Identity of Noodles

Noodle has long history in Italy and China. From hundreds of years ago, if not thousands, noodle served as an important kind of food in the daily life. However, noodle is not just merely a kind of food for Italians and Chinese. It also plays an important role in their culture, becomes a symbol of Italian and Chinese food respectively.

Pasta was created or introduced to Italy in 13th century. It was first created as affordable food which is also easy to store for sailors on the ships. But it was after the renaissance that the sauce and the variety of pasta became abundant. At first, pasta was kneaded and dried in the sun, and then cooked with meat and vegetables. So at that time in Italy, streets were full of pasta drying in the sun. In the beginning, people ate pasta with bare hands and then sucked the juice on the hand. However, the upper-class people thought it was not elegant to eat pasta like this. Finally they adapted knife and fork for pasta. This was a great milestone of western cuisine. Thus, pasta plays and indispensable role in promoting the development of Italian food. The Americas brought spice and tomatoes back to Europe, further improved the taste of pasta. Pasta became the most popular food in Italy. Now, Italians consume more than 28 kilograms of pasta per year, per person, reflects how enthusiastic Italians love pasta. Different places in Italy has its own regional pasta, even each family has its own secret ingredients. There is also a pasta museum in Roam, exhibiting the tools Italians used to make pasta, telling people the history of pasta. Pasta becomes a symbol of Italian culture.

Noodle was first called “Tang Bing” in China. It was not until Song Dynasty that noodle was called “Mian Tiao” as it is called now. Noodle was recorded as a kind of so called “Zhu Shi”, main food, for two thousand years ago. However, archaeologists discovered a bow of noodle which is dated nearly four thousand years ago. This discovery greatly extended noodle’s history. In China, noodle is made with wheat flour. Because there is not plenty of river resources in the north, northern Chinese farmers plant wheat instead of rice in the southern part of China, where water resource is abundant. As a result, northern Chinese people choose “Mian Shi”, include noodles, as their so called main food, whereas southern Chinese people mainly eat rice. When I visit one of my best friends’ home, I found a very interesting thing during dinner. His parents prepared two kinds of main food. His father is from southern part of China, so he had rice. However, his mother had noodle sine she is from northern part of China. Like the situation in Italy, each region has its own noodle, like “Dao Xiao Mian” in Shanxi, “Zha Jiang Mian” in Beijing, “Yang Chun Mian” in Shanghai, etc. One can say that “Mian Shi” including noodles composes half of the Chinese diet. It becomes an important part of Chinese culture.

One Reply to “Identity of Noodles”

  1. Hey Michael, I enjoyed your discussion of the noodle in the Chinese context. I would like to know more about its social and cultural significance in the Italian setting. I wish you’d articulate your definition of the noodle and represent your understanding with a relevant image.

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