Blog 2: Noodle Metamorphosis

Noodle Metamorphosis

Eunho Seo

Blog 2

CHN 375W/ ITAL 376W



In the story Crossing the Bridgewritten by Terry Durack, we can see how food is not merely a necessity for human survival. The boy, who never passed his Imperial Exam, immediately passed his exam after his house cook made an array of the boy’s favorite foods. What boy ate that day was not only the noodles, meat, or shrimps but also the effort of the chef and the boy’s memories regarding the foods. Throughout the course, my perspective upon food has changed: What I eat represents what I am. I learned that the food is a pretty accurate reflection of our society. From this blog post, I want to discuss how noodles in China and Italy reflects their societies in various aspects.

The most obvious trait of food is that it demonstrates the culture of a society. By learning about a country’s traditional food and customs relating to the food, we can learn the country’s culture. For instance, in the article The truth about pasta, it tells how Italian pasta is a food that gathers people from the process of making pasta to eating it. Since making pasta is such a time-consuming work, Italian people tend to gather around and make it and eat it together. From this story, we can learn how Italian noodle brings its family, friends, and neighbors together. Additionally, noodles play significant role in celebrating cultural events. In China, people eat longevity noodles on birthdays, eat noodles with gravy at the time of marriage and moving homes, and eat dragon whiskers noodles on the day of lunar February 2nd. It is interesting how Chinese people put meanings into the noodles they eat in different events and make this tradition as a part of their national culture.

Moreover, noodle is a perfect example of how local food represents each region and cities. Both in Italy and China, there are numerous different types of noodles. And those differentiated forms of noodles are the outcome of different regions. For instance, it is shown in the article History of Pasta, how different noodles of Italy were invented by different regions, mostly influenced by foreign invasions. People in different regions of Italy had dissimilar preferences and it is reflected in their pasta. Also in the book Noodles, traditionally and today, the author informs the readers how China is divided into East China, Southern china, Central China, North China, Hongkong and etc. .. And each regions use different ingredients and cooking styles of noodles, such as boiling and frying, resulting in completely different styles of noodles. Hence we can conclude that noodles reflect the preferences, history, and even culture of each region in Italy and China.

By looking at how noodles reflect several aspects of Chinese and Italian societies, we can deduce how significant noodle is to Chinese and Italian people. Two countries are similar in a way that they consider noodles as their staple food. It is their most common food (an average Italian eats 60 pounds of pasta a year), hence carries a lot of meanings to Chinese and Italian people. Both nations have been eating noodles over centuries regardless of whether Marco Polo brought noodles from China and Italy or not. Hence, noodles have been embedded in their history. Living with noodles, many stories and songs related to noodles have been published and I was able to take an insight into what noodle means to Chinese and Italians. For an example, Chinese people in especially for babies and elderlies, people eat noodles for their birthdays. The long-life noodle story tells us that noodle represents long life for them. Similarly, Italians believe that noodles will bring them long life through well nutritiously balanced properties of noodles. In the article The truth about pasta, it is shown how Mediterranean diet, including pasta, is very effective and Italians consume pasta to maintain health. In conclusion, for both countries, they believe their staple food, noodles or pastas, are healthy food that will make them live longer. This is one example that shows how Italians and Chinese perceive noodles. However, there are numerous noodle stories that provides us an insight into what noodle means to Chinese and Italian people.

Since noodles were constantly popular and most commonly eaten food in China and Italy over hundreds and thousands of years, it played significant roles in cultural formation. For Chinese food culture, they emphasize the balance in foods such as nutrition and tastes. And noodle was the food that can be easily manipulated to qualify their food principles as it can be cooked in numerous different versions with diversified ingredients. Therefore, the introduction of noodle brought variety of choices in the history of Chinese food culture. There even was a cook who serves noodles for emperors and high-status people. In conclusion, the gradual formation of Chinese food principles, especially the balance, was hugely influenced by the variety of noodles in China. Another example for Italy, pasta is a food that is cooked conveniently. According to the article, History of Pasta, the spread of pasta in Italian food history was mostly due to its convenience and convenience became the key in Italian food culture. From this, I understood how noodles played major roles throughout the history regarding the formation of food culture in China and Italy.

After leaning so many about noodles, the overarching question that needed to be asked was ‘What exactly are noodles?’ I tried to look up the perfect definition of noodles after the class discussion about it, but I couldn’t find an accurate definition of noodles. Therefore, I came up with my own definition: Noodle is produced with the mixture of any form of flour or grain that can be treated with different methods (boil, fry..), which is commonly later cooked with other ingredients. What I personally wanted to emphasize in the definition of noodle was variety. Since I learnt that there are countless types of noodles, I didn’t want to limit the transformation of noodles. Also, in definitions of online dictionaries limited the shape of noodle to be thin and long, which isn’t true, and I didn’t want to make the same mistake. The unpredictable nature of noodle made itself a hard word to define but I personally believe that such complication is what makes people love noodles.

One Reply to “Blog 2: Noodle Metamorphosis”

  1. Hey Eunho, your literature review of noodle in the Italian and Chinese cultures is exhaustive and I really appreciate your references to course materials. Your definition of the noodle, however, is a bit dry, and I think if you could take into account its social and cultural features, you might come up with some more inclusive versions. Also, I don’t see the image you chose as representative of your understanding of the noodle, would you be able to post it in your edit?

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