On slurping soup

Last updated 09:54 10/07/2014
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SLURP SHAME: Well this guy, circa 1948, even invented a spoon with a propeller to avoid having to noisily cool that delicious liquid down.

Ganesh Raj
SPEAKING UP: Our resident Crimes Against Food writer, Ganesh Raj.
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Does soup slurping offend you?

Yes, it's gross!

Not at all, it shows someone's appreciating a meal

I'm neutral on it to be honest.

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Stand up for your right to slurp your soup.

Everything you've been taught is wrong. You must slurp your soup. It is the vibrant thing to do.

I realise that the enemy here is etiquette. This set of norms and rules that pertain to one's conduct and behaviour when in the company of others. But when it comes to soup, when did etiquette become more important than ingesting and enjoying every morsel of moist magnificence?

It's hard for a Caucasian audience to overcome their early training in table manners, even when knowing that in many Asian cultures slurping is considered the practical, preferred, even polite way to eat the ubiquitous soup. Being comfortable with not knowing what other people are thinking of you at the meal table has been implanted into the psyche of every young child.

Of course if the meal's good, most people are not thinking about you anyways.

Practically, slurping allows the soup to be eaten at its steaming, aromatic best, with the air cooling it before it's swallowed. The soup needs to be delivered to the table quickly, and should be eaten quickly, which encourages the slurp. 

In fact, slurping is a key (and better known) tasting technique when it comes to other foods and drinks.

For wine tasting, the slurp is an established best practice. Generally, slurpers sip the wine while taking in air with it. And aeration is what you are trying to do. The idea is to pull more air over the palate and through the wine so you can better detect its nuances - the predominant fruits, spices, leather, etc., that make each wine unique. 

Olive oil tasting calls for a slurp as well; and any good coffee aficionado will tell you that they lead customers through 
coffee "cuppings" that involve quick slurps of a row of steaming samples. The idea is both to cool the liquid and to better appreciate the taste. This is because there are different centres on your palate that taste different things. When you slurp coffee, it sprays the coffee all over as many different centres as possible. It gives you more flavours at the same time, if that makes sense.

So the next time you're anxious about someone else's opinion of your slurping, remember this. The unhappiest people in the world are the ones that care the most about what everybody else thinks (and they're also the people getting less well-rounded flavours from their food). 

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