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Saturday Soba Party in Japan

by Bob Kerstetter

At a Saturday soba (そば) party in Japan, friends gather to make multiple types of this favorite and nutritious noodle.

Noodle fabricators arrive in the morning to prepare varieties of soba from buckwheat flour and other ingredients. Some of the noodles contain one-of-a-kind components to create gourmet delicacies. Buckwheat flour comes from fruit seeds not cereal grains.

When the noodles are ready, a boiler chef prepares them in wood-heated water. He cooks them for one minute or four—or until they float—as best as we can understand.

Wood Fired Boiler at Soba Party

Other cooks prepare, tempura (てんぷら), fresh vegetables, pickled radishes, wasabi (わさび), sashimi (さしみ) and more. They lay them out on the table.

Laying the Food at a Soba Party

Before the feast the table looks like this. In traditional Japan you sit on the floor to eat. Sitting on your knees or crossed leg on the floor are both acceptable.

Soba Party Food

Sometimes the preparers pause to practice English with the American guests. Some of the people at the party take English classes at a local college.

Visiting in English with an American Guest

Add to the food some Japanese beverages — water (みず), tea (おちゃ), beer (ばくしゅ) and sake (さけ) — plus a lot of good conversation and laughing to create a fun Saturday with friends.

After eating, some gather around the irori (いろり)—Japanese sunken fireplace—to talk while sipping sweet sake.

Sweet Sake Around Irori

A dessert, sweet sake contains water, sugar and ginger, plus a small amount of sake. It tastes great when shared when friends. Because of the water, alcohol content is very low.

Some Japanese Words in the Article

そば – 蕎麦 – Japanese buckwheat noodles.
いろり – 囲炉裏 – Sunken hearth or sunken fireplace.
てんぷら – 天麩羅 – Deep-fried fish and vegetables.
わさび – 山葵 - Japanese horseradish.
みず – 水 – Water.
おちゃ – お茶 – Tea.
ばくしゅ – 麦酒 – Beer.
さけ – 酒 – Alcohol beverage made from rice.
さしみ – 刺身 – Raw sliced fish, shellfish or crustaceans.

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