Anneli Rufus of the Huffington Post composed an exhaustingly long article about everyone’s favorite comfort food noodle dish: ramen.
In giving a thorough overview of the food’s origins, Rufus explains that the original name for ramen was shina soba. “Shina” was a phonetic spelling of “China”, while “soba” refers to buckwheat noodles.
Since shina soba was Japan’s most popular Chinese food item, Rufus says, the dish helped reinforce Japan’s expanding empire.
In other words, to eat shina soba in those years was to symbolically gobble up China itself. As China represented the empire’s biggest prize, a bowl of shina soba represented nothing less than world domination.
As time went on, a negative connotation was formed with the phrase shina soba, especially the shina part. The word was gradually phased out, highlighted in 1958 by Nissin Foods’ creation of Chikin Ramen, essentially changing the name of the dish forever.
Read the rest of Rufus’s article over at the Huffington Post to get more of a history of ramen noodles than you probably thought existed.
While her headline of “Ramen is racist” was probably created more to elicit a reaction from readers than from actual truth, what does the noodle dish’s history say? Did eating a bowl of ramen really equate “dominating China”? Weigh in below, don’t be afraid.