The noodle is not only a food consumed throughout the world; it also represents the final product of intense labor in many nations in addition to regional and cultural diversity. In addition, it’s important to recognize the differences and similarities in how noodles are prepared and consumed throughout the world; analyzing these can lead to a larger understanding of broad themes.
When reading about noodles in China, I was perhaps most struck by the various items that could make up noodles. For example, in “Noodles, Pressed and Pulled,” Hsiang Ju Lin describes how “bamboo pole noodles, made of compressed egg noodle dough, are found in Southern China … Pulled noodles are made over a vast area in northern China.” While many people consider that there are different types of noodles, few realize that the actual ingredients that go into each type can differ greatly. In addition, I was interested in the idea of how long noodle preparation can take. In the same article, the author reflects on how “dough is pressed and folded repeatedly. [The baker] might do this for hours to make a stack of compressed noodle dough.” When many people in the United States consider pasta and pasta based dishes, the first thing they think about is pre-prepared and boxed pasta dishes. This idea of pasta has been created by manufacturers and is prevalent. While these kinds of pasta are definitely in existence, they are not an accurate representation of preparation of all other kinds of pasta. In addition, I was interested to learn more about the different presentations of noodles available in China. Professor Li’s presentation corrected many ideas about the different kinds of noodles present. I especially enjoyed learning more about steamed buns and how they related to noodles. In China and the rest of the world, the variety in noodles can symbolize a larger diversity in peoples, regions, cultures, thoughts, and beliefs (especially about food).
When reviewing literature about the noodle in Italy, I was interested to learn more about how the regional differences in preparation of noodle-based dishes and how the different shapes, textures, and tastes of noodles impacted this. I was also hoping to learn more about the focus on freshness in Italian cooking. In the article we read from Encyclopedia of Pasta, Oretta Zanini de Vita reflects on how “pasta may be the unchallenged symbol of Italian food, yet no in depth research has been done on its many shapes … Recent cookery texts are stuck mainly on the nobler stuffed pastas, with very little attention to their form, and recipes nowadays almost always call for factory-made pasta.” De Vita’s article made me analyze how this “call” represents a common theme in our society: a move away from fresh cooking and eating to mass production, eating out at restaurants, and fast food. While many people are busy and unable to cook fresh food every day, manufacturers have led a major movement away from healthy eating as a result of their price gauging and other efforts in markets such as pasta production. In addition to this theme, I also found that similar to how it does in China, the noodle represents the diversity of the Italian people – regional diversity, religious diversity, cultural diversity, diversity of thoughts and beliefs, and more. Different areas in Italy produce different kinds of noodles and noodle-based dishes, depending on the way on availability and other factors.
I broadly define a noodle as being shaped from dough, possibly cooked in a variety of ways. I purposely am vague with my definition in order to be inclusive. Below I have included my chosen picture of a noodle!