Rochi had a great time watching me writhe at the noodle shop today as I was surrounded by enthusiastic slurpers today. He says slurping is accepted because noodles are considered low class food and that no one but an absolute slob would ever slurp their green tea or miso soup. I’ve also been told that slurping makes noodles taste better and that it’s to cool them off, although why one can’t blow on them instead of sucking on them is a good question.
And I still don’t really get why they have to be eaten so quickly. The guy sitting next to me today got through a large pile of udon in four bites, six chews per bite. (Rochi counted. I couldn’t watch.) I’ve heard that it’s considered manly to be able to swallow soba noodles without chewing them at all. Rochi says it goes back to an ancient samurai tradition of eating as quickly as possible so one can get back to the more important business of killing people.
I once saw a short film about a guy in New York who loved ramen noodles but just couldn’t stomach the slurping at the local noodle bar, and finally solved the problem by detaching a pair of disposable chopsticks and sticking one in each ear. Now that’s thinking outside the box.