato soup substitutions! How are companies getting away with this?!

Anyway in other more positive news I’ve recently discovered that caffeine free Coca-Cola tastes exactly the same as regular caffeinated Coca-Cola! HOORAY!

Beef noodle soup in San Francisco

May 3, 2006 7:35 PM by Ann

Since I’ve been here in San Francisco I’ve only eaten beef noodle soup once at a restaurant in Chinatown, and it was absolutely nasty and tasteless! Since then I’ve stuck mostly to chow fun since that dish seems slightly harder to get horribly wrong.

Anyway, my friend Emily — who I met and became good friends with while studying in Taipei — came to visit me from the Philippines today! While we were in Taipei we’d eat lunch together practically every day and almost every single time we’d end up going to the same beef noodle soup booth near school. So naturally I decided that we had to have beef noodle soup for lunch. After spending some time searching on google (I typed in “Taiwanese beef noodle soup San Francisco”) and reading various reviews, I settled on “Tea Garden” in downtown San Francisco.

Tea Garden is a small shop on the corner of 1st and Mission that at first glance seems to be just one of those milk tea drink places “to go” with a few pastries and no real seating — just a small counter with a few stools against the wall and a single small folding table that basically takes up half of the customer area. However they do have a small menu of cooked dishes: some combination of either soup noodles and meat, or rice and meat. Anyway I was there for only one thing and so I went right for item #1, the beef noodle soup (“niu rou mian” in Mandarin) for $6.50. After a short wait it was ready and I went right to eating!

I can’t say that the noodles were anything special (somewhat thinner than spaghetti noodles, though not bad at all)… but the broth was very tasty and exactly what I’d expected! The broth wasn’t spicy at all, which is probably a better decision on Tea Garden’s part since there were no options and not everyone likes their soup spicy (and you can always add your own hot chili sauce, which I did). The beef pieces were also good… really soft. The portion was fairly generous and definitely enough for me!

Although I wish they offered some options in terms of soup spiciness and noodle choice, overall I was happy and satisfied with Tea Garden’s beef noodle soup! I’ll definitely be going back for more.

What can $1 buy you at a baseball game?

April 23, 2006 11:07 PM by Ann

Since moving to San Francisco I have done many odd jobs, which I mostly find off of Craigslist or through friends. I’ve done quite a few “promotional modeling” gigs which ridiculously enough often pay better than what I’d get from most Craigslist computer gigs. (Note to these people: If you want someone who actually knows what they’re doing you’re just going to have to pay for it! Otherwise go ahead and hire some random nobody who takes three times as long or worse yet, can’t even do the job…)

Ahem. Anyway, today’s gig was a promo job for Sony PSP at SBC Park. Since I have no car and there’s generally no secure storage at these places, I left my wallet at home and walked out with $10 for food plus bus fare in my pocket. I got there, changed into my uniform, stuck my money in my uniform pocket and figured all was well. Unfortunately an hour or so before my break I discovered that somewhere along the way I had lost my $10. I was starving and I had $1 in my pocket. At a baseball game $1 will buy you absolutely nothing! When break time came around my partner offered to buy me food, but she had only $10 on her so we hunted around trying to find out what we could get with $10 for two people. We eventually decided on hot dogs. As we were standing in line some guy who we’d talked to earlier (while trying to get him to demo our PSPs) turned out to be the guy working the chili stand and he offered us free chili! So we went over to the chili stand, got free chili, and went back to the hot dog booth for hot dogs. It so happened that the lady working behind the counter was someone we talked to before too… and she hooked us up with free hot dogs and soda! Yay! I left my $1 as tip.

Thanks to these people working the food stands at SBC Park I didn’t starve today! The world is filled with kind people in random places…