Ramen Tour – part I


Ramen Tour apparently has a long history at Ichishi Junior High School. Bob-sensei gave me a heads up last year. Actually I tried to join the tour twice last year, but my strange work schedule always interfered.

Several teachers from the school will get in minivans and drive to eat ramen at a special restaurant. Often the location is one or two prefectures away. I have decided that the track coach, who calls himself Mr. Skinhead or Mr. Skin, is the driving force behind the tour. He was in the hospital because a snowboarder crushed his face while he was skiing. While he was in the hospital there was a noticable absence of tours.

Last night we drove all the way to Gifu (岐阜) for the kick-off of this year’s ramen tour. Every year the same shop, called Viet Cong Ramen, is targeted. Or rather, the new teachers are targeted. Everyone perpetuates a myth that the ramen is spicy because it has a ton of garlic in it. Even Bob bought into the myth.

I actually grabbed the garlic out of my ramen and ate it first before diving into the remainder. Five times as much garlic would have been fine with me. I am quite certain the source of the burning lips and the pecking sensation at the back of our throats was the tougarashi (唐辛子). These are the slender, dark red peppers commonly used in Chinese dishes like Kung Pao Chicken. Generally, throwing whole peppers in while cooking allows a wonderful, spicy flavor to enhance the food; however, last night they were used in an entirely different fashion.

After chopping the peppers into paper thin slices they were cooked into the broth and (only for the beginners, I noted) heaped on top. The oils in the seeds of the peppers, having been released by the thin slicing, made an inedible concoction.

This year, one teacher finished all of his ramen, including drinking the broth. Last year, Bob was “brave” enough to finish all of his as well. I noticed that even the proponents of this torture, with their toned down version, weren’t drinking their broth and I quickly gave up on any attempt to prove myself. I ate all of my noodles and a bit of the rest. When questioned about what was wrong, I said it was fine but I ate too much gyoza and meat earlier. I indeed ate the lion’s share of the abundant appetizers and didn’t require more sustenance (or torture).

Definitely this falls into the category of hazing. I hope I am “in” now.

One Response to “Ramen Tour – part I”

  1. Ramen Tour Reloaded « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] Last year I couldn’t finish the noodles because my mouth was burning. Tonight, I managed to finish off the noodles and meat and veggies, but I was afraid to drink the broth. […]

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