I could bet money that my dad would crack that pun every time somen was being served up for dinner on a hot summer night. Sōmen (素麺 in Japanese) are ultra-thin noodles made from wheat flour and served cold with a dipping sauce. The noodles are typically white in color except for one location in all of Japan. Ehime prefecture has a local specialty called go-shoku-somen (literally, 5-flavored somen): a set of 5 different-colored packs of somen that derive their colors from natural additives. Now, a local company has created 2 additional colors and have designed a package that makes them look like a set of crayons.
The company, Goshiki Somen, released “Iro Iro Somen” earlier this year. In addition to the standard pink (plum), green (matcha), yellow (yuzu) and orange (iyokan citrus), they added blue (gardenia) and grey (sesame) and packaged the entire set to look like crayons.
When we think of food-coloring we typically think of modern chemistry and toxic additives that aren’t healthy. But Goshiki Somen has been making their multi-colored noodles for literally hundreds of years, and using only natural ingredients. They were founded in 1635. As the story goes, the daughter of a somen noodle maker visited the local Iyozuhikonomikoto Shrine and was struck by the beauty of the multi-colored yarns that adorned the geta sandals that were being worn. She went home and told her father that he should make somen just like the beautiful yarn.