Slurping Culture: Translating Japaneseness to the Dutch Customer through a Warm Bowl of Noodle Soup
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This research describes the everyday lives of a small group of Japanese migrants in and around a ramen shop during a period of three months. The research is conducted in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This sensory ethnography has set out to understand the ways in which Japanese migrants translate a traditional Japanese dish, ramen, to an Amsterdam audience in a restaurant c o n t e x t . Academic literature on food, translation, memory and the senses, together with ethnographic descriptions are the backbone of this anthropological study. Participant observation and informal conversations are the methods used. This research finds that friction is inevitable in the translation process and that making adaptations to dishes is necessary when the Japanese staff is translating ramen to a Dutch clientele. The research demonstrates that the Japanese participants consciously try to preserve a sense of Japaneseness while preparing and selling ramen. It is argued that memory and the senses are crucial in making the translation process complete. The researcher poses a new term for fully understanding the complexities of the translation process: embodied sensory translation.