With an increase in interactions with overseas countries and foreign visitors to Japan, there are more volunteering efforts to help foreign visitors to Japan who are unfamiliar with Japanese cultures to have a cultural exchange. The #1 problem that foreign visitors are facing is table manners. It is difficult for them to enjoy the food without knowing table manners. Soba is the second popular Japanese food following sushi, and learning about cultures and customs of soba will make the experience of eating soba even better for the foreign guests.
First things we should learn is to go back to the basics and learn how to make soba. The main ingredient of soba is flour made from soba buckwheat including its skin ground by a stone mill or a mixer. Other ingredients are optional but include wheat flour and Chinese yam. Nihachi soba (two-eight soba) that we hear about quite often refers to the 2:8 ratio of soba and non-soba ingredients.
2.How to eat soba noodles
When eating soba, there are no definite rules, but there is one key point that you should remember. When eating soba noodles that are freshly cooked, some foodies will eat them by themselves without the sauce to enjoy the scent of soba. After they have enjoyed the scent and the firmness of the noodles, they will begin dipping the noodles into the sauce. But there is also another key point here. The sauce often uses tuna and kelp as a base, but some restaurants will have too strong of a tuna base. Foreigners are not used to the taste of a tuna base and cannot enjoy the soba. When that happens, don’t dip soba noodles all the way into the sauce. Just dip a quarter of soba noodles hanging from the chopsticks or add wasabi or spring onions into the sauce to even out the flavors.
3.Soba noodles for longevity and good luck
The most important manner when eating soba noodles is to only take a portion you can eat in a bite. Soba noodles are eaten as a good luck to spend a long and simple life, but when a person bites off the noodles because they weren’t able to fit it in one bite, it doesn’t look too good and is also considered a bad luck. It is difficult to make the slurping sound when eating soba noodles for the first time, so we teach people to take small enough portion that they can eat in one bite. That way, it looks neat.
Top image：Travel Latte
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