A virus and a fever have laid me low all week. Yesterday, for my big trip out of the house, I drove to the drug store to buy analgesics. While I was out, I thought that a bowl of soup might be therapeutic. So I stopped into Got Banh Mi and Pho, a restaurant that has interesting Vietnamese sandwiches and a passable bowl of pho.
My original plan was a bowl of that soothing beef pho, but I changed my mind when I saw the chicken pho on the menu. Chicken soup is a cure-all, right? Then I noticed the daily special—chicken ramen soup. My fever-addled brain pictured an Asian variation on chicken noodle soup, but what I got was a bowl of drek.
There were chunks of boneless skinless chicken breast, green onions, and shredded carrots in a disgusting broth. I puzzled over the bizarre flavor. What made the soup so red? What was that cloying sweetness? Finally, I asked my waiter how they made the soup.
If I understood him correctly, he said the chicken stock was made from a packaged soup base. Was the red color from Sriracha sauce? I asked him. "No, ketchup," he responded. "With some spicy seasonings."
I had just eaten a bowl of ketchup soup. Revolted, I staggered home to my sick bed.
As the popularity of ramen increases, so, evidently, do the horrible imitations.