七夕 Tanabata: Japanese Star festival on July 7th (read more here).
そうめん (素麺) somen: a type of noodles made of wheat flour so they are white and very thin. It is a very popular dish during summer.
I wrote previously about Tanabata and how it is not really celebrated the same in Okinawa. But with ever-changing populations, you see a little more each year.
A traditional food for Tanabata is… somen! Not only is it perfect as a summer dish, but the noodles represent the Milky way and Orihime’s threads (she was a weaver).
This type of somen dish is served chilled with a a tsuyu つゆ dipping sauce (mix of shoyu and dashi). If you want to be fancy, you can slice up okra and serve on top (they look like cute little stars). Or you could cut other veggies into star shapes, but that sounds like too much work for me, although there are many Japanese kitchen gadgets used for bento to aid with this. Perhaps you could even find those cucumbers grown into star shapes here in Japan.
Some places in Okinawa will have a nagashi-somen 流しそうめん event (translation: flowing noodles) around this time of year. A bamboo “slide” is set up and you grab them as they go buy with your hashi 箸 (chopsticks). It’s a lot of fun, so I recommend trying it.
(photos coming soon).