Just reading it on the menu transported me back 17 years.
Cold Soba Noodles
I sat up on my bedroll in the hostel and glanced at my watch. After a long day sightseeing in the Japanese countryside, our last day, I’d slept through dinner. My stomach told me this was not a good situation.
Luckily, when I connected with the rest of my group downstairs (and yelled at my brother for not waking me up), I found a contingent walking to a convenience store, and I tagged along hoping to find something edible. I pictured the greasy rotating hot dogs at 7-11 and a bag of chips, but I was so hungry that I’d settle for anything.
I should have known better. Food is different in Japan. The convenience store offered an array of healthy prepared foods. I wanted something simple but filling, so I selected some cold soba noodles. Soba noodles are thin buckwheat noodles and can be eaten hot or cold. These came with a sauce and sesame seeds.
We walked back from the convenience store in the dark. I was so hungry. I plopped down on the tatami mat, cracked the chopsticks open, and shoveled cold dark noodles into my mouth. As elevated as the Japanese are about food, they are not so particular about table manners, so my noodle consumption style was entirely appropriate.
In that moment, I hadn’t tasted anything so good. I was still sad about leaving a country I now loved, and nervous about the travel the next day, but at least my tummy was happy.
All this came rushing back when I sat in the Sushi House in Leawood, Kansas. It was a girls’ night out for the moms of littles on our street celebrating the soon arrival of a new baby girl. (Over a dozen new babies on our street since we moved in!)
It’s amazing how a food can conjure up such vivid memories. It’s not just about the physical taste – it’s the experience, the atmosphere, the company.
This bowl of soba had much nicer presentation than a plastic container from a convenience store. I also had some spicy salmon rolls and veggie tempura to round out the meal. The food and the company were wonderful.
A comfort food with some of my favorite people. A flood of memories from a favorite place.