a culinary sensation

Sometimes the simplest things in life provide the most versatility. A combination of flour and water brings us noodles, a popular multicultural dish enjoyed all over the globe. The origin of noodles is a contentious debate. Some say Marco Polo introduced pasta to Italy after his voyage back from China. Others say that Roman poets have written verses about noodles dated back to twenty centuries ago.

In 2005, archeologists unearthed a 4000-year-old bowl of noodles buried ten feet underground in China, making this the oldest known evidence of noodles.

Picture from the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Regardless of which country invented noodles, it’s safe to say that anyone can enjoy this culinary sensation. 

noodles and chinese culture

Food has always been an important facet of Chinese culture. Noodles are an everyday staple in China but they’re also eaten during special occasions and festivals. I’m sure we’ve all celebrated our birthday with a huge slice of cake. In China, it’s just as common for the birthday girl or boy to eat a bowl of “longevity noodles.” Called chang shou mian (长寿面), its long strands bless the celebrant with a long life. The noodles must be carefully eaten though— it’s believed that cutting the strands with your teeth will cut your lifespan short as well! 

hand-pulled longevity noodles (image via China Daily)

Noodles reflect how wonderfully diverse our world is. Different cultures have their own variation of noodle dishes, whether that be Italian cacio e pepe, Vietnamese pho, Indian kheer, Japanese ramen, Egyptian koshari, Korean japchae, Peruvian tallarines verde—the list goes on! China alone has hundreds of regional noodle dishes. Sichuan Dan dan mian is coated with spicy chilli oil and topped with minced meat. The refreshing Shanxi liang pi or cold skin noodles are dressed with peanut sauce and garnished with sliced cucumbers. Hand-stretched Lanzhou beef noodles are served in a steaming bowl of tasty broth.

Sichuan dan dan mian (Image via Seonkyoung Longest)

If you get the chance to visit China, may I suggest noodles as your next meal?

– julie

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