Busy Buzzed Bored: Caulifloodles
One crisp autumn day in September, a strange package appeared on the desk of Daily editor-in-chief Maya Goldman. As she unwrapped it, the gift was revealed: A tin of noodles, courtesy of Noodles & Company on State St. Upon further glance, these were not just any noodles. These noodles are noodles for the health conscious, the adventurous. These noodles are made of cauliflower.
Any noodle alternative is cause for concern, as one can never be sure that the holy grail of grains, pasta, can ever be replicated. One would never recognize this concern, however, by observing the reaction of the newsroom to the newly-unveiled noodles. Each section hovered — Opinion, Michigan in Color, Design — everyone needed a peek at the pasta.
And then, of course, we all needed to dig in. We stuck our forks into the gooey, spinach-laced deliciousness, clawing out as much of the pasta as our empty stomachs could handle. A few trips to the mass supply of Michigan Daily microwaves and we were ready. It was time for the caulifloodles.
Nothing can ever replace classic pasta, but it’s not exactly a food you should be eating every day. Cauliflower-infused pasta allows you to indulge in the ideal cuisine, and feel just a little bit better about yourself as you do so.
— Samantha Della Fera, Senior Arts Editor
Look, this is all I know: I’m at the computer, trying to soften the edge with a Wednesday night Corona. I’m clicking on a photo in InDesign repeatedly, hoping that brute force and repetition will solve the problem rather than a simple Google search or, God forbid, phoning a friend. I am a menace when I am in the zone.
100 gecs was playing when Maya got the noodles.
Here is the thing, I guess I was further in the zone (or the beer) than I had thought, because although I vividly recall standing around the aluminum casserole dish with my editors and exchanging so many words about the inordinate quantity of noods before us, I can’t remember what any of them were. Not one. I stood there like a lame duck, vaguely aware that I was about to get free food (!!!!), and then tasked Emma with microwaving it for me while I crawled back to the spinny chair and the big computer and the long job. When they delivered it to me, I made a few clumsy comments about how it may be “Florentine,” recognized I wasn’t contributing much to the conversation, and went back to workflow.
I returned to intelligent sentient being when I had finally finished making the pages, and suddenly realized that everyone around me was talking about cauliflower. And then Emma passed me the press release for the noodles — the noodles have their own press release — titled “Noodles & Company Becomes First Fast-Casual Restaurant to Introduce Cauliflower-infused Noodles Nationwide.” Despite being a terrible headline (“Fast-Casual?” “INFUSED??”), this got my attention. I had no idea of what larger context I had stupidly nibbled into.
Unbeknownst to me, the “Caulifloodle” was born today, September 25th, in 459 Noodles & Company locations nationwide. Look, I just thought it was pasta. From what I can gather from its full-ass press release, the Caulifloode (they insist on capitalizing it every time) was born into relative ambiguity: the release details no specifics regarding to what extent the noodle is “cauliflower-infused,” instead opting to spend their words on puffy statements like “Cauliflower is an excellent source of key vitamins and nutrients ... a great addition to any diet” and “We want to encourage families to make healthy choices and enjoy delicious food.” Cute, but can my violently Celiac co-editor eat it? The world may never know. But you can get it in light onion cream sauce, finished with MontAmoré cheese and parsley.
— Verity Sturm, Managing Arts Editor
Wednesdays are hard. They’re the middle of the week, my class schedule forces me to miss lunch and I have little motivation to finish any homework I may or may not have. Often, the only solace in these bleak days is the occasional release of a new Bon Appétit YouTube video. But the night of Sept. 25 marked a new era. No longer would I have to weigh the pros and cons of paying for another meal or sprinting back to the dining hall. Instead, on this night, I was saved — pasta had been sent from above, dropped in the newsroom fridge by whatever delivery person was working that day.
The miraculous noodles were a far cry from a Molly Baz and Adam Rapoport collaboration on a Broccoli Bolognese, but what they lacked in sophistication they made up for in convenience. Situated on a desk only a few feet away, the noodles occupied a prime spot in the room. Pasta is difficult to ignore in any situation, but when I barely have to walk to obtain it, it’s downright irresistible.
But where did this magical dish come from? Noodles & Company, of course. Recently, though, the nation’s obsession with “being healthy” has prompted the pasta chain to expand on the “company” portion of its name, starting with fondly named “zoodles” (zucchinis shredded to the vague shape of noodles) and, in a twist of fate, “cauliflower-infused rigatoni.” I don’t know what this means, but what I can tell you is that there is little to no cauliflower taste that comes through. Is that a good thing? Only time will tell. An onion heavy dish, the Cauliflower Rigatoni in Light Onion Cream Sauce is exactly what the name suggests. No surprises here, would Chris Morocco be able to tell us how to recreate it after a blind taste-test? Maybe, but more likely than not, whatever he might make up would be leagues better than what Noodles & Company can provide.
But not all of us can be Chris Morocco. And for those days when you want to forget that depressing reality, Noodles & Company’s cauliflower rigatoni is a great way to drown your sorrows. I’m still partial to a spicy Japanese Pan Noodles, though.
— Emma Chang, Senior Arts Editor