Aug 26, 2011

how to enjoy a bowl of noodle (or a cup of tea...)

Let's learn how to enjoy a bowl of noodle from the 1985 Japanese movie Tampopo (or Dandelion). This is not about tea. But it's not totally impossible if you replace the noodle with tea in your imagination :-p

Tampopo is a movie about food. Although the restaurant in the movie is meant to be a "fast food" restaurant (because noodle is often seen as a simple food in Asian cuisine), in relative term, the movie is full of slow food spirit. To prepare for learning how to enjoy a bowl of noodle from this movie, I suggest you to read Alex Zorach's tea blog on Slow Food Movement first.

Here is the IMDB webpage of Tampopo.

Following are some excerpts with a study outline (lines from the movie) on how to enjoy a bowl of noodle, with my very sketchy paraphrasing and translation. Maybe after seeing this, you will be interested in seeing the movie yourself. And maybe seeing the movie will make you want to practice on noodle appreciation yourself :-D

(Images are from the movie and organized by Qing.)

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How to enjoy a bowl of noodle...

First of all, observe the entire bowl of good stuff. You can see all the side ingredients shining on top of the noodle. Be grateful about their look. Savor their aroma.

The diamond-like luster is from the soy sauce pickled veggie. Soon, you can see seaweed gracefully sinking and minced green scallions floating atop.

Next, focus your vision on the three pieces of pork. They are the key figures of the side ingredients, yet they humbly hide behind other things. Now give them a few touches...

Massage pork slices gently with the tips of your chopsticks. Let them unwind. Remember, use the tips of the chopsticks only... gently... till the pork gets relaxed...

Then, gently lift it up, and immerse it in the soup on the right side of your bowl. Here is the most important thing -- give the pork an apology: See you in a moment!

Then, start eating. Eat the noodle first.

While eating the noodle, fix your gaze on the three pieces of pork, affectionately...
 
Then take some pickled veggie, and then eat some noodle. While eating the noodle, you can let some more pickled veggie join the noodle in your mouth.

Next, have some soup, three gulps... Then, sit straight, breathe out, and take another deep breath.

Then, pick up a piece of pork, slowly, as if you are making a very important decision of your life. Next, gently shake it for three times. Like this... just to shake off some water.

Now, you can put the meat into your mouth...

... ...
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I know some of my friends would say, are you kidding me! Who eats noodle like this! Well, if you are a "noodle person" like me, you will understand it. To me, eating a great bowl of noodle is a sacred moment, no exaggeration! Interestingly, when I was very young, I didn't even like noodle very much and thought it was some boring food - until I no longer have chance to eat the best homemade noodle (which is from my mom) every week! Then, every time I go home and enjoy mom's noodle, all its magical features would stand up - the aroma of flour itself, the "al dante", the sensation between teeth in every bite, the heavenly taste of the soup, the moist warmth rising through the top of my head and sinking to my heels... I don't know when I became crazy about noodle. But nowadays, a good bowl of noodle can make me cry...

This is not about tea. But somehow I believe you crazy tea drinkers have your way to feel for the ecstasy of crazy noodle people. The excitement, the gratitude, the apologies, the careful planning, the affectionate gaze, the emotional bondage... I know, you've experienced them all!

7 comments:

CloudMountain said...

If you enjoy noodle movies watch Ramen Girl. :)

Marlena said...

I'm with you. I do it with potatoes, too, I so appreciate them. And homemade applesauce - the whole process from tree to spoon. These things connect us to our ancestors, it is an affirmation of from whom and where we have come. An affirmation of life.

Anonymous said...

Ginko,

I once was in Kyoto on business. I arrived at the museum early and had some time before my appointment, so I decided to have a bite to eat and looked around for a restaurant when I spotted the Park Hotel across the way.

In the hotel restaurant, I scanned the menu and noticed the day's special: a bowl of noodles for about thirty-five American dollars! Intrigued, I ordered a bowl and waited. To my surprise, it was ramen, a Chinese-style, big bowl of noodles chock full of everything that is great, and good, and expensive.

Immediately, Tampopo came to mind and I began nudging the meats, vegetable, and mushrooms down into the broth,only to dredge them up one by one like treasures from the bottom of the ocean. Delicious!

Steve.

Gingko said...

CloudMountain, Thanks for the recommendations! I love it that people make movie about noodle! I read on IMDB page of Ramen Girl someone says it's so cool to finally have an Asian movie which is not about marshal arts or weird gangsters. I totally agree! Wish to see more movies about noodles, teas, or subtle culture things!

Gingko said...

Marlena, I love potatoes too! I've loved it since I was very little. It looks so simple and humble, yet there is a great diversity of cultivars and things that can be made of it! And it's so amicable. I love it in its most forms, whatever cultivar it is, however it's cooked!

Gingko said...

Steve, that's a nice story! I was in Tokyo only once and really want to visit Japan again! I still remember foods and vegetables there amazed me. Even ordinary things like cucumbers and potatoes, Japan has the very elegant versions of them!

It's probably an Asian thing that hotel restaurants are much more expensive than other restaurants :D

Alex Zorach said...

Thanks for recommending my post!

I love this movie, and wholeheartedly recommend watching it. I just had noodles for lunch...I LOOOOOVE this scene in the movie so much. And I really do eat soup like this...setting aside various ingredients to be enjoyed later, combining them, eating them in a deliberate order. So joyful!