I have recently had cause to complain to Waitrose. This is the content of my letter. Worth reading if for nothing else but the link to the upcoming Chuckle Brothers tour and the classic noodle joke at the end!
I sent it by email and by post and will let you know if/when I hear back.
FAO Mark Price
Dear Mr Price
Complaint – Udon Noodles
My name is Sophie Fox and I have a complaint to raise about a product purchased in your store.
Before I get to the crux of my complaint I would like to clarify a few things. Firstly, I am a big fan of Waitrose so no need to worry. There is a little one in Manchester near my work and it is lovely. It always has a really good selection of fresh herbs which you don’t seem to be able to find living in a city centre so kudos on that. Secondly, I am slightly disappointed that your name isn’t Mr John Lewis but Wikipedia informs me he died in 1928 so I suppose that would be unrealistic.
I am not a complainer by nature. I know all your complaints probably start this way but this is actually true. It has taken many hours of soul searching to get to the point where I can write this letter and thank you for reading this far.
My complaint relates to the purchase of some “udon noodles”. If you are up on your punctuation you will note that I have used inverted commas, the reason for which will become clear.
Last night I thought to myself “Go on Sophie, you’ve had a busy week and you’ve been spinning once. You deserve a Laksa”. I sautéed crisp onions and sweet red peppers, delicately cooked my prawns until they were pink and juicy and added chilli for extra zing. As the vegetables cooked they spitted and popped around the pan before I enveloped them in an intricate blend of herbs and spices. The smell was incredible. I, slowly, carefully, glugged in the coconut milk and folded everything together. The anticipation was palpable. This was going to be epic. I drained the “noodles”, added them to the bowl and ladled the gorgeous mixture over the top, garnished with fresh coriander and sat down to eat my well-deserved feast. This was it, my first mouthful…
…wait, what is this? Why am I eating pasta?
You probably need to realise that I am a huge fan of the noodle, particularly the udon noodle. In Wagamamas Yaki Udon is my go-to dish. For most people it is the katsu curry and I have tried to vary this once or twice but have come to the realisation that for me, udon is the way forward. Imagine my disappointment when I took my first mouthful to find that I wasn’t eating udon noodles at all but what appeared to be linguine.
O – v – ___
(Cross section of normal udon noodle – v – cross section of Waitrose “udon noodle”/linguine)
Further research into the phenomenon confirms that the udon noodle was invented in 1241 by a chap called Enni who was a Japanese monk. There are several other assertions as to the origin of my favourite food (see relevant Wikipedia page) but all refer to udon as being a thicker noodle.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a linguine but it just wasn’t the udon noodle I had been promised. It just didn’t go.
I am not a traditionalist but certain things are better in pairs. Laurel and Hardy, Bert and Ernie, Whitney and Bobby (ok bad example). Would you go and see one of the Chuckle Brothers if the other one wasn’t there? No, of course you wouldn’t, that would be ridiculous.
Like comedy legends, there are certain foods that belong together. Imagine having spaghetti Bolognese with rice, or salmon with gravy. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
On discovering the renegade pasta, my first thought was to contact a very good friend of mine who happens to be a food scientist and who has spent a large portion of her adult life working with, and talking about, noodles. Prior to raising any complaint I wanted to be sure that I was not being belligerent. My friend informed me that the properties of the udon noodle are such that you are unlikely to get the “starchy goodness” (her words) from a dry noodle. Why then, Mr Price, are Waitrose selling dry “udon noodles”? I can only presume that you do this so that gullible fools like me buy them instead of other noodle brands.
Unfortunately, on this occasion, both I and my prawn laksa paid the ultimate price.
That was maybe a tad dramatic – basically you ruined my dinner.
I shall be grateful if you could clarify your position with regards to the above and confirm that appropriate steps are being taken to re-classify Waitrose udon noodles accordingly. May I suggest a sticker on the front of the packet to the effect of “Caution: Do not expect these to taste like they do in Wagamama”.
I’ll leave you to come up with your own wording but you get the point.
Now to lighten the mood: What do you call a fake noodle? An Impasta!!
Thank you for your attention and I look forward to hearing from you.
p.s. I have lost the key to my post box so please reply via email to ***