May 7, 2013

Yes! You can make noises when eating Japanese noodles!

Hi everyone! 

I'm sure almost all the foreigners who are not familiar with Japanese customs are shocked to see the Japanese eating noodles. Why? Because it is a norm here to slurp soba, udon and ramen noodles. (It is considered as a bad manner to make noises when eating spaghetti though.)

Do I make noises? Of course I do, although I'm trying not to slurp when I'm with foreigners. I don't want them to think of me as a barbarian who doesn't care about etiquette at the table. 

When I was living in Paris, I have eaten ramen at a Japanese restaurant only once. Half of the customers were Japanese and the other half were French or the tourists from other countries. When a Japanese man started eating his ramen in a "proper way",  a French mother and her child sitting at the next table looked at him totally in shock, and the mother whispered, "Look. That is such a bad bad manner. You can never eat like him." I felt really embarrassed, but there is nothing wrong with this guy. He just did what all the Japanese do. 

I have no courage to slurp noodles in foreign countries, especially in Europe. But I'm in Japan now. When there's no foreigners around, I slurp to my heart's content. Ah, what a joy! Sometimes I make my shirt dirty with the soup, but who cares!

If you have a chance to eat noodles in Japan,  why don't you try to slurp?  It is something you cannot do in your home country anyway. You might feel like being a bad guy (or a bad girl)! 

This is the ramen of Yokohama-ya, my favorite ramen chain. The tonkotsu (pork marrow bone) based broth makes the soup milky white. The black paper-like thing is nori seaweed.

Today's useful expressions you might use at ramen shops. If you prefer firm noodles, you can say,  めんは かためで おねがいします。 Men wa katame de onegaishimasu.
Meaning is " I want my noodles firm, please".  Katame (= a little firmer)  can be replaced with やわらかめ yawarakame (= a little softer) if you like soft texture. 

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