Maggi is dead, long live Maggi

June 9, 2015

When did i first taste Maggi? I don’t remember but i do know when i ate it the last time.

Maggi defined our childhood, since it hit India in 1982, along with the first colour TV sets, ‘Street Hawk’ bikes, scented erasers, Limca, Rasna, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, Buniyad… Right, Maggi is sheer nostalgia, the passing of a decade when it permanently transformed our palate so much so that i used to force mom to add a dash of turmeric to Licia, a bland brand of healthy noodle that came without the tastemaker, before i even thought of touching it. Of course, Licia didn’t have Maggi’s curls — some studies say LEAD gives it the twist in the strands — which, ironically, has tied up the Swiss giant into a knot it doesn’t knows how to untangle. But then, who remembers Licia?

noodlesFor 33 years, India has slurped Maggi in every form conceivable — outright soupy, hakka and even fried; with peas, carrots, capsicum, onions, tomatoes, chicken shreds and topped with scrambled eggs, bhujia, Kurkure, and whatever one could lay their hands on in haste.

For a perpetually hungry nation, speed is of essence and jugaad, the answer. The result: The fastest of fast food; though Maggi, in reality, takes a couple of minutes more than just two to cook. Other noodle brands tried to replicate its success, but ended up as also-rans. The ‘tastemaker’ was Maggi’s ace: Nestle managed to conjure up the perfect Oriental ‘umami’ flavour.

Once the generation, which grew up lusting after the bright yellow packets lining up the kitchen shelf, left home for studies and jobs far far away, shacks  started feeding them what they could have for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner: an all-weather, all-terrain (thelas on the beach to hasty stoves on Jaisalmer sands to being the perhaps only quick option available in the dizzying Himalayan heights) snack. Maggi made it sure we could live on with a slice of ‘maa’s noodle’ and that we could have a home away from home; in other words, India, for the first time, got a common comfort food — a unifier of sorts, on the lines of cricket.

noodles1But all along, we knew what we were eating. That the tastemaker is made of MSG, a chemical which most studies have shown as carcinogenic. That the a basic pack of Maggi, even if one discounts the lead overdose, is essentially, unhealthy refined flour. That the apology of vegetables — the microscopic cubes and slices of carrots and tiny shriveled peas that come with the packets, taste rubbery and are anything but fresh and healthy. In short, Maggi’s punchline ‘taste bhi health bhi’ was a sham and the time-bomb was ticking for Nestle.

When did i last taste Maggi? May the 25th. Even after knowing that the UP Food and Drugs Authority had recalled a particular batch of noodles high on lead and MSG. Hunger struck in the slim hours of morning, the larder was empty, so in went a pack of noodles in boiling water along with just a pinch of tastemaker to give the bubbling mass a straw-yellow color. An egg was gently broken into it and after a liberal sprinkle of mango pickle oil, it was gawkily christened ‘Hakka Maggi in aam aachar ka tel topped with a fried egg’.

All hell has broken loose after that and i have duly fallen back on brown toasts, fruit cocktails and roasted nuts for small eats. Hunger still strikes in the oddest of hours but the corner of the kitchen shelf now brims over with cornflakes, oats and bananas instead of the yellow packets. RIP Maggi. Hope you are reborn in a healthy avatar.

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4 Responses to “Maggi is dead, long live Maggi”

  1. sharmi said

    My heartfelt condolences to you! !!! 😦

  2. Sin is pleasure, eh? ;-)…

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