Saturday, October 15, 2005
To slurp or not to slurp?
In Japan, it is manners to slurp your noodles whilst eating. This comes as a surprise to any unsuspecting foreigner who sits down next to a native and hears the emphasised intake of breath as noodles are consumed. The louder the slurp, the better your manners. Now the Japanese generally don't slurp spaghetti. Spaghetti isn't a Japanese noodle so is saved this consumer quirk. The theory goes, that slurping helps cool the piping hot noodles as you eat. I can understand this theory and I feel, as a foreigner, that I have mastered slurping quite quickly. I actually enjoy sitting down to a big bowl of ramen or udon, swimming in their delicious soup. Slurping makes me feel part of the group. My slurping prowess brings me to an incident that happened yesterday. I decided to drop by a local ramen shop (thin noodles in pork broth - originally from China). I was presented with my lunch and reached for my first mouthful with my hashi (chop sticks)... Try to imagine the lovely noodles hovering right before my mouth. Getting closer. Then slurp... wait... choke, choke, cough! I breathed in too hard and not quite in the right way and inhaled my food instead of swallowing it. Not pleasant. As of yesterday I have decided slurping could be detrimental to my own health. Too dangerous. I am going to now be the quiet, not so polite foreigner and eat my noodles in silence.