NYT Mini for Saturday, November 14, 2015

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Word of the Day: UDON

Udon (饂飩?, usually written as うどん) is a type of thick wheat flour noodle of Japanese cuisine.

Udon is often served hot as a noodle soup in its simplest form, as kake udon, in a mildly flavoured broth called kakejiru,which is made of dashisoy sauce, and mirin. It is usually topped with thinly chopped scallions. Other common toppings include tempura, often prawn or kakiage (a type of mixed tempura fritter), or aburaage, a type of deep-fried tofupockets seasoned with sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. A thin slice of kamaboko, a halfmoon-shaped fish cake, is often added. Shichimi can be added to taste.

The flavor of broth and topping vary from region to region. Usually, dark brown broth, made from dark soy sauce (koikuchi shōyu), is used in eastern Japan, and light brown broth, made from light soy sauce (usukuchi shōyu), is used in western Japan. This is even noticeable in packaged instant noodles, which are often sold in two different versions for east and west. (Wikipedia)

So, so average. A triumph of mediocrity. Salieri would be proud. I was distracted by food for 27 seconds in between solving this puzzle and examining the completed grid, and now I cannot even remember having filled it in. There's almost nothing here that demands attention. Not even in a bad way. It's just...there.

What is the "World Series," anyway? is that something to do with poker? Whatever. I so don't care that some guy named METS is good at drawing cards and pretending he has other cards (3D: 2015 World Series team). How is that still a thing? #sports

 Available for comment, should anyone request a comment

Available for comment, should anyone request a comment

I can never decide if I like the practice of cluing symbols with just that symbol itself, as in the case of SPADE (4A:  ♠). Like, I think the first 17 or 18 times I encountered it I thought it was cute, but it seems so played out now, even if it occasionally still gives me trouble. In any case, I think we would be wise not to not call that particular symbol that particular symbol, unless we are referring to David That Particular Symbol. Yes, that seems wise.

I suppose I should recognize the fact that it was probably played out before I even encountered it the first time, and be grateful for the existence of clues that provide nice stuff to SAVOR for people who are just getting into crosswords (1D: Relish)

I got some mild amusement out of SPIN, if only because the clue reminded me of more interesting game shows that may or may not air in close proximity to that one (4D: Decide not to solve or buy a vowel).

By a miraculous coincidence it seems that "decid[ing] not to solve" would have been the only winning move for this puzzle.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, Vagabond of CrossWorld