Why do Japanese cook the pasta first?

My students swear no one does this, but I’ve both seen it and read about it, and finally find an explanation. According to a story on the originator of Japanese “Napolitan spaghetti” in Japan Times:

“He later supposedly left the pasta for hours after cooking it so that the texture would become more like that of udon noodles suited to Japanese tastes”

 

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Why do the Japanese rub the back of their heads and hiss through their teeth?

This seems such a natural reaction to difficult questions and impossible requests that the Japanese rarely notice that they use it, but it’s definitely more common here than in any other country I know. It’s also much more common among men than women and much more common at work than elsewhere. I think it’s just a consequence of the difficulty of simply saying “No”. Note that sucking of teeth is in no way the aggressive sound it is in some cultures.

Just added to my much expanded Japanese Gestures and Body Language page here.