When it comes to noodles, we here at One Green Planet are not discriminatory: we love them all. From deep bowls of Japanese ramen to dishes piled high with Italian spaghetti, we want to try every pasta the world and its varied regions have to offer. However, we also want to do it without offending everyone eating dinner with us.
Noodle etiquette varies from region to region, and a standard awareness of cultural norms (and taboos) will help ensure that you pay the proper respect to the food you’ve been invited to eat. So if you’ve ever found yourself wondering whether you should you twirl, bite, or cut your noodles (or just give up entirely and order a slice of vegan pizza instead), don’t worry — we have you covered.
If you find yourself dining in China, the golden rule is to leave the culinary pageantry behind and get straight to fueling. That means that it’s customary to pick up your noodles with your chopsticks, but you should skip the elaborate twirling if you want to blend in.
Now: to slurp or not to slurp? In China, you can absolutely go ahead and slurp your noodles, but beware of cutting them. On special occasions, like the Chinese New Year, or a birthday, for example, long noodles symbolize longevity in China — just check out the name for these Yi Mein: Chinese Long Life Noodles, pictured above — and cutting them is therefore ominous.
If you want to eat pasta like a true, modern Italian, then ditch your spoon and learn to master your fork — it’s really the only utensil you’ll need. Unlike in China, Italians encourage the art of the fork twirl to gather up your pasta into a little nest, but do not, under any circumstances, use your knife to cut your pasta. In Italy, such an act is considered a culinary sin. You might be given the stink-eye. You’ve been warned.
If you’re eating a pasta dish with ample sauce, like in this recipe for Pasta With White Wine Tomato Sauce, pictured above, don’t fret — you can eat the extra sauce with a spoon, or sop it up with a piece of bread. Just try to use your fork for the actual pasta. Learn to twirl with authority, and all the good bits in the sauce should get wrapped up into your food nest.
When it comes to slurping in Thailand, you’re best off adhering to the old adage: everything in moderation. Yes, you can slurp. No, you can’t do it too loudly without offending someone. Yes, you can take your noodles and eat them on-the-go (many Thai noodle dishes are actually considered street food, after all — just check out this recipe for Street Pad Thai!) but know that when it comes to noodle soups, use the two-hand method: use a porcelain/ceramic spoon in your right hand and a fork in your left. Don’t bother with chopsticks in Thailand unless you’re eating a standalone noodle dish served in a bowl.
Our abridged version of Emily Post’s etiquette policy post is to venture that as long as you’re not just shoving your noodles noisily into your mouth with reckless, saucy abandon, you’re probably eating pasta just fine.
Japan is the loud-eater’s paradise. If you enjoy your food and want to show it by slurping, your appreciative inclinations will be well-received in Japan. Seriously. Slurp your ramen (we suggest this recipe for Creamy Soy Milk Ramen, pictured above). Loudly, and if you can, try to drain out the very last drops of liquid from the bowl if you’re eating a soupy noodle dish. Use chopsticks. Enjoy.
For Japanese noodle recipes, try out this one for Zaru Soba: Japanese Cold Buckwheat Noodles, or this one for Japanese Pan Noodles With Healthier Homemade Teriyaki Sauce.
If you’re interested in more delicious noodle dishes, make sure to check out 15 Vegan Noodle Recipes That Will Give You Life.
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Yi Mein: Chinese Long Life Noodles