Its the proverbial David versus Goliath story. In this story, David is a junior food safety officer in Barabanki. He got some samples of instant noodles tested and the results brought Goliath, Nestle, to its knees. Until then, Brand Maggi gave instant gratification to every hungry traveller, trekker and even office goer. In the past few days, ever since the Barbanki man pulled his punch by publishing test results that showed excessive lead in Maggi, I have been reminiscing about my favourite Maggi stories.
Maggi, of course, never lived up to its promise of being cooked in two-minutes. For years the company marketed it with the tagline ‘Bas do minute mein taiyyar’, I don’t think they could be cooked in 2 minutes even in a microwave oven! But the popularity of the product had grown so much, that even the company had started using people’s stories to market the product. Sigh! I never got my chance to market these brilliant stories! So as a requiem to Maggi, here are some of my Maggi stories:
At virtually every hairpin bend going up the hills, you would find a Maggi Point: selling assorted chips, some biscuits, chai ( made desi style: over-brewed with ginger and assorted masalas) and the ubiquitous Maggi. I remember a time when we were trekking to Har Ki Doon. The last point is a forest guest house, where food was at a premium. There was a group of 8 Bengali men, a Mumbai couple and three of us from Delhi walking up to the end point of the trek. The climb was steep and arduous. The Bengali gentlemen were carrying their own rations and had decided on eating a simple meal of sattu mixed in some hot water. That left five of us, we had been trekkijng since 8 am and it took us almost 7 hours to reach our destination. The three of us took the slope slowly, while the Mumbai couple, trekked up fast. and reached a good half hour before us. There were only two packets of Magii left by way of lunch. The couple, was kind enough to have one cooked for themselves and leave one for the three of us to share, a kind of trekkers’ bro code, you could say. When we reached, hungry and tired, that hot steaming bowl of Maggi at that moment tasted like manna from heaven!
When i used to work for a lifestyle a magazine in Noida, the high point of the day was a plateful of spicy Maggi. The chaiwala had invented his own recipe by adding onions, tomatoes and a handful of green chillies to some butter, stir-frying them with the ‘masala’ and then cooking the Maggi in it. It was simply delicious snack! I have even been to a cafe in Delhi, where everything on the menu was only related to Maggi: they had a list of 25 different types of ways they cooked Maggi. In a roadside joint in Gurgaon, that makes hot paranthas late at night for call centre workers, one of the carts has a delicious egg Maggi, in which a smoky flavour was induced. The cook would break an egg on top of the steaming Maggi, cover with a foil and introduce some smoke under the foil to get a smoked flavour. Needless to sat it was a tasty midnight snack for call centre workers, who had to brave cantankerous customers across the seven seas.
Another interesting dish I have eaten is a salad made by my friend. She would chop some apples, cucumber, tomatoes, add a light dressing of vinegar, soy, sugar, salt, pepper topped with some crunchy, crushed instant noodles. I didn’t know till then that they could taste so good, even when raw.
As the company battles with all the bad publicity it has got, and tries to come clean on the contents of its product, it may be a long time before it makes a comeback on the tables. So what’s going to happen to all those Maggi Points and Cafes?
What dish can replace those instant noodles for instant gratification of hungry souls? Parantha Points, perhaps?