An article in the issue of The New York Times dated March 4, 2014 introduces the phenomenon of New York City's proliferating ramen shops under the headline “Ramen’s big splash”.
It contains the following passage:
“Rising like stream from these ceramic bowls is, in short, the city’s movement from hushed fine dining to noisy eat-and-run joints; from subtle flavors to assertive ones; from a dining scene in which pork played almost no role to one in which it was the emperor of meats. This is a lot of cargo for noodle soup. In the end, though, spinning theories about ramen isn’t as much fun as tracking down a great bowl, so that‘s what I’ve been doing lately.”
I don’t understand the meaning of the expression “This is a lot of cargo for noodle soup.” The Concise Oxford Dictionary (10th ed.) defines “cargo” simply as “goods carried commercially on a ship, aircraft or truck”.
What does “this” refer to, and what does “cargo” represent? According to the COD, “cargo” is a countable noun. Is “This is a lot of cargo” grammatically correct?