Ramen Noodles: From Japan to Every College Dorm Room Across the Globe (Courtney Andrews)

Ramen noodles, according to the Cambridge Dictionary are “a Japanese meat or fish soup containing noodles and vegetables.” Although the definition conjures up images of the steamy noodle soup so commonly associated with Japanese culture, such a definition, according to Japanese tradition and practice, is much too simple. Ramen, as a whole, is separate from its generic noodle soup counter parts in that the dish is characterized by the use of kansui, alkalinized water reminiscent of mineral rich water once drawn from wells. This ingredient is vital to the iconic ramen noodles which are then added to broth, and topped with appropriate additions and garnishes, such as slices of fish cake, pork belly, eggs, green onions, and more. This use of kansui, lye, or general baking soda mixed with water, serves as the key ingredient that gives Ramen noodles their distinctive yellow color, earthy fragrance, and chewy texture. In essence, it is what keeps the noodles from boiling into mush despite bathing in steamy liquid; the noodles maintain their characteristic bounce while the broth remains warm and steamy. The ramen noodle concoction is simple: soup, noodles, and toppings. And yet, despite such simplicity in their very being, ramen noodles have become a sensation—a noodle soup superior to all other noodle soups. Diving deeper into the history of such a dish works to make this fact even more perplexing.

            The negotiation that is possible with ramen is and has been vital to its development from a simple noodle soup. There are four commonly accepted classes of ramen soup, shio, shoyu, miso, and tonkotsu, three of which are dictated by the “flavor” and the final, tonkotsu, simply by its pork broth base. There is overlap within and between these three flavor classes across regions and according to place. Shio is the oldest form, first introduced to Japanese port cities by the Chinese upon the and miso is the newest. Shio style ramen is the original ramen soup, with origins dating back to the late nineteenth century in port cities with temperate climates that supported the success of light soup bases. Miso ramen started in northern Hokkaido in the mid 1960’s as a result of colder weather. The harsher temperature begged for a heartier soup with greater depth to satisfy the citizens. The intermediate flavor, shoyu, or Japanese soy sauce, is the ramen seasoning most popular in the Kanto region of central Japan. It originates from Yokohama, a port city near Tokyo that contributed to some of the early successes of ramen. The particular combinations of these flavors are what make for ramen’s variability along the vast scale of flavors, generally guided by shiro seasoned soups on the lighter end and miso seasoned soups on the heavier, with shoyu finding its place somewhere in between. As the lines separating the categories of ramen by flavor generally lead to overlaps and blending that make ramen variety unclear, regional diversity is instead differentiated according to heaviness. Two descriptions are generally used to describe the heaviness of the soup base: “kotteri” which is used to describe richer soup and “assari” which describes lighter bases. For thicker broths bones from pork or chicken are left to simmer for longer periods of time, whereas lighter broths usually call for fish or chicken bones simmered for less time. Regional variation is also marked by spice levels, which for the most part, are dictated by heavier or lighter use of chili oil within the broth. Broth variation is the most obvious and well recognized factor when it comes to ramen types, although all are distinctive qualities of the Japanese cuisine.

            An interesting, yet frequently overlooked aspect of ramen is the variation of noodles included within the distinctive broths. By definition ramen noodles are made up of simple ingredients: wheat flour, salt, water, and konsui. Although the ingredients remain largely unchanged depending on the style of ramen, there are particular shapes of noodles associated with the soup bases. The noodles are engineered to best deliver the respective soup base to the mouth and taste buds of the consumer. The goal of varying the noodle type is to retain as much of the soup on the noodle throughout the “slurping” process. Although most ramen noodles, especially in western countries, are crinkly and extremely yellow in color, purposely reminiscent of the instant ramen to which Americans and Europeans are most accustomed, the noodle types vary by dish and soup base in traditional Japanese varieties. There are two common forms of ramen noodles: straight and wavy. Straighter noodles are more commonly used in thicker broths as the thick broth more effectively binds and is absorbed with the straight noodles as a vessel the fats cling to. The wavy noodles are meant to keep the thinner broths from quickly sliding down the noodles as the non-linear pattern slows their rapid descent. Although both act as vessels to bring their soup base with them, it is not ideal for them to simply soak up the broth. The perfect noodle is considered overdone after sitting in the broth for more than 5 min. This is why if ramen is taken to-go, the noodles are often separate, and this is only if the ramen place allows for to-go at all. This keeps the ramen at a level of quality the creator intends for the dish to be savored.

            Two popular types of ramen are Tokyo style and Sapporo. Tokyo style ramen is categorized by its moderate thickness and slightly wavy noodles in an assari chicken and pork broth flavored with dashi and shoyu. Dashi is a broth made with bonito fish flakes and sea kelp and is used in a wide variety of different Japanese dishes. This Tokyo style shoyu ramen was one of the most popular forms of ramen until the recent boom of tonkotsu ramen. Sapporo ramen is known for its density. The noodles are very thick and the miso broth is thick to match. The broths are made from pork, chicken, or fish broths that fully use the miso’s functional thickness pairing. The particular type of miso often used is akamiso meaning “red soybean paste.” As Sapporo is a city in the north of the large island province of Hokkaido, and Hokkaido was the birthplace of miso ramen, Sapporo has become the center for ramen characterized by extremely thick ramen that fully utilized the new and in vogue miso flavoring.

            Although it is unclear when exactly “ramen” was first invented, historians seem to agree that it is a result of Chinese relations. Origin stories of Japanese ramen noodles place its conception somewhere between the seventeen and twentieth centuries. The story that seems to describe the earliest possible immigration of ramen to Japan is described in a book published in 1987. The hypothesis is based on the historical record of a Chinese refugee advising Japanese feudal lord Tokugawa Mitsukuni to add a number of ramen-like ingredients to his udon soup as early as the 1660’s. However, it is unclear whether or not these noodles included the key ingredient in ramen noodles: kansui. As the chewy yellow noodles are the distinguishing factor between a noodle soup and true ramen, the styling of the udon in this story can only be suggestive of a new kind of style to noodle soup like ramen, but not the true origin. This legend however, is well favored by ramen enthusiasts, as it places the history of ramen much further back in history than the other origin stories. One that is more likely, however, places the conception of ramen in the time period that marked the opening of Japan. In the late nineteenth century, Chinese and Westerners, for the first time in over 200 years, were allowed entry into Japan. The Chinese brought their own noodle soups to the port cities in Japan such as Hakodate, Yokohama, and Kobe. These basic soups, devoid of toppings, likely became the initial, shiro-style adaptions introduced to Tokyo by pushcart peddlers in the early twentieth century. The soup-noodle street food, at this point in history, still had yet to undergo the preferential adaptations and changes that have formed the various dishes known as Japanese ramen today. Finally, the third hypothesis more or less adds specification to the second. It places the birth of ramen sometime between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, yet it links ramen to a single creator. According to this tale, Ozaki Kenichi, who had once worked as a customs agent in Yokohama, opened a shop called Rai-Rai Ken that served the first ramen. The ramen that was served in his restaurant incorporated a characteristic soy-based seasoning sauce in the soup, chāshū (braised pork belly), naruto (fish-meal cake), green leafy vegetables, green onions, and nori, as well as an alkalinized noodle called Shina soba. In total, the dish attributed to Rai-Rai Ken and creator Ozaki Kenichi is seemingly the first instance of the iconic ramen noodle soup. From this dish, the ramen noodle was conceived, although many other changes throughout history had yet make their marks on the development of the dish.

            In the early days of ramen, the dish was associated with early signs of industrialization and urbanization. The dish was seen as a foreign food, richer and heartier than the Japanese noodle dishes that did not contain meat broths or toppings. The dish typically sold from street carts and Western or Chinese-style restaurants, provided the nourishment and calories needed to fuel the developing country. Furthermore, as ramen noodles were one of the first industrialized foods, they were fast and inexpensive; a mechanical noodle-making machine could produce the key ingredient for ramen efficiently, therefore making the dish even more desirable. In the 1940’s, however, this wave of popularity was stopped in its tracks. World War II introduced Japan to food shortages and famines, as well as governmental regulations on foods supplies and food producers. Until 1949, no one in Japan was allowed to earn a profit via the sale of food—selling ramen could land on in jail. Moreover, ramen was associated with China and foreign influence, topics that became unfavorable in the midst of a world war.

            After the war, with the Unites States occupying Japan, the country witnessed a shift in the food system. Food rations were still technically in place, as was the prohibition of outdoor sellers, yet ramen began making a comeback. In the time of this foreign occupation, wheat and lard imported from the United States became substitutes for the shortage of rice and meat experienced throughout the nation. This abundance of wheat made foods like bread and noodles the standard diet of the population. Wheat and lard, as well as garlic, became the main components of “stamina foods”, foods that filled bellies during the desperate times during and after the war. Ramen, almost by default, became the food that nourished the Japanese during an era characterized by great hunger and poverty. For this reason, ramen gained a reputation as a food made for desperate times, a food eaten only when the consumer could not afford anything else. It was only in the next generation, with the postwar economic boom in full swing, that ramen regained its shining status. In the period from 1955 to 1973, ramen, along with the rest of Japan experienced great nationalization. While the rest of the country began building venues and transportation projects for the 1964 Olympics, upscale restaurants specializing in the Japanese staple began to surface across the landscape. Ramen became a symbol with Japanese cuisine, but this time, in a luxurious and affluent light.

            By the 1980’s, as ramen shops were still on the rise, it became clear the once peasant food had found a new clientele: the “Shinjinrui” or “new breed”. The new breed consisted of young urban consumers who flocked to the newly fashionable craft food. Ramen, unlike other traditional Japanese foods, was not bound by unspoken rules of preparation. The dish was open to innovation and experimentation by the new generations of young cooks, eager to provide their own interpretations of a Japanese staple. As a result, ramen and ramen shops became trendy, marked by limited menus and higher prices. Ramen’s ability to deviate from the set standards and norms made it all the more desirable among the younger generations. Ramen abandoned its status as a desperate source of fuel rooted in Chinese influence and American occupation, and instead became an icon, a symbol of Japanese cuisine. The once foreign import, and dish concocted from foreign ingredients had progressed to the focus of so many Japanese millennials’ obsessions. Eating ramen became a hobby distinguished by waits in hour-long lines at special shops and travels across the landscape to taste some of the regional varieties first-hand. By the 1990’s, some of the more renowned ramen chefs had even achieved a sort of celebrity status in Japanese culture. This rise to fame was fueled by the younger generation’s fascination with the noodle dish, which they took to the internet, and soon the rest of the world.

            Although the art form of making ramen first started in Japan, it has since immigrated across the globe. Ramen has become a craze here, even in the United States with Japanese culture connoisseurs and hipsters alike. Some of the best ramen shops in larger Unites States cities such as San Francisco and New York call for one to arrive at five o’clock in the morning in the hopes of tasting the special dish at all that day. Specialty ramen has taken the country by storm, especially when considering the first instance of ramen likely occurred in Japan just over a century ago, nearly no time considering its roots can be dated back tens of thousands of years. Exactly how the craze made its way from Japan to countries like the United States in so little time is largely unclear. However, the over ten-year gap in the beginnings of the apparently similar trends, suggests the trend is not a result of translation from the younger Japanese generations to the new age of American. Although there is no one definitive reason as to why ramen noodle bars have become an American obsession, the trend is actually most likely a result of younger generations endearing relationships with a very special type of ramen noodles: instant ramen.

            During the twentieth century, Japan provided the world with a number of life-changing inventions: the bullet train, the Walkman, the fuel-efficient car, digital cameras, emojis, karaoke, Nintendo, electric rice cookers, true ramen noodles, and greatest of all, instant ramen noodles. In a study conducted in Japan, in 2000, instant ramen was named the greatest invention of the twentieth century. Although the study only sought to discover the opinions of Japanese citizens, it is clear that ramen noodles have become a global sensation. Packages of ramen line the shelves of grocery stores across the world, lending themselves as a cheap, easy, and delicious food perfect for the working professional as well as the stressed broke college student.

            The instant ramen was first welcomed to the world by Momofuku Ando in Japan in 1958, ten years after the end of World War II. After witnessing and experiencing food shortages in the midst of the post-war devastation, Ando sought to create a food that was tasty, nonperishable, quick, cheap, safe, and healthy. After many failed attempts to find an efficient means of preserving noodles that would rehydrate with a desirable texture, he found that tempura frying the noodles drove out the moisture while maintaining the bouncy texture of the noodles upon boiling. And so, instant ramen was born. “Chicken Ramen,” the world’s first instant noodle meal, was surprisingly enough, not created with the intention of becoming a junky filler food for starving college students. In fact, instant ramen cost more than fresh soup at a local ramen shop. Instead the instant ramen was marketed toward middle-class women and children as a complete easy and nutritious meal for nuclear families looking to avoid the flocks of students and working professionals who had taken over ramen shops. The product was a hit, so much so that other companies entered the Japanese market before instant noodles expanded their reach into Asia and the rest of the globe. The globalization of instant ramen into foreign markets has made this delicious food a staple beyond Japanese borders. Furthermore, the low cost and ease associated with ramen noodles have made them especially practical for and prevalent among college students. Ramen’s association with a younger age group has likely contributed to its popularity among hipsters and trend-setters in the United States.

            Whenever my family goes on vacation, I spend my time shopping and sight-seeing while my brother chooses to spend his walking countless blocks to find hole-in-the-wall ramen shops top ranked ramen eateries. He gladly stands in line for hours and wakes at dawn just to try whatever ramen he is hunting for. I never questioned why—it was his hobby, his passion, the reason he has spent multiple summers in Japan tasting all that the country has to offer. He even took a class one summer, where he was taught the etiquette, values, and key concepts associated with ramen. Although he is far from your typical trend-follower, my brother has an insatiable love for ramen. When I questioned him about his obsession with the dish, he told me that it is the uniqueness of ramen that makes it worth waiting and searching hours for. It is filling and comforting without being boring. It’s the satisfaction of steak and potatoes, or chicken noodle soup, and yet it is impossible to get sick of. The variation makes it exciting yet in its essence, ramen is always smooth and comforting.

            The ever-changing status of ramen makes it a particularly intriguing noodle dish. Its regional variations make the dish an icon of Japanese culture across the landscape. With nothing set in stone besides a need for warm broth and chewy noodles prepared for the heat by incorporating kunsui, ramen leaves much up to the artistic vision of the creator, as well as his or her culture and influence. From humble beginnings, and simple guidelines, ramen has endured over a century of changes in perception and acceptance, despite little change in character. The noodle dish is has remarkably not left a population untouched: from starving post-war survivors to new age Japanese students and professionals, from middle class Japanese families or American hipsters to college students on a budget. Ramen, whether it be viewed as a famine food or a trendy food, has never failed to satisfy the souls or the bellies of its consumers



Work Cited:


“ASIA-PACIFIC: Japan Votes Noodle the Tops.” BBC News, BBC, 12 Dec. 2000,


Goulding, Matt. “Super Noodles: The Rise and Rise of Ramen.” The Guardian, Guardian News   and Media, 22 Feb. 2016, www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/feb/22/the-rise-            and-rise-of-ramen-noodle-soup.

Herman, Alison. “The Messy History of Ramen.” First We Feast, 1 June 2018,       firstwefeast.com/eat/2014/05/george-solt-on-the-messy-history-of-ramen.

“History.” History | World Instant Noodles Association, World Instant Noodles Association,        instantnoodles.org/en/noodles/index.html.

“Japanese Inventions That Changed the Way We Live.” Cable News Network, CNN, 13 June        2017, www.cnn.com/2017/06/13/world/gallery/japanese-inventions-changed-how-we-          live/index.html.

Leibowitz, Karen. “The Humble Origins of Instant Ramen: From Ending World Hunger to Space Noodles.” Gizmodo, 18 June 2013, gizmodo.com/the-humble-origins-of-instant-ramen-          from-ending-world-5814099.

López, J. Kenji. “Guide to Ramen Varieties.” Serious Eats, 18 Apr. 2019,    www.seriouseats.com/2013/09/the-serious-eats-guide-to-ramen-styles.html.

Lombardi, Linda. “The Social History of Ramen.” Tofugu, 11 Aug. 2014,     www.tofugu.com/japan/history-of-ramen/.

“Ramen.” Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus, Cambridge University Press,   2019, https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/ramen.



Chinese noodle interview Courtney Andrews

            Jean Lau is a 51 year-old native of Chengdu of Sichuan province in China. She moved to Huntsville, Alabama in 1991 to be with her husband, Daniel, a native of Hong Kong. Mrs. Lau had previously studied Chinese at the Sichuan University, but after her arrival in the United States, pursued a degree in accounting. In 1994, she moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where her husband, Daniel, had been offered a new job, and shortly after, in 1995 received her bachelor’s degree. She then went on to pursue her master’s degree in biostatistics, which she received in 2008. After a few years at home with her children, Jean took a position as a survey research analyst in the Medical Informatics division of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. She also taught Chinese part-time at the Chattanooga Chinese School for more than ten years and in the after-school program at The Bright School for two. Back in China, Jean’s mother taught Chinese to middle school students for 30 years; the combination of her mother’s example and Jean’s love for the Chinese language inspired Jean to quit her job as an analyst and instead pursue a career in teaching.

 My Interview with Jean Lau About Chinese Noodles

         Jean Lau has been the high school Chinese teacher at Baylor School, my alma mater, since 2010. I met Jean in 2012, when I entered my third year of Chinese at Baylor School. Some of my fondest high school memories involve Mrs. Lau. For four years, she acted as my Chinese teacher, advisor, and second mom. She brought in countless authentic Chinese meals and snacks, noodle dishes included. Some of the foods she introduced us to were fully prepared, while others she brought disassembled so we could prepare them ourselves. I distinctly remember the spice of dandan mian and mala xiaomian. She brought in both of the spicy noodle dishes on multiple occasions. Although dandan mian is more well known, mala xiaomian, with its deep red color and tangy fragrance, is an equally spicy Chinese dish that I could never forget. Mala xiaomian is prepared almost like a soupier version of dandan mian, decorated with fermented vegetables and hints of peanut. Another frequent dish that Mrs. Lau brought to our class was huoguo, or “hot pot”. Although huoguo is not necessarily a noodle based dish, it can be. There was nothing like the fun of cooking our own little buffet of foods when she brought the makings of huoguo. Mrs. Lau always came prepared with a number of vegetables, shrimp, pork, dry noodles, dumplings, and more. Each student could drop these ingredients into the portable hot pot, and cook in the heated broth to our liking. There were also multiple types of pillowy textured dumplings Jean so kindly brought for us to prepare with her in class. There was spicy zhong shui jiao, a dumpling variety bathed in a spicy chili sauce that she also prepared with us. We also made the simple and traditional jiaozi, meaning dumpling, that we used to sop up Jean’s homemade shoyu, as well as huntun or “wonton” which after they were boiled, we added to Mrs. Lau’s homemade veggie broth. All of these little packages, my classmates and I constructed and consumed together, as a little family. All eleven of us had seen each other and bonded over food for four (or more) years. We were a family, and Mrs. Lau, our mother, displayed her love for us in everything she did, but especially the way in which she fed us. And this is where my love for Chinese cuisine, and noodles especially, began.

         During my recent interview with Jean, I began by asking broad questions concerning the role noodles play in her family. She explained to me that although rice and noodles are equally important staple foods in Chinese culture, her family, for a number of reasons, eats noodles more often. First and foremost, her family enjoys noodle dishes more than rice. Second, she disclosed that she feels making noodles is much easier and less involved than cooking a “regular” Chinese meal. For rice based dishes, Jean states, one must prepare the rice as well as 3 or 4 other dishes to go with it. Noodles, however, leave more room for creativity; they can be as simple or complex as the creator desires. A quick noodle dish is as easy as adding premixed seasonings to plain noodles or stir frying noodles with gravy/brown sauce (da lu mian). She confessed that her go-to dish, however, is noodle soup. With from-scratch chicken or veggie broth at home, she can add noodles in a pinch. All in all, she claims that with noodles, there are so many ways to cook them so they are more fun and quite honestly, hard to ruin.

         When I inquired as to whether or not she makes her own noodles, she admitted that she rarely does. Even when she makes fresh wontons and jiaozi with her student or her family, the wrappers are typically store bought. For everyday cooking, she uses the store-bought dry noodles, as it is so time-consuming to make noodles from scratch. She only makes homemade noodles once or twice a year, and only for very special occasions. She disclosed that for her, noodles are no longer a “special food”, as she and her family eat them so often as an every-day staple. However, during holidays and special occasions, noodles do play an integral role. A prime example would be the long-life noodle, and its symbolic role when it comes to birthdays. The consumption of long life noodles, whether store-bought or homemade, is a tradition that almost every Chinese family shares. The long-life noodle symbolizes longevity, so everyone must eat noodles every year on his or her birthday, just for that symbolic meaning. 

         She also referenced jiaozi, with which I am well acquainted, as another type of noodle with symbolic meaning. When I asked her about the meaning of jiaozi, she said “offspring from noodle”. Making jiaozi means having everyone over to participate and come together over this food that you can eat together. She furthers this point by stating that she always enjoys making jiaozi at home or in the classroom with students because the activity symbolizes the importance of family and friends. People have the opportunity to chat and update each other on life. She even ends this portion of the interview by stating that making jiaozi is a fun activity and tradition that she hopes will be carried on forever and always.

         I then began to question her further in an attempt to discover the roots of her relationship with noodles. She told me that she grew up a region of southwestern China where spicy foods flourish. Furthermore, her family ate noodles, dumplings, and steamed buns more often than rice because her mother was from northern China, where noodles are more predominant. Regional effects on her mother’s upbringing, and therefore cooking, helped to shape Jean’s preference, and therefore her own cooking. Her mother worked full time as an English teacher, and yet she still had time to make dinner every day. But when she was young, she remembers that they always ate at home, for families very rarely went out and had a whole meal in a restaurant. Whether it was a daily meal or a big gathering, people always cooked and entertained their friends and family at home. In these days, however, people’s lifestyles are very different from the times when she grew up. Jean claims that even in China, you will find this less often. But despite such cultural change on a global scale, she tries her best to maintain this tradition of cooking at home.

         As she had disclosed her opinions on the fast pace of life, and its effect on meal time, I found it most fitting to inquire about her opinions on the “instant noodles”, or instant ramen. She surprisingly admitted that she does in fact eat instant noodles but knows “its chemicals are not good,” and therefore must limit herself to one instant noodle meal per week. When I asked her about her opinion concerning the health impacts of regular noodles that she uses in her cooking, she responded with a message about balance. Her general principle is no matter how healthy one food is, you have to balance the portions about that food. For example, when she makes the soup noodle, she adds plenty of vegetables and broth for balance. Little modifications, like the addition of vegetables, and an occasional swap from beef or pork to chicken or turkey, help her to keep her staple meal to the health standards she maintains for herself and her family.

         When I asked Jean whether or not she has experienced a change in her preferences or habits concerning the noodle, she said that she has, but not due to American cultural influences. Instead she cited that her hometown in Sichuan province is famous for its spicy food, so that is what she had grown to know and love. However, her husband is originally from Hong Kong, and therefore has very different preferences. Hong Kong cuisine is based on Cantonese style food that based in soup and lighter flavors. In order to accommodate both of their needs, she makes more soup noodles, to which she can add chili oil in order to make herself happy, and satisfy her own cravings of home.

         She cited dan dan mian as the food that best embodies her place of origin in southwest China. When I inquired as to why the noodle is so well liked, she stated that the most distinguished part of dandan noodles is that it is spicy and has lots of flavor, which she believes to be the reason people, even her American students, generally like it so much. She also cited dandan noodles as her favorite recipe, which she kindly offered to me.

         When I asked Mrs. Lau how important the noodle is to Chinese culture, she stated that it is not even possible to separate the two. Like rice, noodles play a very important role in the steady meals of Chinese people, herself included, now as much as ever. Noodles have clearly influenced Mrs. Lau culturally despite her relocation to the United States. The noodle is present in her daily meals, as well as her celebratory meals. Pasta, even here in the United States, is the food that serves to satify her family, as well as her cravings for home. Her culture remains embodied in the dishes she prepares, even in a pinch after a long day of working in the fast-paced American society.

         Although she is not so much influenced by changes in the Chinese society, her diet has clearly been influenced by changes that have affected cuisine on a global scale. Mrs. Lau made clear that she still values home cooking, and the noodle’s role in daily meals, but a faster pace that affects so many across the globe is evident in her descriptions of noodles as “quick” and “easy”. She has not welcomed instant noodles as a replacement to traditional cooking, but clearly the lack of time effects the ways in which she prepares meals. She also mentioned “carbs”, and avoiding red meat when discussing the noodle and its health implications. Societal changes in pace, and changes in health outlooks have affected her views on noodles from a nutritional and convenience standpoint, but not a cultural one. From this, it appears the cultural DNA of the noodle seemingly remains unchanged. She still cites that dandan mian, which she makes with turkey meat rather than the traditional ground pork, takes her back to her roots in southwest China. The noodles may be dried, and her secret indulgence may be instant ramen, but the traditional noodle still remains an integral part of her family, her culture, and her very being. All in all, the noodle, despite time or place, has not lost its place in Chinese culture for my interviewee, Jean Lau.




Jornal 4: I never learned how to cook– Courtney Andrews

dinner was home-made

always experimental

she’d ask as we dug in

how is it?

                        would you eat it again?

                                    should I save the recipe?

dishing out some new concoction she had slaved over

It’s called “stroganoff”

we all liked it well enough

and so, it was added to the pile

of other dishes deemed tasty enough to make again



mother tried her best to cook at home

but I was too young to really learn

never helped in the kitchen

but I spent time in the garden

with my dad




the fruits and vegetables mom cooked with

chop, chop, chop

the aromatic basil

and crisp zucchini

from the garden

prepared for an appearance in the next from-scratch lasagna


I never lost sight of where my food came from

or how my meal made its way to my plate

while living in the rural country-side of Tennessee

for it was hard to

when every ingredient in every dish

went from farm to farmer’s market

or backyard soil to wicker basket

and immediately onto the kitchen countertop.


when life began moving too quickly

I began losing sight of how my meal made its way to my plate

I still went to the markets with dad

I still picked the ripe berries in my backyard brush

harvested the fresh vegetables from my soil garden

and cut the fresh herbs from my garden pot

and yet, I no longer watched my mother slave in the kitchen

ding. ding.

dinner was ready

fresh from the crockpot

and the rice cooker

yet I never learned the recipe

never watched the process


living in a countryside

always left me isolated

from my friends

my sports teams

my school

grocery stores

and pre-made foods

It’s peaceful out here ain’t it


but a move to the city-center

brought light to all of that

suddenly meals with my family were rare

meals on the go were common

dishes were served in Styrofoam boxes

and plastic containers

hi, I’d like to place a to-go order

any food I desired was mine

Chinese food, American fare Italian dishes

trout from Pickett’s Ranch

veggies from Sequatchie Cove Farm

breads from Niedlov’s

and pasta, of any shape or form, fresh from Tony’s Kitchen

            Just give us 15 or 20 minutes,

                         and we’ll have that ready for ya


sometimes we ate together

as a family

but never did we eat the same meal

even on noodle night

my mom had Italian pasta

every time a different sauce

my dad never settled for anything other than Pad Thai

level 3 spicy and always made with rice noodles

my brother would eat fresh from scratch ramen every day if he could

and he nearly did.

I ate zoodles or kelp noodles

or both together

drenched in spicy peanut sauce

sweet tangy tomato marinara

or creamy cashew cheese


all of us get what we want

dishes that accommodate our diets

our restrictions

our desires

dishes that are quick and easy

dishes from someone else’s local farm

to a disposable container

and eventually our dinner table

along-side the only home-prepared dish my family has mastered

the salad

complete the little gems grown on our porch

ripe cherry tomatoes

tender romaine lettuce

crunchy rainbow chard

aromatic herbs of every kind

everyone of them

alive and thriving

six stories above the earth


now that I am older and living in a different city away from home

I know that keeping track of where my food comes from is not always easy

I have settled for to-go food that may not be locally sourced

meals on the go

and snacks plucked from the shelves of the supermarket

rather than my own pots and garden beds


I never learned how to cook


but if you ask me what I miss most about home

about what always brings a smile to my face

I always think of family dinners in the condo

using silverware from my own home

to eat food from Styrofoam boxes

and plastic containers

from the kitchens of our favorite restaurants

vegetable hash from Daily Ration

shrimp curry from Bitter Alibi

spicy peanut kelp noodles from Southern Squeeze

creamy cheesy vegan zoodles from Cashew

avocado ceviche from State of Confusion

the time-tested dishes I have grown to love

from the chefs I have never meet

using the fresh ingredients

from the farmers I have always known

they remain steady

a part of my family

regardless of the creator


I chose to imitate “where food comes from”, one of the Saporoso poems by Jennifer Barone. I chose this piece because it almost spoke to me in that I felt as though my experience with food was exactly opposite the author’s in some respects, and closely aligned in others. It was striking for me to compare and contrast those experiences. I was able to witness the culture of the author, who presents a situation in which she watches her Italian relatives cook family recipes: all Italian, all passed down, all home-made. And yet, she herself never really learns how to cook from her family, or really bothers to learn where her food comes from while she is younger and living in New York. Then, when she grows older, she gets the chance to see food in its core, raw form: figs from the tree, fresh tomatoes from the vine, peppers, eggplants, herbs, etc. all from the garden. She was first able to gain these experiences in her neighbor’s tiny make-shift garden. As she journeys through life, and explores the world, she apparently learns the joy of knowing where her food comes from, and therefore develops the skill of cooking, and learns the recipes of her family. Italian heritage and home-cooked meals are part of her cultural DNA. She makes this clear through her rhetoric, for she states, “a meal has never been just a meal / it was our past time / the reason to get together” as well as “everyone would call to ask / so what are you making? / a month before they would arrive.” Through her diction, she illustrates the importance of meal-time in her family. Through mirroring her style, I realized the contrasts and similarities between her culture and my own.

I come from a very different background in terms of food, and yet I somehow relate to the writer. My mother cooked when I was young; she made home-made lasagna, shepard’s pie, beef stroganoff, hand-rolled sushi, you name it. She never made these meals based on some family recipe, as she never had any. This is in great contrast to the culture of the writer, who was apparently accustomed to family recipes. My mother’s mother is an American woman, who was raised in the 50’s, a decade marked as the age of consumerism and convenience. The convenience meals of the era were seen as the wave of the future. They were trendy, and for a single-mother who never worked less than three jobs in an attempt to make ends meet, they were essential. My mom never formed an attachment to food, because she couldn’t. Most of the time, it was not around. She never learned how to cook because quite literally, there was nothing to cook, and there wasn’t any time—she started babysitting at 12, and never stopped working.             When my brother and I came around decades later, and my mother finally had the opportunity to cook, she did, and she did it well, from what I am told. She bought cook-books and taught herself. She vowed that my brother and I would not grow up like she did—we would have home-cooked meals, together, as a family, every night. By the time I entered middle school, however, and my mom was driving us to different schools and different sports practices. Eating together, became a “most of the time” thing rather than a daily routine. My mother did not give up home cooking, but we apparently ate a lot of crock-pot meals, so that she did not have to allocate so much time to the process. At the same time, we lived deep in the country in Tennessee, so we also grew our own food at the time. We mostly had vegetables and fruits, but gardening was something my dad passed down to me. He always told me that there was nothing in this world that would allow for a stronger connection to food. He always encouraged me to be more in-tune with where my food comes from, for it is beneficial to both the mind and the body of the grower/harvester. Furthermore, growing food locally allowed us the opportunity to reap the full chemical benefits. With a personal garden, we were able to decide what chemicals and fertilizers went into our gardens, and therefore we could eat organic produce, without the harsh price-tag. My mom used these items in the food that she prepared, and we snacked on the others she could not use. Just as I entered high school, however, we moved to the city. At this point, time was limited, which was a major reason for the move. I had soccer and cheer practice, my brother had crew and soccer with a different league and we couldn’t afford to drive nearly an hour from our quaint country home to school, or sports leagues. My poor mother tried to cook, but with limited space, limited time, and a number of newly discovered food intolerances/ preferences, it became more and more difficult.

After the move, we began living in a condo in the middle of downtown Chattanooga, so we had more restaurants within a 2-mile radius than I could even begin to count. The food in my city is characteristically fresh, local, and “transparent”, meaning almost every ingredient in every dish served at the local restaurants can be traced back to their farm of origin: Crabtree Farms produce, White Oak Valley Beef, Fall Creek Farm’s goat milk and heirloom vegetables, Cloudcrest and Sequatchie Cove Farms’ dairy and eggs, 2 Angels’ mushrooms, Springer Mountain Farm’s chicken, Pickett’s Ranch trout, wild boar. Dietary restrictions, a lack of time and an abundance of fresh, local, prepared food just moments away lead to a shift in my family’s dining patterns. We instead opted for to-go food for almost every meal. We still make our own salads from the produce we grow on our porch, and we eat together most of the time when we can, but all of that aside I do not remember ever watching my mom cook. I vaguely remember the crock-pot meals, but all of that happened when I was too young to really remember. For the most part, since I turned 14, I learned how to prepare food, (throw together a salad, chop veggies for a snack, etc.) and I learned how to place a to-go order like a professional, but I never did learn how to cook.

Nonetheless, I never lost my passion for growing food, and ensuring I knew exactly where my food comes from. Yes, there was a time in my life when I indulged in Chick-fil-a, and sure I still have no clue where those chickens were from and how they lived. But for the most part, I know where my food comes from. I have visited the farms that I mentioned above, and more. I have met the farmers at the markets. I have held the fish. I have picked the veggies. I have volunteered my time to pull the delicious fruits directly from the branches. This is something I will never sacrifice, for harvesting my own food, and being mindful of its history, is more a part of my cultural DNA than knowing my own history. I do have the power to know where my food comes from. This is something that is, and always will be, integral to my eating patterns. Through writing this piece, I became more comfortable with this concept. My culture, the American culture, places nearly no importance on meal-time, and food awareness. The farming culture, my culture that comes from my dad’s side, makes it so that I am much more conscious about my eating patterns than most, despite the fact that I do not cook. I think about my food. I never randomly eat. I eat with full awareness of how that food nourishes my body, and how those ingredients came into existence. Writing about my eating patterns has made me realize that I do, in fact, have a unique food culture, despite never really cooking.


The Role of the Noodle

Courtney Andrews

The noodle, in its essence, is quite simple: flour, water, maybe an egg. This dough can be cut, twisted, and shaped into a number of visually varying pastas, with the root substances remaining the same at their cores. And yet, the noodle seemingly encompasses the cultures of a number of peoples both within and across countries and landscapes. Because of its modest nature, the noodle can be, not only manipulated into varying shapes and sizes, but also dressed up or down according to preference. This innate human preference is often a result of culture, place, history, and tradition. This is exactly why it can and does play such an integral role as the staple food for drastically different cultures. I believe that by definition, the noodle is an important cultural relic comprised of wheat and water at its core, yet subject to variation in composition, shape, and culinary accessories as needed to satisfy the desires, as well as cultural, regional, seasonal, and dietary freedoms, of the creator.

In the Italian culture, pasta is a reason for the family to come together. The noodle is more than a form of nutrition, but rather it is symbol of family tradition and togetherness. Family and togetherness is an integral part of the noodle from start to finish. As illustrated in a number of class examples, but especially “2 Greedy Italians: Italian Family Lunch, Love and Food”, it was clear that enjoying an Italian meal was more than just eating together; it was a group effort to make each and every tortellini by hand, prepare the other complementary ingredients, set the table, and finally sit down to savor the meal together. The noodle, sets the stage for all of this. The noodle brings the family together.

In the Chinese culture, the noodle, in addition to bringing people together, acts more powerfully. Like tortellini, dumplings in Chinese culture set the stage for a gathering and a sharing of knowledge over pasta. As in Italian culture, members of the family gather to partake in the dumpling making procedures, but in the process, allow time to converse with one another and learn from one another, especially the elder members of the family. The noodles therefore also become synonymous with togetherness. Furthermore, in this culture, the noodle represents much more. As with many foods in the Chinese culture, the noodle can be directly responsible for health, wellness, and success in life. As is stated in the article On Food and Medicine, “the Chinese do not draw any distinction between food and medicine. What is good for the body is medicine and at the same time food.” Due in part to their emphasis on food as medicine, the Chinese evidently grant foods a much greater power-role in determining life outcomes. For example, at the very beginning of our course, we read a compelling and dynamic piece on the long-life noodle. This type of noodle in particular is not only a frequent guest at milestone gatherings in Chinese culture, but also quite seemingly a determining factor in the health, longevity, and therefore happiness of the consumer. Although it may be difficult to connect to and comprehend from an outsider’s perspective, this story makes clear the message that the noodle itself determines the lifespan of the consumer— “the longer the noodle, the longer the life”. The noodle’s role in this tradition and the overall eating culture of China makes it an integral part of the culture

The noodle plays such a large part in these countries because of its historical presence in culture and tradition. The noodle acts as a shared historical relic for both China and Italy, within and across the two countries. What is something that unites two places as radically different as China and Italy, and yet makes them, in a culinary sense, unique. What is something that links together the historically independent regions of each of these countries, yet allows for characteristic and distinctive qualities? The answer to both of these questions is the noodle.             The noodle is an integral aspect of the various cultures and their histories throughout both countries. The noodle’s origin is typically attributed to the Chinese, with Italy’s adoption of it attributed to Marco Polo, yet this is not at all the case. Pasta was already present in Italy at the time of Marco Polo’s expeditions, therefore it is actually much more likely the presence of Arabic people in the south peninsula during the middle ages can be rightfully attributed to the noodle’s diffusion across the landscape. In a sense, the noodle appeared somewhat spontaneously in different parts of the world. Chinese “cake”, or in other words, pasta, can be dated back to the Han dynasty according to archeological evidence. Further, it is documented that “lagane”, a Etrusco-Roman pasta varietal that was typically baked rather than boiled, existed during the 1st century A.D. This long history makes the noodle an integral part of the diet, but also the history, tradition and culture. For example, a number of noodle varietals have become staples in important events and festivals. In China, sweet dumplings are eaten during the Lantern Festival, longevity/ long-life noodles at birthday celebrations, dumplings during the Spring Festival, noodles with gravy to mark marriage and moving into a new home (to bring a flavored life), and on the day of lunar Februray 2, “dragon head”, dragon whiskers noodles are consumed. Noodles are also tied to historical moments and stories: noodles called “dutiful son’s noodle”, “sister-in-law noodles”, “ashamed son noodles”, and “old friend noodles”, all relating to stories throughout history. Noodles have a distinct place in history, as well as the landscape. As documented throughout our studies, noodles vary by place within the country. From East China’s “Shanghai noodles in superior soup” to Southwest China’s “Guizhou noodles with pig’s blood and internal organs” and “Sichuan dandan noodles”, we see radical difference in noodle dress-up in China. From “Risotto alle Verdure”, “Agnolotti”, “Cannelloni” in Piemonte, to “pasta con le sarde” and “Pesce Spada” in Sicilia, we see variations in culture and tradition according to the landscape and historical presence.

Overall, the noodle reflects the culture, regions, cities, and people that cook them by adapting and transforming dishes that represent milestones and togetherness, which we see vary according to the landscape. The noodle means more than nutrition in that the noodle can be dressed up as medicine, a celebratory event, a powerful entity, and a reason for a gathering, all based on the complementary components that join the noodle in forming a special dish. The noodle, due to its ancient beginnings has witnessed much of the history and the beginnings of traditions in both of these countries, and therefore has been integrated as a component of such traditions. The noodle has been there since the beginning, making its mark in history, and therefore gaining and essential role in food culture.

Journal #2 Courtney Andrews- Donna’s Dining Room Set

           My name is Courtney Andrews and for my investigation, I observed the kitchen table of diner chef Donna Grant. Donna Grant is a 68-year-old, mother of four, who once helped her mother operate their family run diner in Catskill, New York, called Koch’s. Although the beloved restaurant closed its doors nearly 5 years ago, she is still a chef, and a fantastic one at that. As I walked through the squeaky front door of her summer home, a double-wide in Daytona Beach, Florida, she greeted me with a huge bear hug and immediately put me to work.

            “Honey, if you could, just wrap those up in some foil for me and then we can talk about your little project,” she said as she forcefully shoved her homemade stuffing in one side of the turkey. “I just have to be sure the bird is cooking first.”

            I walked toward the pile of potatoes and began wrapping them in foil. It wasn’t long before she caught a glimpse of my work, and hurried over to correct my mistake. She calmly demonstrated how to “poke” the potatoes with the fork first, and then lather them in olive oil before wrapping them. She explained that if you do not oil them first, they dry out, and if you do not poke holes in the skin, then they explode, and the whole house burns down, which makes these two steps quite integral parts of the process. As I began fixing my potato mishaps, she began chopping lettuce and telling me all about our special guests. She rattled off a number of familiar names, including a number of her own children, as well as her children’s children. As I wrapped the final potato and placed it in the pile with the 15 or so others, she beamed.

            “Oh, thank you so much sugar,” she said, as she pulled open the silverware drawer. “Can you just go ahead and place these on the table?” She handed me a large pile of forks, which I then walked toward the dining table. It was only then that I began to realize there was no way this table was going to seat more than six, and yet I had wrapped 15 or so potatoes and was currently holding nearly the same number of forks.

            “Um, Donna… Is this the table you were referring to?” I asked, hoping to sound polite despite my confusion.

            “Ah, yes,” she said with a smile. “My sons made that for me when they were in high school. Isn’t it lovely? They will be here tonight, your cousins, PG and Jimmy. Such great boys.”

            As sweet as her explanation was, it did nothing to address my confusion as to where exactly all of this silverware was to go. There simply wasn’t enough space on the tiny little wooden table. I figured maybe I’d try something different:

            “Donna, how many people will be dining with us this evening?” I asked.

            “14” she responded, not even looking up from the pile of onions. I looked at the table again, confused as to how it would realistically even fit 5, let alone 14.

            “Ah, PG and his family are arriving now,” she said with a smile. “They can help you with setting the table”.

            For the next half-hour, I continued to ask Donna a number of questions concerning her children and the traditions that went into these regular meals together. She kindly answered my interview questions to the best of her ability, and always with a smile. I eagerly listened to her perspective while observing as the whole family went into the garage and seemingly without a thought, set up temporary tables and 10 or so folding chairs. That double-wide trailer was so packed full of tables and chairs, that I wasn’t even sure how we could possibly add more humans to the equation. Yet, within the next few minutes, members of the family slowly began to trickle in, and yet no one seemed crowed or uncomfortable. This was how the family gatherings went. I certainly felt a little claustrophobic, but based on the number of smiling faces in the room, I know that I was alone in this feeling of even slight discomfort.

            For my study, I employed the participant-observation method in order to really get a feel for the environment and the practice. I, of course, could not decline my aunt’s invitation to join her in preparing, enjoying, and cleaning up the beautiful meal. Her gracious efforts required assistance, which doubled as hands-on experience for me. By helping out, I acquired a greater sense of the process as well as the feel, smell, and taste of the tradition. My immersive opportunity and fieldwork was accompanied by a number of interview-like discussions with Donna and her family members that took place while preparing the food and the table. Every person present had a story to share about the family dinner event. Even more so, these stories seemingly always had a cheery tone to them, from my cousin’s first dinner there with his then-girlfriend and now-wife, to the first dinner appearance my one-year-old cousin Brycen made just this past year. Nothing but positivity radiated from the tasks and interviews I partook in throughout my investigation into the importance of the mini, white, wooden dining table. I could imagine no other means besides full immersion to investigate a family experience on an emotional level. Conducting interviews, or making comparisons did not seem to be an appropriate means of truly experiencing the dinner event in all of its glory. (Crowther 2018)

            I undertook this study because despite the fact that Donna is my closet aunt, I have never once been to her home for dinner. Although the family gatherings with Donna’s side of the family were quite regular, there was always some excuse that my mother made so that we did not have to deal with some choice members of the family, as well as the “chaotic” nature of the ordeal. However, as a 20-year-old researcher, I was, of course, free to attend if I wanted to do so. I watched every member of the family bring a dish– some dishes were simple, some intricate, some store bought, some from scratch. And yet ever dish was appreciated all the same.

            The thing that interests me most about this particular kitchen table it that the table itself is really not all too important. The little four-top table that my aunt and her husband sit at holds great meaning to them, but the other fold up tables are, from an isolated, outside perspective, seemingly nothing special. Appearances aside, however, the fold-up tables are what turn the dining room into a welcoming gathering space. The dining room set, with its old white, chipped paint, and four unmatched chairs, isn’t pretty, neat, or organized, but the set-up isn’t the main focus; rather the home and the guests are the key components. For me this was a very important lesson: It’s not where you are, or what you have, it’s who you are with. My family has never had much in terms of fancy silverware, fine China, or detailed furniture, but we have always had each other and some warm, hearty meals. The table at the center of the gathering serves only as a starting point, from which more and more tables can be added as more hungry mouths arrive. There is no true limit to the size of the gathering, as more settings are always possible and more than welcome.

            The white, worn little wooden table quite obviously had experienced a number of family dinners. Although it still wore a number of chips, dents, and scratches at the time of my investigation, it was clear that the table had been lovingly restored a number of times throughout the years. It may not be perfect, and it may not be the most beautiful table, but it holds a lot of love as well as the potential for gathering. These two things, love and potential, are what I believe to be the most integral parts of a dining room table.


Works cited:

Crowther, Gillian, and Gillian Crowther. “Setting The Anthropological Table.” Eating Culture: An Anthropological Guide to Food, University of Toronto Press, 2018, pp. XVII-XXX.

Jornal 1: Blackberry Cobbler


As someone born and raised in Tennessee, I have never experienced a shortage of heavy calorie-laden soul food options such a biscuits, gravy, and fried chicken. Furthermore, as the descendant of a family-run, home-cooking diner, I have never experience a shortage of whatever home-made food my heart desired. One food I could not get enough of growing up combined southern comfort with diner desserts—my grandmother’s homemade cobbler. Cobbler is a deep-dish fruit dessert with the syrupy thick filling at the forefront. A successful cobbler requires a deep layer of fruit filling, a thick crust, and nothing more. The rest is up to the creator. The fruit filling can be made of any fruit really, and the crust is typically biscuit-like in nature, yet the form of the biscuit, whether it be in a sheet, uniform, or intermittent and drop-like, is again, up to the baker. Cobblers are often attributed to the deep south, as they frequently involve distinct flakey biscuits and sweet Georgia peaches. My favorite family recipe, however, is my grandmother’s cobbler, which is made using wild blackberries, and homemade drop biscuits, served warm over vanilla ice cream, and topped with whipped cream. Nothing compares to the comfort of that warm fruity dessert on the tongue during chilly winter-time holidays.

When I was growing up, not a gathering occurred without the blackberry cobbler making an appearance, and never ever did I get sick of it. We made blueberry cobbler, blackberry cobbler, raspberry cobbler, peach cobbler, apple cobbler– you name it, we made it, right there in my grandmother’s kitchen. However, for whatever reason, blackberry cobbler, won my heart, as well as the spotlight when it came to the holidays I spent in the diner’s kitchen. That process of making and baking with my grandmother around Christmas and Thanksgiving was the highlight of my childhood. Not only did I get to spend time with my grandmother having fun baking, but I got to eat the result, too! Of course, we made all kinds of other deserts down there: pies, cakes, cookies, etc. But with the discovery of my gluten intolerance, pretty early on in my teens, only the cobbler (at first, without the biscuits) made it into the “eat” phase. The sweet taste of wild blackberry cobbler, complete with warm, juicy berries fresh from the oven, became one of the things I looked forward to the most all year. Then, when I turned 16, the restaurant unfortunately closed, and the desserts and memories of my childhood halted in their tracks. My grandmother had closed up shop and moved to Florida. Luckily, the tradition had not at all stopped with my grandmother’s retirement. In her tiny tropical little kitchen, we of course, still make cobbler, just slightly modified to a smaller crowd and a new outlook on health. Now, when I visit my grandmother in Florida during the holidays, we make a new version of the legacy, but this one with gluten free biscuits (for me), dairy-free biscuits (for my grandmother), and stevia instead of sugar (for the diabetics in my family). Even with these modifications, her blackberry cobbler is just as sweet and comforting as I remember. This dish combines family tradition and southern culture, with a little less grease and sugar, making it the perfect, satisfying dessert for myself and my family.

In researching the history of my favorite dish, I found that the name “cobbler” comes from the “cobbled”-together nature of the dessert. The dish is a trail-modified version of the age-old pie concept adapted to the life of the English settlers. By nature, the dish is ready for variation, requiring limited ingredients, few resources, little skill, and nothing-near perfection. Rather cobblers are believed to have originated in the early years of European settlements, where the settlers had ideas of pie, but had to make do with what they had, which was rarely fresh fruit and neat little pie pans. Instead they had dried, canned, or syrup-preserved fruit, open fires, and biscuit makings. The dessert was often times even served as a breakfast food for the early settlers. As a southerner, this comes as little shock, since biscuits are of course, an any time staple of my geographic region. Biscuits and farm-fresh fruits combine in perfect harmony to create a dessert worthy of its own holidays: National Peach Cobbler day on April 13th, and National Cherry Cobbler Day on May 17th. For me, however, the cobbler is also more than worthy of standing front and center every day of the year, but especially during Christmas and Thanksgiving. My memories of baking and eating blackberry cobblers are irreplaceable memories, integral to my upbringing, my culture, and most of all, my family.




Grandma Irene’s Blackberry Cobbler


3/4 cup gluten-free flour blend

1/4 cup oat flour

1/2 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

2 1/2 tbsp refined coconut oil

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or more as needed)



4 Quarts of blackberries

1 cup powdered stevia

3 tbsp of cornstarch or coconut flour


Place blackberries in a half hotel pan and coat with stevia. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, then remove from the oven and add the cornstarch/coconut flour to a tiny bit of water until it forms a thick soupy consistency. Add this mixture to the cooked berries and stir. Then add the biscuit batter with a disher or ice cream scoop put pack into the oven to cook for another 20 minutes or when you see the biscuits turn golden brown. Serve over your favorite vanilla ice cream (we use so delicious almond milk vanilla ice cream) and whipped cream (we use reddi-whip non-dairy coconut or almond whipped cream).



Works cited:

Wulff, Alexia. “A Brief History Of Peach Cobbler.” Culture Trip, 24 Nov. 2016,    theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/articles/a-brief-history-of-peach-cobbler/.

Photo credits:


Vegan Blackberry Cobbler