why? You might ask. And you’re right, it seems crazy to bring Maruchan instant ramen from the US back to the country that spawned it. It would be like bringing Hello Kitty products from the US to kids in Japan as gifts. It’s strange and doesn’t make any sense.
But as I’ve learned, it makes PERFECT FUCKING SENSE. Why? Why. Indeed.
I’ve said it before: my reading skills in Japanese are basically nonexistent. I know 2 kanji and like 5 hiragana symbols. I suck at reading. Thankfully, Google translate does not suck at reading, and can read pictures. So I use it when I need it.
I grew up eating Maruchan Beef Ramen. Like most American kids born in the 80’s, I’d wager. When they come 10 to a pack for $1, everyone buys them. I think. I survived through college on this. This is my comfort food, and something I miss terribly. Right next to Kraft Mac n’Cheese dinner.
You’d think I’d be able to find this in Japan, since Maruchan is a Japanese company. You’d definitely think that. But we would ALL be wrong. Like Kraft, who manages to make a NON-GMO wheat noodle specifically so it can export its Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese dinner to the EU (things I learned in Germany thanks to the EU ban on GMO products), Maruchan makes specific flavors to export to specific markets. So beef is a popular flavor in the USA (shocking, I know), but not in local Japan.
I used the translator on all of the packages in the shop. No beef. Fish, salmon, SALT (wtf?), Pork Tonkatsu. These are the flavors I found, and are the ones most often mentioned by students. But when I mention beef flavor to students or workers at the store, I get a blank stare looking back at me. It just doesn’t effing exist here. And if it does, no one is telling me so.
I even took a photo of the package and took it to my grocery stores to see if I could find something with the same photo on it, just in case they were pawning off one as the other. They were not. The closest I came with the photo was to the Pork Tonkatsu flavor, which tastes similar, but not as good.
Oh, and also, the flavor packets are liquid here. Which is annoying.
So I went to the US. I loaded up on Cheez-Its, Goldfish, Red Twizzlers (because ‘red’ is a flavor when it comes to Twizzlers), and Maruchan beef ramen. I had so much stuff, I had to pack it in a box and send it back to myself, or risk paying the ridiculous overweight fees at the airport.
And now here I am: back in Japan, waiting for my package of comfort food to arrive in the mail. I cannot WAIT to make some beef ramen.