Thursday, November 17, 2011
Asians Like It Hot
If there's one thing that's important about serving food in Japan, it's temperature. As a rule, warm food is served piping hot in Japan (and in most parts of Far East Asia, I think). This is especially important for soup noodles like ramen, as serving less-than-scalding-hot ramen is possibly the greatest imaginable sin known to Japanese culinary culture. (nb. This sin is punishable by ramen hell, where you are forced to eat lukewarm ramen with soggy noodles for eternity. Eternity!) There's even a term for people who can't eat things that are scalding hot. We call them neko-jita, or literally, cat tongue. (Cats can't eat hot foods? I didn't know other animals liked their food hot.) While it's not quite an insult, most cat-tongued people admit to it somewhat apologetically, as if it were something to be ashamed of.
It can get pretty extreme, though. They basically serve everything scalding hot in Japan, including foreign foods that don't necessarily need to be superhot, like pasta. I once burned my entire mouth taking a bite of spaghetti that I didn't expect to be 100 degrees C. How does one even serve pasta that hot? (It didn't even come on those iron plates...just a normal one.)
Anyway, you think I'd learn my lesson, but no. I'm a fast eater by nature (though slower than G and his dad) and I think I most likely will continue to burn my tongue/throat/roof of my mouth eating noodles for as long as I live.