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Why the Japanese slurp their noodles

E Eto Jun 8, 2011 12:12 AM

Recently on a variety TV program here in Japan, there was a segment on eating habits of Japanese viewed from a foreigner's perspective. On a "gaijin" panel (with representatives from all the major continents), they all rallied on the question, why do Japanese make so much noise when eating noodles? The Japanese host asked them, "how do you eat Japanese noodles?" In a video demonstration, they were all presented with a bowl of ramen and they all ate it quietly, biting mouthfuls of noodles instead of slurping. This video was presented to random Japanese and "gaijin" on the streets of Tokyo, and of course, the responses were vastly different. The main Japanese comment was, "they don't eat it deliciously" or "it doesn't look delicious the way they eat it." So, maybe it's an emotional connection, was the first conclusion. Sound must convey deliciousness to the Japanese.

One "gaijin" responder mentioned, if someone would just tell me why I should slurp my noodles, I would do it. So back to the panel of gaijin, as they were asked to slurp their noodles, and interestingly, many of them were physically unable to, some coughing as they sucked some soup down their sinuses, or having a clump of noodles stuck in mid-slurp. So, maybe gaijin just aren't very practiced at slurping as it takes a certain skill.

Then the scientific expert was brought in to explain some things. First, "deliciousness" is conveyed by the sound of slurping, and further, slurping does in fact make the noodle taste better. In a graphic, the expert showed how wine connoisseurs gurgle wine, sucking air through their mouths to force air into the nasal passage, allowing the flavors to spread. The concept is the same with slurping noodles. The flavors of the noodles and soup are multiplied when slurping. The gaijin panel as well as the Japanese host and observers had their "aha" moment and the gaijins decided they would practice slurping.

So, the lesson is slurp away. Especially if you want to maximize the deliciousness.

  1. j
    joonjoon Jun 13, 2011 01:16 PM

    Slurping makes a HUGE difference in flavor with soba in tsuyu. Give it a try and you'll know why slurping wins.

    2 Replies
    1. re: joonjoon
      Silverjay Jun 13, 2011 01:38 PM

      Great point. I actually think slurping affects the taste of chilled or room temp noodle dishes like soba, hiyashi chuka, et al more than hot ones.

      1. re: Silverjay
        j
        joonjoon Jun 13, 2011 02:40 PM

        I agree. It doesn't seem to make as big of a difference with hot noodle soups as it does with cold tsuyu. I also love slurping red bull. Really opens up the flavor.

    2. K K Jun 11, 2011 09:48 PM

      There is definitely something primal and fundamental about this, much like eating with your hands that has been part of our childhood but different. Remember your first or early experiences with spaghetti? Assuming your parents didn't cut them up to avoid choking, most of us probably slurped one long strand up slowly as it was fun. Some of us probably held the spaghetti with our hands at the same time.

      Or whether it is tastier to suck up your popsicle, ice cream bar, versus licking it.

      There's also something about the slurping sound that appeals to some or creates more stimulus or stimuli to the enjoyment.

      They use it in advertising too

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWbA-Y...

      Just for the hell of it, I paid extra attention to the way I ate some supermarket dried soba noodles (made them cold for dipping) last night at home. Did loud slurping, quiet slurping, slurping while keeping mouth opening small to accomodate 2 noodle strands or so, and tried slurping with opening mouth a bit wider, no slurping but using chopsticks to help push more noodle in, and no slurping but taking small bites. Let's just say they are all different experiences. The least delicious was obviously taking small bites, no slurping, and by that I mean the amount of texture felt in the mouth and amount of dip sauce savored.

      2 Replies
      1. re: K K
        s
        Steve Jun 12, 2011 08:21 AM

        Some people chew their ice cream, taking bites out of a popsicle or an ice cream cone like it's a hot dog.

        1. re: Steve
          Jay F Jun 12, 2011 11:50 AM

          I chew on popsicles. I've been eating Edy's Lime Bars lately, and I noticed after reading this that I neither suck nor lick, but bite.

      2. J.L. Jun 10, 2011 06:50 PM

        When socially acceptable, I like to slurp the noodles when hot; I find that it cools them down a bit.

        The questions is relative:

        Where non-Japanese are asking why the Japanese slurp their noodles, the Japanese are asking the rest of the world why they're NOT slurping their noodles...

        2 Replies
        1. re: J.L.
          b
          bulavinaka Jun 11, 2011 07:31 AM

          And why are such crude and intimidating tools such as knives present at the table? :)

          1. re: bulavinaka
            J.L. Jun 11, 2011 11:03 AM

            So desu ka.

        2. n
          nooyawka Jun 10, 2011 06:26 PM

          The slurping of noodles is entirely contradictory with their other eating practices where form and manners rule the day. If the appearance of joy is so important when eating noodles, why then are they so rigid when it comes to other eating habits, such as knowing how to hold and grasp the chopsticks, how to pick them up and to place them down, etc.? By the way, I am not Japanese, nor have I ever been to Japan. I learned this from watching videos and from reading. Am I misinformed?

          5 Replies
          1. re: nooyawka
            c
            Chowrin Jun 10, 2011 07:08 PM

            yes, and no. Watch Fate/Stay Night. It provides an example that eating quickly and thoroughly, and celebrating the chef with gusto is a large part of japanese meals (and how you thank the chef) -- also a standard way of representing Genki characters, as opposed to Moe characters. [both of which are considered reasonably "culturally acceptable", imho]

            about the only time "quiet and reverent" applies to food is the tea ceremony, and that's almost to the point of religious ritual. [I'd cite an anime, but I forget which one does it best.]

            1. re: Chowrin
              Silverjay Jun 10, 2011 07:17 PM

              What are "genki" and "moe" characters? That only barely makes sense in Japanese, let alone English...The only people I ever hear who bring up tea ceremony are non-Japanese. Kaiseiki, high-end sushi, and other refined sub-cuisines all have quiet and reverent dining styles in Japan. But in general, there's no more rigidness in Japanese dining custom than there is in any other culture's dining custom. Noodle places in Japan are basically considered very informal and slurping is just an accepted practice. It's not meant as an expression of appreciation to the chef or to other patrons as much as it is one person hunkered down over their own bowl. People in the U.S. have this impression of the Japanese as very refined and mannered- which in general, is true. However when it comes to dining custom, especially those with street, urban, or simply informal origins, this is not the case.

              1. re: Silverjay
                c
                Chowrin Jun 10, 2011 07:41 PM

                well, as to what I mean, watch Kiddy Grade. two protagonists. they also eat rather differently, as well. Genki is a standard Trope term, used in gaming/tv/hentai... Moe apparently has gotten too big to be what I was referencing.
                and of course my grammar sucks! ;-)

            2. re: nooyawka
              E Eto Jun 10, 2011 08:46 PM

              I'd say you're mostly misinformed.

              1. re: nooyawka
                thew Jun 12, 2011 01:19 PM

                how is it contradictory? it is a "rule" just as rigid as all the rest

              2. s
                Steve Jun 10, 2011 08:14 AM

                I think the key here is taking in air. No matter what the food, everything is more delicious if you can eat with your mouth open a bit. If you are very strict about keeping your mouth fully closed during every bite, I don't think you can enjoy the food as much.

                Great example about the wine.

                8 Replies
                1. re: Steve
                  penthouse pup Jun 10, 2011 08:23 AM

                  On the other hand, tasting cognac, armagnac and calvados involves swishing the spirit in a closed mouth (something Marc Ribot, owner of Caves Auges, the oldest wine store in Paris, told me many years ago.)

                  1. re: penthouse pup
                    inaplasticcup Jun 10, 2011 08:28 AM

                    Interesting theories - in either case, it seems to be about aeration...

                    Maybe we should chew up our noodles and swish them with our mouths closed.

                    :|

                    1. re: penthouse pup
                      b
                      bulavinaka Jun 11, 2011 07:25 AM

                      Anything as potent as those liquors would require aeration with a closed mouth. To do it as done with wine (or noodles) would result in a very unpleasant experience.

                    2. re: Steve
                      Jay F Jun 10, 2011 09:28 AM

                      I'm going to have to observe myself more closely as I eat. I can't believe I have been doing something for so long that prevents me from fully enjoying what I eat.

                      1. re: Steve
                        Jay F Jun 10, 2011 06:43 PM

                        I tried it. I ate chili w/sour cream and cheddar cheese twice today by slurping it and eating it with my mouth open. It made not one iota of difference in how it tasted. It just made me laugh to be doing such a silly thing. It's such an unnatural thing for me to do, eat with my mouth open. Perhaps not too oddly, slurping doesn't sound as bad when I do it as it does when you to it.

                        I will continue to enjoy my food just fine with my mouth closed, but thank you for the interesting meal.

                        1. re: Jay F
                          b
                          bulavinaka Jun 11, 2011 07:28 AM

                          It's good to experiment but in doing so, I'd try the noodles - long steaming hot noodles in a broth. Doing it with chili - basically a dense glob - won't replicate the results you wish to discern.

                          1. re: bulavinaka
                            Jay F Jun 11, 2011 07:35 AM

                            I'm not eating noodles much these days, as I'm pre-diabetic, but I'll keep that in mind. Thanks.

                            1. re: Jay F
                              b
                              bulavinaka Jun 11, 2011 08:29 AM

                              Certain foods and drinks are much more conducive to this type of tasting technique. As others have mentioned, wines are dissected on the palate and in the nose in a very similar manner. Liquids, foods based in liquids, and of course, food you won't choke on if you perform this technique (rice, beans - you're a brave soul! - etc.). Think along those terms and I think your experiments will pan out more discerning results.

                      2. penthouse pup Jun 9, 2011 04:25 PM

                        I was the "someone" who mentioned Tampopo...and my response concerned proffered cultural explanations--not that I agreed with them, just relayed them. No one followed up on this--and so, I wonder whether slurping is a distinctive alimentary activity in other cultures that hold hot/cold noodles in high regard: Italy? Malaysia? Singapore? China? USA? Vietnam? We all agree that Japanese etiquette allows for slurping so what about other noodle-happy cultures?

                        23 Replies
                        1. re: penthouse pup
                          Jay F Jun 9, 2011 04:54 PM

                          Slurping Italian food? Not unless you want your head handed to you.

                          USA? NO SLURPING. Thank God.

                          I'd rather eat in another building than listen to mouth noise.

                          1. re: Jay F
                            penthouse pup Jun 9, 2011 05:28 PM

                            Your response begs the obvious question--why? Why is "mouth noise" in certain parts of the US (or among certain groups in the US) considered uncouth? (The same goes for eating with mouth wide open?) It's a tricky avenue to maneuver...

                            1. re: penthouse pup
                              thew Jun 9, 2011 05:33 PM

                              its clearly culturally arbitrary.

                              1. re: thew
                                penthouse pup Jun 9, 2011 05:38 PM

                                I always enjoy reading your comments (especially since we both share Italian Village lineage) but what does "culturally arbitrary" mean? If you mean that certain cultures do things one way, and others another way in a "arbitrary" manner, I think you're taking the easy way out...(NB-- I don't pretend to have answers, but cultural differences are identifiable and meaningful.)

                                1. re: penthouse pup
                                  thew Jun 9, 2011 05:57 PM

                                  clearly identifiable. sometimes meaningful, often not. but what i meant was that from someone in a culture that defines such sounds as rude, a reaction like Jay f's is understandable - but it isn't some absolute of revulsion like, say coprophagia. A japanese person does not find those sounds so repulsive as to prefer to " eat in another building than listen to mouth noise."

                                  1. re: thew
                                    penthouse pup Jun 9, 2011 06:04 PM

                                    Don't mean to go on and on--but it's a question worth thinking about (and I wasn't at all denigrating J F--if anything, I have a similar response to the open mouth chawing--it's just an interesting question to ask ourselves why certain culinary behaviors (and preferences) exist and whether there's something we can point to that goes beyond the surface observation...

                                    1. re: penthouse pup
                                      thew Jun 9, 2011 08:44 PM

                                      i did not think you denigrated anyone nor did i intend to - i only used JF as an example (hence the "like") as it was strong and right there..

                                      why a culture says it does something, and why it actually does it are usually 2 different things - eg the ritual reasoning for rules of kosher vs anthropological reasoning for the rules, etc. or in this thread the claim that it changes the deliciouness vs my possible explanation of temperature control.

                                      1. re: penthouse pup
                                        c
                                        Chowrin Jun 10, 2011 06:50 PM

                                        So some cultures think you should fart openly after eating (sign of liking the food).
                                        Is this knowledge enhanced by an understandingof how much they eat beans?
                                        probably not, as many cultures that eat beans don't fart openly.

                                        1. re: Chowrin
                                          r
                                          ricepad Jun 10, 2011 11:02 PM

                                          I call "bullshit" on your farting claim. Citations?

                                          1. re: ricepad
                                            sunshine842 Jun 11, 2011 01:14 AM

                                            I've heard it's okay to belch, but never an okay on farting. 2nd on the bs.

                                            1. re: ricepad
                                              RUK Jun 18, 2011 02:37 PM

                                              Martin Luther's remark about this subject is well known.....:-) although it is not polite to do so nowadays.
                                              http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/pda/A35...

                                              1. re: RUK
                                                sunshine842 Jun 18, 2011 02:39 PM

                                                and bullshit on their comment about it being okay to burp at the table in the American South. Not true, not ever.

                                                1. re: RUK
                                                  r
                                                  ricepad Jun 18, 2011 06:57 PM

                                                  Hardly a reliable citation.

                                              2. re: Chowrin
                                                inaplasticcup Jun 11, 2011 06:27 AM

                                                I believe that in the vast realm of human experience, there very well could be a culture (or 2) that thinks farting in public (and even its aftereffects) is good - for whatever reasons they may have.

                                                Chowrin, would you please tell me where they live and remind me never to travel there?

                                                1. re: inaplasticcup
                                                  b
                                                  bulavinaka Jun 11, 2011 07:21 AM

                                                  My bloatingly gastrous son would have the opposite opinion of you. I'm getting him a one-way ticket as soon as this knowledge is obtained...

                                                  1. re: bulavinaka
                                                    inaplasticcup Jun 11, 2011 08:01 AM

                                                    Haha. I give him a week before he begs for a bottle of Beano and a return ticket.

                                      2. re: penthouse pup
                                        DreamCyn Jun 9, 2011 06:14 PM

                                        I agree. I hate it when my partner chews with his mouth wide open, but I love it when he slurps his food. To me it conveys that he likes it so much that he's eating it quickly and isn't paying attention to the noise.

                                        I'd always heard that there's a similar belief in Japan; that slurping your noodles showed the chef that you were enjoying them.

                                        1. re: penthouse pup
                                          Jay F Jun 10, 2011 06:22 AM

                                          Why? I just hate the sound of it.

                                          I encountered it in members of my own race, religion, social class, and part of the US long before I met anyone Asian.

                                          I have two very good friends who sound like the Simpsons when they eat. They both slurp their coffee and eat with their mouths open. Neither has any respiratory or allergy problems that make them mouth breathers; it just happens while they eat.

                                          I told one of them about it when he was trying to interest investors in a business deal and was doing lots of dinners and lunches. He said he had no idea. No one had ever told him before, including his parents when he was little (he said he *thought* they ate the same way, but had never actually noticed, or even thought about it). He thanked me for telling him, and it turned out that one of the investors was the next person he ate with.

                                          Now that I think about it, he was not from the exact same background as I. He was from the South, where his parents owned a farm. I was a suburbanite from the Northeast.

                                          My other friend is Jewish. I was brought up Catholic. It's hard for me to imagine this makes a difference.

                                          1. re: Jay F
                                            thew Jun 10, 2011 06:25 AM

                                            it's hard to imagine it makes a difference because we are so immersed in our own cultural mores they seem innate, and not learned.

                                            1. re: thew
                                              Jay F Jun 10, 2011 06:41 AM

                                              So you're saying there are "Jewish table manners," "Southern farm boy table manners," and "Irish (and other) Catholic table manners"?

                                              1. re: Jay F
                                                thew Jun 10, 2011 06:51 AM

                                                we were discussing japanese slurping noodles - so lets stay with that. let me be clear - i fnd nothing wrong with your aversion to the sound, nor do i find anything wrong with the japanese preference for slurping noodles. as i said i only used you as an example because your statement was so strongly worded.

                                                all i was saying is that the revulsion you feel is not biologically inherent, it is learned behavior.

                                                but if i must, can i (being jewish it comes naturally) respond to your question with a question - do you believe there is no difference between cultural mores and what is considered polite in a patrician family in charleston, and say a working class jewish family in new york? I'd say they view what is acceptable and what is not differently. Probably less differently than either is from japanese manners, as an example, but certainly not identical.

                                                1. re: thew
                                                  c
                                                  Chowrin Jun 10, 2011 07:01 PM

                                                  American table manners are devolved "royal" table manners. lazing about, taking your time to eat, and looking more mannerly than the bourgeosie and especially the peasants.
                                                  That, and many find the look of chewed food disgusting.

                                                2. re: Jay F
                                                  inaplasticcup Jun 10, 2011 06:56 AM

                                                  I think the short answer to your question is YES. Only replace "Jewish" with "European" (Western) and "Southern farm boy" with "Asian".

                                                  The Japanese people as a whole are exceedingly polite and aware of social graces, and even so, the slurping is considered socially acceptable when all other manners are being observed because it is apparently rooted in some considered philosophy about the enjoyment of food or expression of gratitude. Not because they're uneducated about etiquette. It's not just coarse or country folk who do it.

                                                  Koreans (in Korea) almost always point with their middle fingers, and we all know what that means here...

                                      3. h
                                        HLing Jun 8, 2011 01:19 PM

                                        One can reap the benefit of inhaling the aroma and eating at the same time without making the noise actually. The silent slurp. ;)

                                        1. arktos Jun 8, 2011 09:36 AM

                                          Was this an upcoming' COOL JAPAN' episode??

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: arktos
                                            E Eto Jun 8, 2011 09:46 AM

                                            No, it's a show called Takeshino Nippon no Mikata (たけしのニッポンのミカタ), hosted by Beat Takeshi and Taichi Kokubun (of the band Tokio).
                                            http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp/mikata/

                                            1. re: E Eto
                                              huiray Jun 18, 2011 07:59 AM

                                              I guess you mean the May 6 episode? http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp/mikata/backnumber/110506.html or http://translate.googleusercontent.co...

                                              Is the video of that segment of the episode available somewhere? :-)

                                          2. Monica Jun 8, 2011 09:30 AM

                                            no, i won't slurp my noodle. i don't know how to and it's not something i want to learn. =p

                                            1. b
                                              beevod Jun 8, 2011 09:10 AM

                                              Perhaps they think it's sexy.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: beevod
                                                inaplasticcup Jun 8, 2011 09:13 AM

                                                I've heard stranger things, beevod...

                                              2. l
                                                Leadmine Jun 8, 2011 09:09 AM

                                                Thought it had to do with bad luck if you bite and break the noodle, since the noodle represents long life. Multiplying deliciousness sounds like hogwash to me.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: Leadmine
                                                  E Eto Jun 8, 2011 09:18 AM

                                                  The bad luck thing is probably more Chinese custom than Japanese custom. Never heard of that with biting/breaking noodles in Japan.

                                                  1. re: Leadmine
                                                    d
                                                    DeppityDawg Jun 10, 2011 06:54 PM

                                                    Option 1: They slurp their noodles because they believe it tastes better that way. Option 2: They do it because they believe it makes them live longer. One of these sounds more like hogwash than the other...

                                                    1. re: DeppityDawg
                                                      inaplasticcup Jun 11, 2011 07:58 AM

                                                      It's not necessarily a sincere belief that it extends life as much as it is a preservation of the symbolism of long life. A lot of etiquette is rooted in symbolism rather than practicality. :)

                                                      1. re: inaplasticcup
                                                        l
                                                        Leadmine Jun 14, 2011 05:15 AM

                                                        ^ Agreed. And checked my sources and E Eto is right on with the fact that the long life/noodle relation is a Chinese tradition. Good call.

                                                        1. re: Leadmine
                                                          b
                                                          bulavinaka Jun 14, 2011 09:35 PM

                                                          Longevity noodles are a Chinese tradition.

                                                  2. K K Jun 8, 2011 08:16 AM

                                                    I'm curious if they slurp their noodles when eating say stir fried noodles along the lines of yakisoba or fresh pasta dishes at an Italian restaurant (or wafu pasta place).

                                                    In Hong Kong there is a street food the locals call ju cheung fun, which is essentially a thinner tubular version of dim sum cheung fun, but has no meat or condiments inside the steamed rice crepe rollades. The freshly made ones are slippery smooth in texture once mixed with sauces, and while it is considered rude and to be of low class, it is actually best enjoyed if you slurp it (although with all those sauces mixed in it will get messy), as you actually get the mouth feel experience on the way in.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: K K
                                                      E Eto Jun 8, 2011 09:15 AM

                                                      I think the common rule is, when you can slurp, you should slurp, except when common courtesy or local custom suggest otherwise. Since someone brought up the movie Tampopo, there was a great scene with an etiquette instructor teaching a group of young women how to eat pasta at an Italian restaurant. "Eat it quietly... quietly as possible" was her rule. Except there was a "gaijin" at the other end of the restaurant making all kinds of slurping noise, enjoying his pasta. After a brief moment of cognitive dissonance, the young women eschewed the instructor's rule and attacked their noodles with abandon, slurping and enjoying their pasta. I admit, I slurp my pasta with chopsticks when I eat at home. Forks just aren't made for slurping.

                                                    2. Monica Jun 8, 2011 07:27 AM

                                                      The only reason why i wouldn't slurp is because slurping makes noodle and the sauce splash more to my clothes.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: Monica
                                                        E Eto Jun 8, 2011 09:00 AM

                                                        That just means you need to practice your slurping skills. Or use a bib.

                                                        1. re: E Eto
                                                          inaplasticcup Jun 8, 2011 09:03 AM

                                                          I am all about bibs. I wish they were more fashionable (other than at the crawfish joint).

                                                          When I worked in an office, on the days we'd go to eat pho, I used to bib myself with a napkin if I was wearing white. Sriracha stains are such a PITA...

                                                          1. re: inaplasticcup
                                                            EWSflash Jun 9, 2011 07:36 PM

                                                            +1- it makes it a real challenge if you're a busty female.

                                                            1. re: EWSflash
                                                              inaplasticcup Jun 10, 2011 07:11 AM

                                                              LOL. :P

                                                            2. re: inaplasticcup
                                                              Debbie M Jun 13, 2011 07:41 PM

                                                              One of my must-visit places on Tokyo trips is Konaya, for awesome curry udon. They have nice, large paper bibs at every place setting. which really are necessary. Slurp or don't, long thick strands of udon coated with curry sauce will leave their mark.

                                                            3. re: E Eto
                                                              Monica Jun 20, 2011 06:28 AM

                                                              haha, I do not wish to practice slurping. I can live without it.

                                                            4. re: Monica
                                                              j
                                                              jman1 Jun 17, 2011 11:28 PM

                                                              I don't slurp. I always make mess when eating soup noodles or even soba with dipping sauce. Will I make less of a mess if I learn to slurp?

                                                              BTW, always thought that they slurping had to do with the noodles being too hot (it was postulated to me as a cause for high incidence of esophageal cancer in Japan). No evidence given. And, also had to do with not wanting to cut/bite/break the noodles, which seems to be a fairly universal taboo (in Italy too).

                                                            5. Silverjay Jun 8, 2011 07:25 AM

                                                              Haha. I would love to see that show. Myself, I was told by Japanese friends from the very beginning when I went to Japan that it makes them taste better.

                                                              1. thew Jun 8, 2011 07:23 AM

                                                                it cools hot noodles

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: thew
                                                                  Monica Jun 8, 2011 07:28 AM

                                                                  lol..what about when eating cold noodle..does slurping warms the cold noodle?

                                                                  1. re: Monica
                                                                    E Eto Jun 8, 2011 09:04 AM

                                                                    Same principles apply for cold noodles, like soba or somen. Perhaps even more, since cold noodles don't have the help of steam to work its way into the olfactory receptors. Give slurping a chance if you care about flavor.

                                                                  2. re: thew
                                                                    inaplasticcup Jun 8, 2011 07:34 AM

                                                                    I've heard or read the same. Which makes sense, because noodles in hot broth get soggy quickly, so waiting for them to cool is not the best option.

                                                                    I'm not a slurper though.Having lived in the US since I was 5, it is etched into my psyche that making noise while eating is rude and detracts from others' enjoyment of the meal (as a result, I tend to agree). I usually blow on the noodles to cool them.

                                                                    But I can see how slurping just sounds delicious. (Unlike chewing food with your mouth open. :|)

                                                                  3. penthouse pup Jun 8, 2011 07:18 AM

                                                                    I asked several Japanese friends this question 25 years ago or so (after seeing Tampopo)...they thought it had something to do with residual cultural memory of hunger in the aftermath of WW II.
                                                                    Not sure they would say that today but...

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: penthouse pup
                                                                      EWSflash Jun 9, 2011 07:33 PM

                                                                      I love your answer- i really despise mouth noises while eating, and have been dreading that aspect of dining in Japan (not that I have a trip planned yet). This is the only thing i"ve ever read that validates it. But it needs to stop *laughs to self*

                                                                      1. re: EWSflash
                                                                        c
                                                                        Chowrin Jun 10, 2011 06:46 PM

                                                                        it's like farting. you do it where it is polite. Or you avoid cultural exchange because you can't stand to bend a little.

                                                                        1. re: EWSflash
                                                                          c
                                                                          Chowrin Jun 10, 2011 06:57 PM

                                                                          if you do go to japan, please order your noodles to go? eat in your hotel room, where you won't be insulting/dishonoring the chef, and you can enjoy your food in peace.

                                                                          1. re: Chowrin
                                                                            EWSflash Jun 18, 2011 07:11 PM

                                                                            I was joking, Chowrin.

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