Jewish World Review Jan. 16, 2004 / 22 Teves, 5764

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Cheap eats in college? Use your noodle | If you are what you eat, we should probably slap a sticker on our son that says, "Cook three minutes and stir occasionally."

He just moved home from college to begin a seven-month internship and brought the entire contents of his apartment with him. The bulk of his earthly possessions consist of Ramen noodles. We have enough Ramen in our garage to bulk up a heavily populated Third World nation The package boasts that "ramen noodles are versatile." Indeed they are. College students have been known to use Ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch, dinner, shampoo and conditioner.

If you have not experienced the culinary delight, imagine a box of legal size envelopes shredded lengthwise (box included), curled and then simmered in boiling water. Now add a lethal dose of MSG and you have the full Top Ramen experience.

"So, you really like this stuff, huh?" I ask, lugging the third box-full of pork flavored noodles into the garage.

"They're OK, but mainly they're cheap."

Ramen noodles are very cheap, which is why almost every college student lives on them at some time or another. This is part of the college education process. Learning how to be a poor college student prepares one for graduating from college, taking an entry level job and becoming a poor twenty-something.

Ramen noodles are a poor man's bread and butter, or in this case, wheat and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.. Ramen noodles were advertised in a circular this week at 12 packs for a dollar. The thing is, we don't need any more bargains on ramen noodles. What we need is a ramen noodle buy-back program.

Naturally, since I drilled the kid on good nutrition as a child, ramen noodles weren't the only thing he brought back from campus. He also brought back two cans of generic hot chocolate mix and two large jars of peanut butter.

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That loud rumble you just heard emanating from the earth's core was the food pyramid crashing to pieces.

As far as household furnishings go, he hauled home a couch and a bed. I took one look at the couch and kindly suggested we donate it to a charity. He kindly reminded me that he bought the couch himself (a monetary exchange valued at 100 packs of artificial chicken flavored Ramen). He also said that it would be extremely difficult to find another just like it. He had me there. I would be very surprised if I was able to walk into a department store and find a bright green sofa with seriously frayed cushions and a 20-year-old musty scent.

The garage is so jam-packed that all three cars must now sit in the driveway. All we need now are those little colored plastic flags snapping in the wind and signs in the vehicle windshields offering $2,000 rebates, 36-month warranties and a one-year supply of artificial chicken flavored Ramen.

On rare occasions when the garage door is open, it makes for a terrible sight from the street. The last time the door was up, the doorbell rang and there stood a couple of kids in their early twenties, their arms full of ramen noodles. They asked if I wanted to check them out or direct them to a U-scan.

I smiled and said they could buy from me directly. "They're a buck a pack," I said. There's more than one way to pay for that college tuition.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman