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Mar 15, 2007 03:28 PM

Question about food etiquette and eating noodles

I think for most Western cultures, it would be considered rude to "slurp" while eating soup noodles (or even non-soup noodles). True?

But I believe the converse is true for most Asian cultures. Many Chinese, for example, consider slurping to be a complimentary sign -- i.e., that the eater thinks the noodles are chowhound-worthy. True?

Why is there a difference (if in fact there is one)?

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  1. I believe that you're right on both counts. I've always understood it to be, in part at least, a function of the actual heat at which the dishes are served. IE, Asian noodles tend to be served very hot (steaming hot, not spicy hot...though that too, at times, obviously) and often in a broth of some kind and the slurping helps cool them while eating them.

    Its entirely possible I'm making this up.

    1. In Asia it is not necessary to slurp and it is unnecessary to not slurp.

      Cultures are dynamic, however, and affluent young people in places like Shanghai, Bangkok and Hanoi are slurping less.

      1. I recall in the movie "Tampopo," an etiquette class is being taught in Japan about eating spaghetti quietly, properly turning the fork and using the spoon to help, eating small bites, etc etc. The group hears loud slurping noises, and sees a foreigner eating spaghetti VERY a result, the group breaks down into a who-can-slurp-the-loudest competition, including the instructor. Amusing scene.

        I slurp my ramen, pho, hot n sour soup, etc when eating in Asian restaurants. I don't in western restaurants. Force of habit maybe?

        1. japan is the country thinking slurping is a complinent about the "noodle soup," i remenber seeing one movie play by tom salleck, he went to play baseball in japan trying to fit in with other japanese baseball player, and he slurped too loud, and everybody was ataring at him

          2 Replies
          1. re: monkfanatic

            I can still remember my introduction to eating noodles in Japan (soup noodles). My host told me that it was OK to slurp. What he meant was that I should not be embarassed if I slurped. It was just a given that some slurping would occur. It did NOT mean that I should make an effort to slurp - that would be taken as poor table manners, whether you were Japanese or Western.

            1. re: ambrose

              absolutely true. if it happens, it happens, but why really make a show of it? some people say its to aerate the noodles or the broth, but why deal with the mess? it just means, take nice hearty spoonfuls or chopstickfuls without being exaggerated. besides, would you want to deal with the ensuing spray all over your shirt? and, btw, noodles are a bad first-date option, no matter what country or cuision your noodles are from!

          2. Not all Asian cultures are the same. In Vietnam, it is considered rude to slurp noodles.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Shazam

              I read it was rude in Korean culture as well.

              1. re: Shazam

                I haven't seen/heard slurping of noodles in Singapore or Malaysia, either. Or Sri Lanka, but Sri Lanka isn't a big noodle country anyway, so...