Thursday, July 29, 2010

Deconstructing the 2-minute noodles

If there’s one food with which I associate my most profound memories, it has to be Maggi! 25 years old and still going strong…this 2-Minute wonder has grown with me (rather most of us, I’m sure!) in its varied garbs - a childhood staple, an instant hunger-fix after playtime, a delight in school tiffin box, a saviour in college canteen, a survival kit in foreign lands, a comfort food for lazy days and a saving grace after a hard day at work!

With a brand new campaign and innovative marketing, things could only get better between ‘me & meri’ maggi. But someone was playing killjoy in this blissful union. Forward emails starting doing the rounds on the internet highlighting the potential health hazards of consuming Maggi. The key points mentioned in the email were that these instant noodles are coated with wax and by cooking it the traditional way; we consume the wax along with it. It also mentioned that the tastemaker contains MSG and when the ingredients in the tastemaker are boiled, the molecular structure of the MSG changes, causing it to be toxic. Therefore, the correct way of making Maggi is to prepare it like hakka noodles - draining water after boiling the supposedly wax-coated noodles and mixing the tastemaker after the noodles are done.

I was heart-broken, totally ! I felt as if a good friend had betrayed me. I tried to ignore, avoid and occasionally snub that old friend for being what it was made out to be. When I couldn’t resist much, I started following the tip mentioned in the email and ended up getting frustrated every time I cooked Maggi since this new process was quite tedious. It was like a love affair gone sour!

The same forward mail landed in my inbox yesterday and this time I decided to give the relationship a second chance. I immediately wrote to consumer services at Nestle about the email demanding an official take on it.I was pleasantly surprised to receive a prompt reply from them clearing the air on the email contents. It turned out that the stated facts were FALSE and our good ‘ol Maggi noodles are as rocking as ever. In public interest, I am appending their reply here...hear it from the horse’s mouth!

Some relationships are meant forever, they say, and I couldn’t agree more today! Maggi, here’s to you and friendship…
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Monday, July 19, 2010

The Luxe carries Hermes

Recently I stumbled on an article in a leading daily on Ms.Ambani's recent public appearance. More than the real issues being discussed in the meeting, it solely focussed on the handbag she carried to the meeting!! Apparently, she was carrying a Birkin as opposed to a Kelly that would have suited the occasion more, as the author presumed. More often than not, media construes too much out of unintentional actions and this to me appears to be one classic example! The author went to the extent of deciphering what must've been going on in her mind, considering the gravity of the occasion that made her choose a Birkin over other handbags as it gives out casual vibes. Much ado about nothing ,I'd say! For all you know, she might have chosen one because a white handbag went well with a pastel pink outfit that she donned :)

When I asked several people whom I consider to have more than a passing interest in fashion if they know the different between a Kelly & a Birkin, I received very different replies. Most of them seemed to be as clueless about this terminology as I was so I decided to take the lead in giving them a heads-up on the who’s who of the luxury bags segment.

Hermès is a brand of luxury goods that specializes in leather, ready-to-wear, lifestyle accessories, perfumery et al. Two of its iconic, limited edition hand-crafted purses are the Birkin bag & the Kelly bag. Each bag is carefully handmade from beginning to end by a single artisan and are distributed to Hermès boutiques on unpredictable schedules and limited quantities, creating scarcity and exclusivity. The waiting list for these bags run into a couple of years. These bags start at about $7,000 and can go well beyond $50,000 (OMG!) depending on hide and hue and are named after a duo of beautiful actresses – Jane Birkin & Grace Kelly respectively. For a celebrity, socialite or fashionista to be seen carrying a Birkin or Kelly is a testimony of her living a good life and that she has ‘arrived’!

But choosing a Kelly over Birkin or vice-versa had always been a subject of debate. May be it is because these handbags are seen more as personal statements rather than fashion accessories. The Kelly remains the classic choice for a formal do and is hugely popular with women who identify themselves with the bag’s muse, Grace Kelly who exuded royalty and refined manners and tastes. On the other hand, the Birkin, designed for the bohemian Jane Birkin, is the pick for the women on the move – casual yet understated.

The choice may be difficult for the yuppies in select social circles where owning a bag that can cost as much as a car is seen a status symbol but not for me, simply because I’ll have to rob a bank to fund even the least expensive one irrespective of what vibe it sends out. Nevertheless, it’s good to stay updated on the things that make a woman’s world go round. So girls, next time someone mentions Hermes, just brag on!!
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