Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Flying Soba Monster!

No. This post has no connection to The Flying Spaghetti Monster and everything to do with Japanese interrogation through subtle force feeding and extreme hospitality!

Yes, extreme hospitality! The kind of hospitality that would drive you to imagine such excuses as, "I couldn't sleep very well last night because of unmentionable reasons that may or may not have to do with things that I can't explain because I am really just making things up," or possibly, "I think I left my blender on" just so you could leave the party early and maybe have a chance to catch a short nap before your stomach and intestines explode in a way that normally happens behind closed doors and not in a strangers living room. This kind of hospitality drives normal well adjusted people to wish they were maladjusted with no friends and lived in a shack in the woods. This is Japanese hospitality.

Let me start at the beginning. My fellow ALT and I were invited to a soba making party. Soba, as some of you know, is buckwheat. Not one of my favorite bland cardboard-esque noodles but in small helpings can be quite filling and easily digestible. One medium sized bowl of soba is in itself a filling and complete meal. This was my believe before I ate enough soba to choke a horse anyway. Now, I believe I will never enjoy soba in any shape or form for the rest of my life. Even seeing the word stirs memories of twenty course meals of soba chips, raw soba with soy sauce, deep fried soba, and soba pudding. After the pudding was served my memory becomes a little fuzzy which I account to the pain induced from putting 40 lbs of soba in a container designed to hold 9 lbs at most (this container of course being my stomach).

Early in the afternoon of the now infamous Ten Levels of Soba Hell Day we headed over to the Soba Master's house so we could help him make the noodles from scratch and experience a little Japanese culture. It turns out making soba is about as hard as eating it! After kneading a lump of soba dough about the size of my head to the point that it is hard enough to break a car window (which according to the Soba Master the hardness is directly related to how much water remains in the dough with less water equaling a better, lighter, taste) you have to roll it out till it is as thin as a one yen coin (about a penny's width). With five grown men working on this black hole of soba mass I still believe the soba came out 0 for 10 with possibly two TKOs!

Never fear though for humans rarely stay down when beaten! With our losses behind us we reach for our best offense; weaponry. A soba knife is a magnificent weapon and one I would most likely choose if say the residence of Tokyo were taken over by mind controlling soba monsters and I had to hack my way to safety. The Soba Master wielded his weapon of choice with the finesse of a thousand generations of samurai warriors which in turn made me look like I couldn't find my own butt with both hands. Chalk one more up for The Great Soba Monster!

After shredding the soba into small enough pieces to handle one on one we retired into the living room. Now on to the hospitality! After divvying the drinks out and the obligatory toast the fruits of our labor was dished to us in every shape and form. I couldn't be more wrong is saying that we had finally defeated the Soba Monster and were enjoying the feast of it's remains. The facade of satisfaction quickly fell after the fifth serving of sobaic concoctions. The revenge of the Soba Monster from being kneaded, squished, and cut into small strips was palpable in every sense of the word. Once inside its host the Soba Monster will start to expand and grow. It will then call to its Japanese slaves demanding more of its brethren be brought out and added to its ranks. Once hole again in the host's stomach it returns to its original car window shattering strength and beats the host until they are lain prone in a most embarrassing splayed position.

Typical Soba Monster victim.

Now the thing about Japanese hospitality is that it is strongest when you are at your weakest. Once in the splayed position with no energy left to digest let alone ingest the Japanese hostess will pounce! They know your weakness of gratitude and will exploit it till you have eaten every last piece of food in their arsenal. Try to imagine committing suicide by holding your breath and you will begin to grasp how difficult it is to refuse food that is being offered by a Japanese hostess. A typical offering of food in Japan goes something like this. Japanese Hostess: “Here is some soba pudding!” Me: “Oh, looks good, but no thank you, I am very full!” JH: “Soba pudding is very good!!” Me: “Yeah, it sure looks good, but no thank you.” JH: “SOBA...PUDDING...GOOD!!!” Me: “I'm just...” JH: “You don't like soba? It's too salty? It's too sweet? You can't eat soba at all?!?” Me: “No, really, I like soba but...” JH: “I knew it! Foreigners can't handle soba. Would you like some more rice?” At this point I recommend feigning death and hoping they don't bury you so that they can dig you up and eat you later on. Oh, wait that's for black bears. Well, I think it might be your best bet in this situation too.

By the end of the night after I had explained that I wasn't dead and that I was just very sleepy I was driven home in a catatonic soba induced haze. I still believe the boss (I have multiple) who drove me home refuses to speak to me again for fear I will tell him more truths of my childhood that include barbwire fences and close call losses of manhood which I may or may not have spilled thinking I was being interrogated by the Japanese Soba Police for crimes against hospitality. Come to think of it I never saw our host eat a single piece of Soba.


rudeces said...

Du hasst
Du hasst soba!Ja!Ja!

Where can I buy a facehugger? Say HI! to everybody.
Ja! Ja!

Jonathan said...

We miss your parents. Can you send them back to us please!

Shamalama said...

Putting them on a plane tomorrow Jonathan.

Are you ready to sit through a 1000 plus picture slide show of our adventures here?

hassane said...


Oh my goodness, you got me laughing all the way to the rice bar. Seriously, substitute Rice or cassava for Soba and you've described our life here in Guinea.

All this hospitality is touching but exhausting, not to mention fattening. I, for one, am tired of being "hospitibalized."

I'm looking forward to re-learning how to live without being taken care of. How will I manage cooking and shopping? What about peeling an orange or preparing my bath water? Washing my hands without help? Are there special re-hap centers to help people like us readjust to life after extreme hospitality?!!

Annie said...

Hey, that last comment was mine! Not some guy's named hassane. I'm at a cybercafe right now and some dude named Hassane didn't sign out of gmail.

See? People are all over me, crowding me, cramping my style, forcing rice and passwords down my throat.

Shamalama said...

It is a slow and embarrassing process, but yes you will one day be able to wipe your own ass again!