To: Matmail: My girlfriend contends that Top Ramen is made up of multiple noodles, whereas I maintain that it consists of a single, rather lengthy noodle, which, unfortunately, always seems to break during handling. What is your take? — Marc, the Net
Dear Matt: My girlfriend claims that ripe olives, the black, mild kind, are harvested later than green olives, the more piquant sort. I say the difference is only in how they are cured. Can you set her straight? — Chris in cyberland
Must be food fight season. Hate to see lovebirds break up over minor edibles, so here’s my contribution to domestic harmony. I assume Chris and friend are arguing about the American favorite, the wimpy canned “ripe” olive. It isn’t ripe and it’s barely an olive, tastewise. With minor exceptions, canned California black olives are picked green and processed in diluted lye to remove the natural bitter flavor. Then they’re rinsed, aerated to oxidize the green fruit and turn it brown-black, and treated with ferrous gluconate to fix the color and further reduce the olive tang. I guess Chris’s pal has never tasted a tree-ripened olive. It’ll take the enamel off your teeth. Just as inedible as the raw, green guys.
Marc, I counted ’em myself so I know for a fact there are 80 noodles in a package of Top Ramen. The noodle dough is extruded (squeezed through little holes, 80 of them apparently) in an endless ribbon, then chopped into proper lengths, folded in half end to end, dried, and packaged. And the Ramen folks at noodle central in Fort Lee, New Jersey, think we’re all nuts to bother them with such a ridiculous question.