Students noodle with college classic

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Photo credit: Jerry Nauheim Jr. St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT

Ramen-Off may sound like Russian royalty, but at San Jacinto College Central Campus it involves a new take on a college student culinary classic.

The Sociology and Anthropology Club at Central campus started Ramen-Off this year as a series of three gatherings (Oct. 28, Nov. 11 and Nov. 25) where participants bring their own ramen recipes, and sample dishes brought by others. The recipes offer unique features while making the student staple a healthier meal option.

Sociology professor and club co-adviser Tina Mougouris explained the multiple objectives behind Ramen-Off.

“We’re just trying to encourage people to be creative with their ramen,” Mougouris said. “We are also trying to encourage them to eat healthier. So, we’re trying to do healthy things with ramen.”

Mougouris said interesting new trends involving ramen like the recent opening of a ramen noodle restaurant in downtown Houston inspired the idea. Also, she said ramen noodles are a familiar meal among college students.

“I think every college student recognizes ramen. I mean, it’s a staple for every college student for generations. I remember I would eat it when I was in school because it was cheap and abundant. So, we were able to get access to it.”

Anthropology Professor and club co-adviser Paula Maack said Ramen-Off is a play on words and aims to encourage students to take a common food and make it different. She said the club, in addition to making ramen a healthier meal, wanted to bring new ideas forward and share unique recipes.

Meanwhile, Mougouris offered some insight about how she prepared her own noodles.

“I used to put green onions in it, soy sauce, and I never used the packets because those were supposed to be bad,” she said.

According to Maack, there are 50,000 kinds of ramen offered on Amazon.com. Furthermore, she said it is a popular internet topic complete with dedicated bloggers.

“There are guys that rate the ramen – like which ones are the best, or the 100 top best ramen, and then there is even vegan ramen,” Maack said.

Mougouris said she surveyed her class and found students are familiar with ramen because it is a low-cost food choice.

“During my social inequality (lecture in) class,” Mougouris said, “one of the things we talk about is diet. So, I said ‘if you’re watching your money and you have to feed your family with your limited food budget, what would you buy?’ and everyone goes ‘ramen!’ Then they all start comparing prices.”

Maack said students are in charge of Ramen-Off, and it is something different they all enjoy doing.

“Students are the ones that get it going. We just try to keep track of everything,” she said. “It’s also that opportunity to create something and have fun.”