Noodles in China and Italy: A Reflection on Food, Culture, Identity, and Love

by Abigail Chin


The noodle is a remarkable culture bearer for China and Italy because noodles reflect and illustrate the unique societal values and identities of both countries and their respective cultures in different ways. Noodles are made from simple ingredients, but the context in which they are produced and consumed within Italy and China imbue the noodle with great meaning and identity beyond the noodle’s simple categorization as a food product.

At the most basic level, the noodle performs the basic function of giving people affordable nutrition in both China and Italy. The base ingredients for noodles are some combination of flour, water, and/or eggs. As such, noodles contain protein, minerals, and carbohydrates, along with some minerals. Noodles in China are considered a staple food, as seen in “Bite of China: Staples Foods.” Noodles are a cereal food, and “cereal food is the main body of the traditional Chinese diet, the main source of energy for the human body, and also the most economical energy food” (Journal of Ethnic Foods, Ma and Zhang 212). Noodles have performed the all-important role of feeding millions of Chinese people for hundreds of years, and China is the largest consumer of noodles in present-day. Italy also relied on noodles as an economical staple food during different times in history. For example, in Let the Meatballs Rest we learn that around 1630, pasta was very popular in Sicily but less so in Naples, where it was still considered a luxury. During that time, Neapolitans suffered from terrible famine and poverty as a result of Spain’s poor governance. There was an extreme shortage of the former staple food meat, and the Neapolitans took advantage of the mechanical pasta maker and made macaroni their new, economical staple food in the place of meat. During that time, they were given the nickname “macaroni-eaters” because of their love of pasta, and in the 1800s Italy as a whole country took on that label (Montanari161-162). Noodles have played an essential part in providing wholesome nutrition to both China and Italy. The rise in popularity of macaroni in Naples is a great example of how different regions of Italy and China experience noodles in different ways, according to different regional characteristics and traditions.

In China, noodles are a staple food, but there are thousands of different noodles varieties throughout the different regions, provinces, and cities of China. Each region of China has its own signature noodle dishes with vastly different preparation methods and flavor combinations. China is a large country with so many different types of climates, so many food traditions remain popular in specific regions in part because their respective geographic environments and climates are conducive for growing and preparing certain foods. However, perhaps just as significant is the fact that certain food traditions arose in a specific region, and people in that particular region care to continue the tradition, or perhaps people in other regions do not have quite the same affinity for the tastes of other regions’ noodle dishes. It has been said Chinese are the most food-oriented people in the world, and food traditions are among the most important traditions that the Chinese people keep. This is illustrated beautifully by the way noodles are prepared and eaten throughout China.

Bamboo pole pressed noodles are a remarkable noodle dish that can only be found in southern China, while pulled noodles are a proud tradition of Northern China. Bamboo pole noodles are made in a small area of China that includes Canton and Hong Kong, while pulled noodles are made throughout a large area of Northern China. The art of making bamboo pole noodles is a strenuous and lengthy process that was invented one hundred years ago and has been passed down between each generation since then (Hsiang Ju Lin 309-311). The art of bamboo pole noodles requires patience, discipline, and precise attention to detail in order to achieve the proper texture and form of noodle. The process of making these noodles is detailed by Hsiang Ju Lin in “Slippery Noodles.” The dough is made by mixing duck eggs straight into wheat without water, and then pole operator must bounce and pivot on the bamboo pole for hours, folding the dough at certain intervals (309-311). A person who makes this type of noodle does so as his or her full-time job or career, because making these noodles properly requires a good amount of training and experience; it seems it is not the type of dish that a person can make at home on a whim. This noodle reflects the culture and discipline of the Southern Chinese people in the Canton and Hong Kong areas, because this process requires an hours-long commitment to excellence and quality in order to enjoy even one bowl of noodles. On an individual level, the bamboo pole operators’ dedication, strong work ethic, and craftsmanship is embodied in these noodles. The fact that these particular noodles have remained popular, and that the art has been passed down over a hundred years shows the value that Chinese culture places on the art of quality food.

On the other hand, pulled noodles give us a window into the cultural fabric of northern China. These noodles have a long history in northern China. While pulling the noodles, the “noodle-maker would give a riveting performance” (Hsiang Ju Lin 312). The fact that noodle-makers would put on a show in a street stall or in a restaurant reveals that they had a ready audience for their noodle-making. The Chinese are a food-oriented culture, and the ready audience for noodle-makers illustrates that Chinese people appreciated and continue to appreciate the artisanship and hard work that goes into making the noodles. This presents a stark contrast to American restaurants, where the chef and cooks most often remain behind the closed double doors of the kitchen, and never come out to show how food is made. In the USA, it seems that at nicer restaurants, it is essential that the process of cooking be hidden from the customer, with a distinct separation between front-end wait staff and back-end chefs and cooks. The emphasis and value are placed on the appearance and taste of the food when it lands on the dining table, but less so in the process behind it. The performance of noodle pullers illustrates that the Chinese, specifically the northern Chinese in this case, value every step of the noodle-making process, not just what ends up in their bowl on the table. Lanzhou pulled noodles are a different type of pulled noodles that were invented by Muslims who settled in the Xian and Lanzhou cities of northern China after they traveled in from the west on the Silk Road (Hsiang Ju Lin 313-314). This dish marries traditional Muslim beef soup with pulled noodles native to northern China. The soup was made from green parsley, red pepper oil, white noodles, radish, coriander, beef, spice blends, and a signature clear broth. The clear broth of this noodle dish is very different from the rich and heavy sauce that is often served with pulled noodles in northern China (314-315). This particular noodle dish is a great example of how other cultures could influence and contribute to the noodle culture in China. Lanzhou pulled noodles are a direct result of the Silk Road and how the Silk Road changed and influenced Chinese culture in the northern region.

In Italy, the noodle is a wonderful symbol of the entire Italian culture and more specific regional traditions. The earlier example of the Neapolitan development of a macaroni culture reveals an important aspect of Italian culture. When discussing Italian culture, it is important to recognize that each region of Italy has a distinct history. Each region was conquered, occupied, and liberated multiple times by different rulers and countries, and during different time periods. Some regions of Italy did not interact with other regions for hundreds of years at a time, so each region developed its own cultural identity and food culture. In addition, different regions of Italy have geographies that are suited to raising different kinds of crops and livestock, furthering the regional difference in cuisine. While pasta is now recognized as the signature food of Italy, each region has a very different history with pasta. In the Middle Ages, Sicily “was the region of Italy where industrialized dry pasta first took hold” (Montanari 161). Up to this point, Sicilians were known as “macaroni eaters” (161). However, around 1630 after pasta became an economical staple food in Naples following a period of famine, Neapolitans became known as “macaroni-eaters” (162). It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the entire country of Italy was known as “macaroni-eaters” (162). Since this date coincides with the unification of Italy in 1861, I imagine that perhaps the unification enabled pasta in all its forms to travel and become widespread throughout the entire country, rather than stay confined within specific regions.

In addition, the example of cappelletti and tortellini further illustrates the different food traditions in the different regions of Italy. In the present-day region of Emilia-Romagna, the noodle dishes of cappelletti and tortellini are filled differently (Montanari 42). In Romagna, cappelletti are filled with cheese as a result of the sheep culture in the region. On the other hand, in Emilia tortellini are filled with meat as a result of the native pork culture 42). Both regions incorporate filled pasta dough into their regional cuisine, but the different fillings are a nod to their separate histories of occupation. While the landscape differences between Emilia and Romagna contributed to this difference, the fact that the Longobards occupied Emilia and the Byzantines ruled Romagna is a likely cause of different food traditions illustrated by these stuffed pasta dishes (42-43).

The noodle is an important cultural element of both Italian and Chinese societies and their respective cultures. Both the Chinese and Italians demonstrate their commitment to high quality food made with love and expert-level care through noodles. In the article “Noodles, Traditionally and Today”, we learn that there are thousands of noodle varieties in China (Zhang and Ma 210). These noodles are crafted with great care and hard work, such as with bamboo pole noodles and hand pulled noodles. Within Italy, there are hundreds of varieties of noodle shapes, from capellini to bucatini to the classic spaghetti. There must be thousands of unique pasta dish varieties after accounting for sauce varieties. The overwhelming variety of noodle shapes and forms indicates that both Chinese and Italian culture truly value the art and form of noodles. In Italian culture, “different shapes of pasta, although alike in substance, produce different effects on the taste buds” (Montanari10-11). There is an understanding in Italian culture that the form of food, such as pasta, will profoundly affect the taste or flavor of a dish. With this belief, the number of pasta shapes that have been created over the years clearly illustrates the Italian commitment to seeking excellent taste and flavor in food. In Chinese culture, the value of the balancing of the five flavors in conjunction with the hard work in making noodles illustrates the Chinese dedication to quality food.

Noodles play an important role in Italian culture because pasta is the food most associated with Italian food culture by both Italians themselves and by people throughout the world. The traditional pasta and tomato sauce is a great example of the signature of Italian cuisine. Italians, perhaps more than any other culture in the world, perfected the art of drawing from a variety of gastronomical cultures to create superb food. There is great debate over which part of the world first invented noodles, and we may never truly know if China or Italy or the Middle East created the first proper noodle. Regardless, the Italians took the noodle tradition and perfected the production and drying of noodles and pasta. Tomatoes and tomato sauce were brought to Italy from the Americas, and they are not native to Italy. However, because of the masterful Italian cooking techniques, pasta and tomato sauce will forever be associated with Italy’s cultural identity. Pasta is the perfect “metaphor for the unity and variety of Italian alimentary styles” (Montanari 160). The Italians’ ability to draw from different gastronomical cultures is an important part of Italian food culture, and the noodle personifies this ability more than any other food.

Noodles have an incredibly important position in Chinese food culture because of the Chinese are an incredibly food-oriented culture. Food is interwoven into all of the significant Chinese customs, rituals, life events, and holidays. Noodles in China are especially imbued with customs and meaning. For example, many noodle dishes have other names that reflect their place in Chinese culture rather than the food in the dish Qishan minced noodles are also known as “sister-in-law noodles” because it is said that a poor student was able to pass his civil service exam only because of the great noodles his sister-in-law prepared for him. Later, many people tried to cook the same noodle dish to seek success for their sons in their exam. So, the noodles also took on another epithet of “ashamed son noodles,” in reference to parents’ shame when the same noodle dish did not lead to their son’s success. The naming of noodle dishes shows that many noodles dishes are linked with other aspects of life, and the food is always connected to other aspects of life. There are many other noodle dishes that are forever linked with certain traditions or customs in Chinese culture. For example, longevity noodles or long-life noodles, are served at birthday parties. In “Bite of China: Staples Foods”, we see that there is a beautiful noodle tradition that is performed at a 70th birthday celebration in one village in China. Since long noodles are associated with a long life, every member of a village is served a bowl of noodles upon arriving at a birthday party. Each person picks the longest noodle out of his or her bowl, and places it in the bowl of the man who is celebrating his birthday. The birthday celebration can only be complete after the man eats the bowl of the longest noodles. Here, the noodles symbolize the love and good wishes from every member of the community to this man. It is clear that noodles in Chinese culture are much more than the ingredients, they are a special food that represents love and can guide one through both big and small life events.

Both Italian and Chinese cultures emphasize the importance of eating meals with loved ones. In China, it is incredibly important to eat food with family. In Italy, a big part of the Mediterranean diet tradition is eating with others, whether that be friends or family. The amount of hard work, care, and attention to detail that goes into selecting, preparing, and eating noodles is more than the sum of its parts: it is love. There is love that goes into preparing noodles well in both Italian and Chinese culture. In the story “Crossing the Bridge”, a family chef labored over many noodle dishes and experimented with many techniques and styles of cooking until he found the perfect technique to keep noodles warm for the beloved son in the family (Durack 182-183). In the “Art of the Feast”, we see the time and care the women in an Italian family put into shaping hundreds of little tortellini by hand. In the same episode, we see two men go around to several different shops over the course of a whole day to collect the perfect ingredients for just one noodle dinner, as is common in Italian culture. Making noodles with pride and care for others is an act of love. In “A Bite of China: Staple Foods”, a cameraman named Bih-Bo lives in Beijing with his wife, while his two daughters, parents, and parents-in-law live far away in the countryside. He is only able to see his parents and twin daughters once a year, at the Spring Festival celebration. He mentions that his favorite dish is his mother’s braised noodles. He explains that the traditional noodles and jaozi that his family makes together during this time will remain a “seed planted in [his children’s] soul” that they can always remember and think of as a happy memory with family. All of these examples stand in stark contrast to the American culture of fast food, where speed and hunger gratification are valued highest, and there is much less emphasis on the source of ingredients or what it actually takes to bring wonderful food to the table.

What is the noodle/what are noodles?

The noodle is a combination of flour and some liquid that can be shaped into hundreds of shapes, with varying thickness and hundreds of textures, by a variety of methods such as pulling, pressing, and casting with molds. The noodle provides a healthy form of nutrition and sustenance for all people across the world’s many cultures. It is a nutritious, wholesome food that comes from a global gastronomic tradition of quality, care, wholesome nutrition, and love. Throughout human creativity and hard work, society has created thousands of different noodle dishes.

Noodles have fed people for hundreds of years, during times of prosperity and times of desperation. They can convey nonverbal messages such as well-wishes, good luck, celebration, and love. When the noodle is prepared with love, it can bond families, build friendships, and strengthen communities.



Ageing Master Craftsmen


Ageing Master Craftsmen

Eunho Seo

Blog 2

CHN 375W/ ITAL 376W


In Tokyo Japan, there was a master craftsman of knife making. He was 70 years old and he was running his small and worn forge with his young son. The blacksmith’s workshop has been inherited by his father, grandfather, great grandfather… and so on. And he was also planning to hand down the forge and recipe for his reputable knives to his son. He was already excited about his son working with him, hammering the molten metal together to produce the masterpiece. The secrete method was nothing but putting more effort and time to repeat hand hammering for numerous times, which other blacksmiths simply replaced the process with machines. Still, his knife was respected by the renowned chefs in Tokyo.

Even though the blacksmith made his knives with full pride, his son always complained about the slow and arduous process of making the knives. One day, the son told the blacksmith, “I want to get a job in the knife factory and learn the easier way to make knives. This way, we can make more money and supply more knives to people.” Despite his father’s persuasion, he was very stubborn about his plan and started to pack his belongings. The blacksmith was extremely upset with his son’s idea, but he had no power left to run the forge alone. He got sick from sadness and decided to stop producing the knives.

One of the chefs in Tokyo visited the blacksmith to purchase a knife. The chef was very famous in Tokyo for making the best sushi in Japan and he owned 8 restaurants only in Tokyo. And the chef has been only using the knife that he bought from the blacksmith but this time, he realized that the old man can’t produce the knives anymore. The blacksmith told the entire story about how his ancestors started the business and ran it till today but it had to be closed because of his son’s different perspective on making knives. The chef quietly listened to his story and told the blacksmith that he will return at night when the blacksmith’s son come back from work at the knife factory.

Later that night, the chef returned to the blacksmith’s place as he promised. He brought his cooking tools and some raw ingredients. He quietly set up his cooking tools in the blacksmith’s kitchen while the son was excited to see the famous sushi chef in his house. Oddly, the chef brought two knives and he started to slice the tuna with one knife and made a sushi. The son asked, “What is the other knife for?” The chef didn’t answer; he instead used the other knife and made the same tuna sushi on the other plate. He bluntly said, “Taste both sushi and tell me how they taste.” With curiosity in his eyes, the son ate two sushi as the chef instructed.

“They taste differently! How is this possible? I thought they were made out of the same ingredients. The one I ate first tastes much better than the other one.” said the son. He started to browse among the cooking tools but didn’t quite find the answer for the mystery. The chef finally opened his mouth, “The first piece you ate was the one that I cut tuna with your father’s knife. But the second piece was cut by the knife that was produced in your knife factory.” The son still looked bewildered. “Convenience is important. And mass production is also important to lower the cost. But the key recipe for making anything, like sushi that I make, is the earnestness of the producer and that is why I became the best sushi chef in Japan. And your father’s knife also has his soul in it and that is why the first piece tastes better than the second piece.”

In the early morning of the next day, the son started fire on his father’s small and worn forge. The blacksmith looked at his son through a window and took his hammer with a huge smile on his face.

From the story, we can learn that not everything made with modern technology is the best way to produce especially for things related with food. Throughout the course, we learned that food conveys lots of meanings. There are history, family, and culture behind the food and machine production may lose some of the messages that are embedded in the food. In the class video, ‘The Art of Making Noodles by Hand,’ it talks about how young people in the town of China prefer machine produced noodles as it is more convenient and therefore no young people in the town wants to learn how to make noodles by hand. After watching the video, I felt bitterness about disappearing traditions in the world. Through globalization, the originality of a nation tends to mingle with another country’s culture. And I personally feel anxiety whenever I witness the disappearing traditions.

While I was creating this story, I leaned about the young culture of China, which prefers convenience than effort. I understand this changing culture as it is also seen in my own culture. In Korea, there are lots of traditions endangered such as Jaesa, the ceremony to respect spirit, is performed by less and less families. Additionally, Korean national holidays such as Chooseok (Thanks giving) and Seolnal (New Years) merely seems to be like vacations without any cultural meanings. Whenever I witness these evidences of extinguishing ethnic originalities in Korea, I felt inconvenience as if my cultural DNA is also disappearing because of my laziness. By writing this story about the blacksmith in Tokyo, I tried to convey the importance of protecting our cultural DNA from mutation. Technological improvement is significant for the globe, but I hope it doesn’t deteriorate our originalities.

Blog Post 2-The Historical significance of Noodles

United by and born out of a dough made by mixing flour and water. Diversified in its shape, size, thickness and use of ingredients. Propagated by industrialization and globalization. Molded by years of history, cultural influences and people’s imaginations – The noodle is truly a culinary phenomenon. I enjoyed the succinct nature of the first two dictionary definitions introduced to us during class compared to the wordiness of the pasta definition, but felt that all three failed to encapsulate the essence of the Noodle and that they lacked some much needed context. I thus propose the above mentioned description of the Noodle, which is precise and accounts for its background.

Noodles are relished as feijoada in Brazil, spätzle in Germany, ramen, soba and udon in Japan, mixed with spices in Ethiopia and prepared in many other forms throughout the world (I.P.O 19-20). However, the two paramount nations that are almost synonymous with the term noodles are China and Italy. It is a staple food in both these countries and as a result Italy and China are currently some of the leading consumers of this cereal food. What is now enjoyed in every household, due to its healthy and inexpensive nature, was formerly considered a privileged food source. This is evident in Shu Xi’s “Rhapsody on Pasta” which outlines that during the early Han dynasty ‘Bing’ was exclusively eaten as a snack food by emperors in China (Knechtges 448). Similarly, in Italy, as noted in the “Encyclopedia of Pasta”, pasta was previously reserved for the richer members of society who could afford better ingredients (De Vita 2). The journey of Noodles and pasta, transitioning from a limited consumer base to becoming a household item, parallels each other. It was only after the invention of new drying techniques in Italy and rotary mills in China that this food became a principal food source for these societies. Noodles evolved from a homemade luxury item to an affordable machine made entity. These industrial-economic changes are just one of the many parameters by which noodles have developed over the years. Noodles thus have an ever evolving nature embodied by its various shapes, methods of preparation, complimentary sauces, economic status etc.

Noodles originated in the early Han dynasty in China and since then they have become deeply intertwined with the health, culture, traditions, superstitions and folklore of Chinese natives. Some noodles have stories associated with them which elevate them from being merely a part of one’s diet to dishes that represent profound customary meanings. As a consequence, legends linked to them have translated into everlasting Chinese traditions. Seafood noodles are made to ease the pain of ailing individuals, Qishan minced noodles are prepared by parents to seek success and fame for their children and Guangxi noodles are enjoyed when uniting with old friends. In China food is also used as a means of celebration and festivity. Unique plates of food are prepared to celebrate significant occasions and festivals. The occasions of marriage and moving into a new house are commemorated by eating noodles with gravy (Na Zhang 210).  Birthdays are celebrated by eating lengthy strands of longevity noodles, all party goers place the longest noodle from their plates into the bowl of the person being celebrated, which symbolize a long and wholesome life (The Story of Staple Food). Chinese food is further linked to its medicinal properties and noodles are a healthy energy providing food. Moreover, noodles are consumed with nutritious vegetables, gravies and proteins which make them a favored meal choice and contribute to its widespread intake (Na Zhang 212). It is due to these traditional practices and celebratory associations along with its nutritional values that noodles have acquired such a distinctive place in Chinas history and in the hearts of the Chinese people.

The origin of Pasta in Italy is a highly debated topic. While some believe that Marco Polo brought noodles back from China, which were then adapted into the Italian pasta, others think that pasta already existed during the Roman-Etruscan era. Although Italians may be split in their opinions relating to the origin of the pasta they are unified in their view of pasta being a fundamental pillar in their regional and culinary history. ‘Nothing says Italy like its food, and nothing says Italian food like pasta.’ (Justin Demetri) Pasta in a way contributes to Italy’s identity as a country, moreover it also contributes to Italy’s regional identities. Italy is a country made up of many unified provinces, each section was shaped and transformed by different factors such as its topography, its administrative occupations and varying climate conditions. The culmination of all these influences resulted in distinctive pasta dishes coming up in different parts of the country (Latini 158-159). These dishes thus represent the history of their regions and have become a symbol of their individualities much like the lighthouses we discussed in class. After the mechanization of the industry pasta became easily affordable and individuals of all classes had access to it. Furthermore, the health benefits of pasta such as prevention of chronic diseases, its satiating nature, low glycemic content, etc. caused more and more individuals to adopt this plant based product into their diets (I.P.O). The economic cost, nutritional profits and symbolic significance of pasta is what makes pasta such an integral part of Italy’s food culture.

I believe that pasta is only truly recognized or defined if seen in the context of factors such as its varying shapes, regional differences, underlying climatic conditions and varying landscapes, diversity in preparation and accompanying ingredients, foreign and cultural influences, primary ingredients, industrialization, economic value and health benefits. The pasta we get on a plate is merely an end product of this journey and in order to rightfully understand the significance of pasta we have to understand its history.

Noodles: Evolving and Changing

Dylan Frank

The noodle is both global and multidimensional: Noodles are consumed across diverse geographies and also represent symbolically far more than the sum of their physical parts. In countries where noodles are consumed, differences in ingredient make-up, form, and styles of preparation have contributed to the formation of regional and national identities. For example, when individuals living in a given geography choose to consume noodles, they often prefer to do so in ways similar to those living around them. In this way, the preparation and consumption of noodles by different groups of people further contributes to the noodle’s effect of establishing group identities. Moreover, noodles in countries around the world are still continuously evolving with the advent of new technologies, increased prominence of globalization, and constantly changing definitions of modern lifestyles. In the cases of China, Italy, and the United States, geography, industrialization, and migration are three factors that have played a sizable role in each country’s noodle narrative. In addition to examining these three aforementioned factors, there are other prominent ones that I hope to examine in greater depth on a country-by-country basis.

China: For the Chinese case, tradition and symbolism have also played an especially prominent role in the evolution of the noodle over time.

While the noodle is enjoyed across China, the ways noodles are prepared can differ greatly by geographic region or even city. According to Na Zhang’s article Noodles, Traditionally and Today, Chinese noodles originated in the Han Dynasty more than 4,000 years ago and also serve to “reflect the cultural traditions and customs of China” (Zhang, 1). Moreover, the noodle increased in popularity in China after the Industrial Revolution – for the Chinese case specifically, the advent of modern machinery in China allowed the noodle to transition from “a traditional handicraft industry to mass production” (Zhang, 1). Moreover, in the case of certain types of Chinese noodle dishes migration has played an especially prominent role in their origination and execution: Lanzhou la mian, or “Lanzhou handmade noodles” serve as an example of a situation where migration (in this case, Islamic migration across the Silk Road) directly gave way to a new type of dish. The trait that I seek to examine in further detail for the Chinese case is “cultural symbolism.”

While many Chinese noodle dishes have longstanding historical origins and traditions surrounding them, some dishes have stayed the same over time while others have kept similarities but changed. Notably, Saozi noodles are one dish that has changed little. According to A Bite of China, in the Chinese city of Qishan, Shaanxi, Saozi noodles have a 3000 year-old history and come with their unique noodle narrative. Notably, many Chinese noodle dishes also have their origins in folklore as well: According to Na Zhang, Saozi noodles are also called ashamed son noodles, a name that is likely based on a story as well. Moreover, the five main ingredients of Saozi noodles are imbued with deep symbolism: Fungus is “Black,” tofu is “White,” yellow eggs are “wealth,” red carrots are “prosperous life,” and lastly garlic sprouts symbolize “vitality.”

By contrast, dandan noodles also embody many cultural traditions but have arguably experienced a greater evolution than Saozi noodles with regards to how they are prepared and served. For example, while “dandan” used to refer only to the fact that street vendors carried the ingredients to assemble these noodles around on bamboo poles in Chengdu, the recipe for them has now become more-or-less standardized worldwide. Additionally, the ways of serving dandan noodles have changed greatly: Instead of just having them on street corners, dandan noodles can now be found in restaurants throughout China and around the world. In this way, dandan noodles serve as an example of a Chinese noodle dish with historical symbolism that has changed with modern times. In summary, the Chinese noodle narrative is both stagnant and changing: While some dishes remain the same since their origination, others have changed over time from their historical origins.

Italy: Shape and functionality are especially important in the Italian case with regards to the evolution of the noodle.

Like China, noodles in Italy change based off of local tastes and ingredient availability and are altogether extremely diverse.

The history of pasta in Italy goes back thousands of years. In doing so, it also reflects the influences of invasions and regional geographies. For example, the article “History of Pasta” from Life in Italy notes that Italian pasta on the island of Sicily might often contain ingredients such as “raisins,” thus serving as an example of how the Middle Eastern influence of invasions can be seen in Italy’s food. Moreover, in thinking about the regional geographies, the pasta that is enjoyed can differ significantly by Italian region or state. This is because of two main considerations: 1) Invasion, and the migration associated with it; 2) The presence of micro-climates in Italy.

Historically, Italy started with a type of pasta that was oven-baked. However, Arab and Chinese influences also helped shape Italy’s culinary noodle narrative. German and French influences impacted Italian pasta as well. Moreover, microclimates and provincial geographies even further influence the differences in the different types of noodles consumed throughout Italy. For example, those from Emilia-Romagna may serve their pasta with a “cream sauces or a simple sauce of butter and sage,” yet in the Piedmont region of Northwest Italy, pasta may be served “with a butter sauce” and “covered with slices of decadent local black truffles.” While Italian regions can differ greatly by language, geography, and culture, one can say that they are all arguably unified by their love of good cuisine, specifically pasta. Immigration as well has greatly shaped Italian food culture, particularly with regards to the example of Porto Palazzo, a market neighborhood in Turin, Italy where people from all over the world have set up ethnic restaurants and shops in coexistence with the local Italian population. Additionally, with regards to industrialization, one must consider that Italians rarely make pasta fresca (fresh pasta) anymore at home. The advent of the pasta machine, as well as the prominence of commercial dried pasta, have made it so that time-strapped modern Italians no longer see the need. Continuing on the trend of industrialization in Italy, both machinery and the importation of wheat have also helped shape Italy’s noodle narrative immensely.

The importance of shape is arguably the key differentiating element within the Italian noodle narrative. For example, according to Things and Ideas, “form leads to different flavor” and “there is no form without substance, and no substance without form” (Things and Ideas, 11). For example, different shapes have different capabilities with regards to their intended purposes (i.e. one might hold sauce better, be suited to specific preparations, etc.).. Additionally, different shapes of noodles in Italian cuisine also hit the eater’s taste buds in different ways. In doing so, they thus trigger different sensory reactions (i.e: a thin spaghetti noodle will hit the tongue in a different way than a thick rigatoni or spiraled fusilli). While certain shapes of pasta in Italy have been obtained through the advent of machines, others have been made by hand for centuries. Even if the materials comprising the noodles in Italy are the same (i.e. flour, water, eggs (sometimes), other ingredients (occasionally)), the fact that form influences taste and function to such a high degree is possibly unique to Italian cuisine.

Interestingly, for the Italian case, different shapes of pasta can also reflect identities. For example, the Neapolitans are often referred to by other Italians as the “macaroni eaters,” thus showcasing how something as simple as the shape of a pasta can become a social identifier. Others shapes of Italian pasta have stories as well (another example, manicotti,  came about through the Italian-American community). Thus, the Italian noodle narrative is influenced by shape, form, and function as well as the aforementioned factors of geography, migration, and industrialization.

United States: For the United States, the evolution of the noodle has also been prominently influenced by adoptions of foreign culinary traditions and innovations in processed food.

American cuisine is influenced by cultures from around the world. This is true in the case of noodles as well: An “American” noodle narrative has evolved greatly over time and contains influences from around the globe. A quick Google search for “American Noodles” reveals photos of different types of noodles from around the world. In the case of the United States, American cuisine was heavily influenced not only by the indigenous peoples of the US but also by individuals who came to the US as immigrants who brought their food traditions with them. If one might choose to go to a recipe website (such as this one, which I consulted:, one can see a list of “American” noodle recipes with two distinctively “American” things: 1) Highly processed foods; 2) Global influences. Additionally, even popular American pasta dishes such as “mac and cheese” are actually influenced by other cuisines (in this example, British food). Lastly, American fast-food adaptations of noodles also play off of global cuisines, including those of China (ex: Panda Express, your neighborhood take-out joint, etc.) and Italy (Olive Garden, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Carraba’s Italian Grill, etc.).

Notably, like China and Italy, regional differences in American cuisine do still exist (ex: you may find a Cajun-influenced pasta in Louisiana or a shellfish-heavy version in New England), but for the realm of noodles they’re arguably far less significant. Yet, within the context of industrialization, the American noodle narrative has arguably been shaped even more so than China’s or Italy’s. For example, with regards to considering American processed food, the example of Kraft Mac and Cheese comes to mind. With its fluorescent orange cheese powder and numerous preservatives, the product has been engineered to fit a busy American lifestyle that values convenience and budget-conscientiousness. While China and Italy both have processed noodles as well, this invention in my mind was uniquely American. (Note: China specifically has many forms of highly processed foods, including noodles, yet the traditions associated with Chinese noodles form a more iconic part of a “Chinese noodle narrative” cultural identity than processed ones have).

Noodles in 1 Image: Globe

Noodles in a Single Image: Globe

Image Source:


Nooodle: A String That Connects People to People

The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo are burial catacombs in Palermo, Sicily in southern Italy. Around eight thousand corpses in varied states of decay inhabit the site. While there exist other historically fascinating catacombs in Europe, Capuchin Catacomb is known for its perfect preservation of bodies — the particularly dry atmosphere allowed for the natural mummification. Such climate also brought about the birth of dry pasta. From the Middle Ages, southern Italy has been the birthplace of different shapes and varieties of dry pasta; made from durum wheat, its firm texture that remains even through the cooking process to give you a crunchy al dente bite which is outstanding.

In Bologna, however, the pasta culture is drastically different. Tortellini, sometimes also described “belly button pasta”, are ring-shaped pasta typically stuffed with a mix of meat, cheese, or a combination of both. Fresh packed tortellini is found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket as it has a much shorter shelf life. Because it’s more expensive, people often assume that fresh pasta is better than dried, but that is not true. The comparison is apples to oranges; they are just different types of pasta, and certain types of pasta are more suited to certain kinds of sauces and cooking methods. While dry pasta was a product of warm breeze from the Mediterranean Sea, northern Italy boasts a vast array of local cheeses. Both identities of Chinese and Italian food come from its diversity by regional differences; Italians place strong emphasis on fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, cooked simply and seasoned well. The “regionality” makes it easy to understand why fresh, local foods are the choice of cooks in both Italy and China. The Alpine regions produce a great number of unique cheeses — the famous Gorgonzola and Asiago cheese come from northern Italy as well.  Because northern Italy is marked by humid summer and harsh winter, its pasta culture revolved around the regionality; instead of dry pasta, local ingredients such as meat and cheese are utilized, so pasta is kept fresh.

Coal has supplied more than 70 percent of China’s energy for the past 50 years and has shown no sign of waning. China first began burning coal for heat, cooking , and smelting steel during the Han dynasty. Usage of high-flame coal single-handedly changed the culinary culture of China — stir frying, in which ingredients are fried in very hot oil while being stirred in wok, emerged as a groundbreaking technique. While minimizing the destruction of nutrients, stir-frying is exceptional at bringing out essence of ingredients. Noodles with various thickness and shapes were experimented, giving birth to an array of new dishes. Near my high school in Taipei was a small store called ‘Shanxi Noodle House’; the texture and feel of these noodles stayed stubbornly in my mind for years. The owner of this place practiced the art form for years to master — noodle dishes were served stir-fried or in broth. My classmates and I would always struggle to choose a dish here, and we would always end up ordering 5 different dishes and sharing.

To both Chinese and Italian people, ‘noodle’ is a way of life. Noodle reflects their culture, regions, cities, and people that cook them. Just the way southern Italians had to adopt to their dry weather and invent dry pasta, northern Italians leveraged local produce and sticked to fresh pasta. Shapes of noodles vary according to regions and many cultural regions, not to mention the different sauces and broth that are accompanied. A dish can tell you a lot about the region — but there seems to be one governing principle. Noodle is a comfort dish for a community: ‘Fare una spaghettata’ is an Italian expression literally translated as ‘to eat pasta’, but in reality is a whimsical way of saying “Getting together to eat and having a good time”. ‘无面不 (wu mian bu huan),’ similarly, is a saying that can be loosely translated to ‘no satisfaction without noodles.’ To both Chinese and Italian people, noodle is more than just staple food; noodle brings people together and therefore plays such an integral role in the food culture. Noodle symbolizes the communal spirit. Noodle embodies the regional identity. Noodle is a lifestyle in which people mingle together.

I made Taiwanese Beef Noodle soup.
I made Vietnamese Pho.
I made Korean Bibim noodles.


I made ragu pasta.

Wikipedia defines noodle as ‘staple food made from unleavened dough which is stretched, extruded, or rolled flat and cut into one of a variety of shapes.’ As an avid cook, I define noodle as a string that connects people to people; I went on my food instagram (@choidiningclub) to see how many noodle dishes I’ve made for my friends. The graphic I designed symbolizes ethnic identities that reside under the name of ‘noodle’ and the communal spirit. Noodle dishes are usually for groups and for togetherness.

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.

Noodles: A Song Praising Life and History

Yujing Wang
Through this week’s reading, we ventured down a culinary journey into Chinese and Italian regions, learning the unique pasta recipes of their customs. I’m convinced that noodles of a specific region have become more than a beacon which attracts tourists, but they consummate both the geographical character and history (including industrial evolution, folklore and the people’s anticipation of everyday life). In short, though one may see noodles as the most common cuisine, its cultural significance goes far beyond a cheap but nutritious product.
The methods of cooking noodles reflect more than the present tasting predilection of a certain region but gives us an irreplaceable insight on its people’s identity. We’ve read about Dan-dan noodles of Sichuan, Crossing-the-bridge noodles of Yunnan, Bamboo-pole noodles of Guangdong, macaroni of the Naples, even instant noodles that prevail around the world and countless kinds of noodles that serve as a symbol of their birthplace. Some of the articles focus on the author’s encounter with the food, others emphasize the intriguing stories behind the dish. In Dunlop’s passage introducing his experience in Chengdu, he mentions the origins of a variety of “small eats”, such as “Zhong boiled dumplings” and “Lai rice balls”, all named after the cook who had invented them, these later popular street foods are no doubt leaving their mark in Chengdu’s culinary history, and with them the pride of common workmen who have dedicated their lives to make food that please their customers. The tale behind “Crossing-the-bridge rice noodles” may be a folklore to give the recipe a legendary touch, but it nevertheless engraves the toils of ancient Chinese scholars and the pressure they face when attending the Imperial exam. On the other hand, the macaroni of Naples was a product of industrial evolution, it signified the ending of an era of hunger and poverty, as a luxurious commodity became affordable to common households. I could only imagine the joy of Neapolitans when cheap macaroni first emerged in the markets. Noodles certainly do not speak, but they easily answer where they come from and what they’ve been through. From the readings, despite the writer’s identity as a foreigner or a native, they seem to have no trouble acquiring the recipe of the pasta and therefore were able to share it in their published work, and the notion of these regional customized food taking the role of bridges between nations thrill me. Nowadays, one may not have to be in a region to know about it, and the easiest way is by tasting its cuisine and learning the story behind the food.
Noodles in Chinese culture “is not only a source of human nutrition, it also plays many roles in the aspects of religion, economy and etc.” (Na Zhang, Noodles, traditionally and today, 1) Chinese “cakes” that later evolved into the thin noodles that we are familiar today have been an efficient way of transforming wheat into both healthy and tasty aliment Chinese labels their nation as the realm of ritual, many ceremonies from ancient times can’t proceed without the proper food. Noodles also dutifully played their part in such a society, different kinds of noodles where served on diverse occasions, some for a wish of good health and longevity, others which symbol friendship and filial piety. Although in modern times people tend to neglect these meanings and consume noodles due to fondness of the taste father than the significance, the stories behind this staple food most certainly responds to the core values of Chinese culture. Noodles in China remind the people of who they are and what they treasure.
Pasta of Italy, on the other hand, records the country’s social and economical progress, as Italy herself, like China, has many regions and was united into a sovereign nation in the 1800s. Pasta is a reminder of the nation’s glorious history, back in the Roman era when she conquered Europe and certain regions of Africa and Asia, and therefore different kinds of Italian Pasta bear names that are introduced to the nation from foreign cultures. The popularization of Italian pasta was also closely connected to the nation’s industrial and economic developments “Homemade pasta moved early from family kitchens into the workshops of the mills.” (Vita, Encyclopedia of Pasta, 7) Where machines where invented to accelerate the production process, making pasta affordable to commoners.
As my blog’s title indicate I would describe noodles as a song that one doesn’t need to understand the lyrics. The taste of food, similar to the rhythm of songs, is a universal language shared and enjoyed by people in every corner of the world. Noodles narrate the struggles of people and emphasizes on the value they hold important. I would define noodles as a cultural bridge, connecting more than regions oceans away, but also the past to present. I would use a painting of Mondrian to represent noodles; although they share simple compositions, they possess a complicated and connected nature.

Piet Cornelies Mondrian, Red, Blue, Yellow, 1941

Noodles: A Mode of Transportation by Tanya Rajabi

There is no doubt that the noodle is quite directly used as a means of temporary nourishment for the day. However, through, legends, history, and culture it becomes evident that the idea behind the noodle serves the greater purpose of being a permanent means of well-being, advancement, and success in physical, social, and spiritual aspects in life. Although used as a staple part of diets across the world, their uses are distinct among every region, as are their integral role in shaping their respective cultures. Thus, we come to the conclusion that a single identity cannot be used in reference to noodles. Rather, the definition of noodles and the cultural implications beyond its physical definition is unique among regions and is constantly changing within regions themselves.

The beauty of having such a dish so ancient like noodles is that the dish travels with the culture and civilization through time. In this way, noodles are not a dish consumed in Chinese culture, but rather is a way to demonstrate and maintain the Chinese traditions of the past, while simultaneously being molded to portray changing times. The nomenclature of noodles, the method of consumption used, and when they are made throughout the year have proven to be one of the most enriching ways of telling the history and customs of the country. Looking at simply the nomenclature of dishes involving, the Chinese ideals of respect for elders and parents, desire for children’s success, and camaraderie can be derived, which is still resonated within Chinese families today. For example, the name dutiful son’s noodles used in the place of seafood noodles was derived because of the ancient story of Yi Yin feeding his sick and bedridden mother a soup made with noodles, chicken, pig bones, and seafood (Noodles, Traditionally and Today). The traditional value of respecting elders, which I, myself, have vividly noticed when spending time with my Chinese friends, is thus represented within this dish and serves as a reminder of the etiquette heavily emphasized in Chinese culture today.

Furthermore, noodles were both directly and indirectly the cause of industrialization and development within China and Italy. The yearn to increase noodle varieties and develop better and more efficient techniques to make and create noodles resulted in faster methods of cooking and new devices, ultimately leading to more time to focus elsewhere and in other sectors of society. Therefore, noodles have in a way been a driving force engrained within not only culture but also within government and economics. Whether new developments were intentional or accidental, each carry a story that contributes to the cultural and industrial wealth of the society as well as attributes to the ingenuity and dedication of the people. We can see these new developments in the story behind the accidental creation of the Yi noodles by Yi Bingshou during the Qing dynasty, which served as a framework for the creation of modern day instant noodles by Momofuku Ando hundreds of years later (Noodles, Traditionally and Today). Not only did the invention of instant noodles cause a revolution in eating habits and fast food, but through various settlements and lawsuits, it also sparked competition and regulation in markets which undoubtedly benefited the economy.

The creation of the noodle itself and the time spent consuming it must be truly taken notice of in order to understand the importance of family and friendship within Italian and Chinese households. The foundation of the Mediterranean food pyramid, which is used as the framework of Italian diets, is spending time and enjoying the company of family and friends, emphasizing how important camaraderie is within Italian culture. In his book, Made in Italy, Giorgio Locatelli reminisced about how growing up, spending time with his family involved gathering in the kitchen and making homemade pasta to share with those he cared about. It is apparent that each noodle created served as a celebration of family and life, reflecting the convivial values of Italian culture.

There is no way to truly encompass within a single definition the wide breadth of the taste of a noodle, the adventures the noodle has experienced while traveling across the world, its wisdom gained through the passing of time, the culture it has carried through history. However, I believe an extremely paraphrased and incomplete definition would be something along the lines of: a global, staple food made in a various ways with a variety of ingredients and is used as a vehicle of transporting people of today to the past, a method of bringing the traditions of the past to the present, and a means of celebrating culture and each other in between.

All in all, noodles have served the purpose of fueling people when a country and the civilization depending on it needed fueling, as well as uniting a civilization together when a country needed harmony. From references to various forms of noodles in ancient texts and images in China and Italy as well as its maintenance not only in diets in those aforementioned countries but also in diets around the world, there is no room left to deny how powerful the ever-evolving noodle has been in shaping global culinary culture. As ideas and materials were exchanged around the world, as resources were in surplus, depleted, or introduced, and as wars and invasions took place within history, the noodle was there to hold these occurrences within its grains, whilst altering slightly, in order to forever serve as a reminder of history, culture, and celebration of life.

I have chosen the image below to represent the multi-faceted noodle because it identifies noodles as a global food as it demonstrates them in both their Chinese and Italian varieties. Furthermore, it has shown the development of faster methods of creating noodles, showing just how far and progressed noodles have become in the present day.

The Cultural Significance of the Noodle (Carlos)

The noodle is an integral part of various cultures around the world. This particular food has a long and complicated history and has deep roots especially in China and Italy, both being large consumers of pasta. Blogger Justin Demetri writes how it is a myth that Marco Polo introduced pasta to Italy from China, a statement believed by many people in the world. In fact, from reading other sources, one can find that pasta actually appeared spontaneously in different parts of the world. Pasta was already popular in Italy among Etruscans and Romans. They called their pasta “lagane.” On the other hand, in China, records indicate that pasta emerged during the time of the Han dynasty. In this dynasty pasta was called “cake.” In both of these countries, the noodle has come to reflect the culture, regions, cities, and people that cook them. It has gained an individual identity while at the same time multiple identities.

The noodle reflects many characteristics of the Italian culture and history. For example, one way the noodle does this is through the name specific pasta is given. Some pasta names commemorate Italy’s war in Africa. The tripoline pasta was Libya inspired while the bengasini pasta was inspired by Benghazi. Also, some pasta have been named to honor the House of Savoy, the Italian throne from the unification before world war 2. Mafaldine pasta was named after Princess Mafalda and the Regine pasta was named to reflect the name queen. Its shape also reflects its name through its ruffled like edges like a queen’s crown. Industrialization also is reflected through pasta’s names as some have been named after machinery. The route pasta was named and shaped after the wheel while the eliche pasta was named after propellers. Pasta names were also being linked to city names. Prosperity and living conditions could be inferred from ingredients used in local pasta. For example, in Piedmont wealth could be observed in the tajarin pasta which was rich in egg. Noodles in Italy reflect a lot of the country’s history. Throughout the years, the noodle has come to symbolize unification in Italy as well as to embrace each distinct region.

In China, the noodle reflects culture through its heavy presence in Chinese traditions and stories. For example, longevity noodles are eaten on birthdays and the length of the noodle is used to represent prosperity and long life. Noodles with gravy are eaten during marriage or when a family moves to a new house as a symbol of flavored life. During the lunar new year on February 2nd, dragon head whisker noodles are eaten to ask for good weather. Sweet dumplings are eaten in the western festival, and rice-puddings in the Dragon boat festival. Some noodle names originated from folklore in China. For example, the dutiful son’s noodles were named after a son cured his sick mother by feeding her noodles. In another story, old friend noodles were used to cure a friend and has now come to symbolize friendship. In a story called Crossing the Bridge, the noodle demonstrates a chef’s resolve to feed his isolated master in an island. The story also highlights the noodles length and characteristics to serve as the foundation for other ingredients. Through these stories and traditions in China, we can see how the noodle shapes China’s beliefs and customs. The noodle is an integral part of their culture.

The noodle plays such an integral role in the food culture of both China and Italy due to its versatility and health benefits. Naturally coming from semolina or flour, pasta is a complex carbohydrate food that digests slowly. This offers a slow and steady source of energy that keeps a person full longer. Its versatility allows pasta to be paired with other ingredients in many different ways. Due to this reason, it has become a foundation for famous diets such as the Mediterranean Diet. On the larger scale, pasta benefits are heightened by the ingredients it can be paired with such as vegetables, sauces, and other proteins to create a balanced and heathy meal. This I believe is what makes pasta so great and used in many meals throughout the world.

Most dictionaries define the noodle in the normal technical way as something made from wheat or flour mixed with water and or eggs. Whiles this covers the technical part of the noodle, it fails to define the noodle’s cultural significance around the world and what it has become to this day. The noodle is no longer an individual being but has become part of a greater whole. If I were to define the noodle, I would use something close to Chef Felipe Rojas Lombardi’s definition, “a universal food, complimentary to many other foods, and adaptable to many cuisines around the world.”

I chose this image to represent the noodle because it demonstrates many things about the noodle. To begin with, it demonstrates the various shapes and sizes of the different kinds of noodles. Each noodle is unique in its shape and the place where it comes from. It also demonstrates the noodle’s ability as a whole, to be paired with many different ingredients to create unique and delicious dishes. Lastly, this image demonstrates that the noodle is universal, as these dishes are from various countries and not only from China and Italy.

Omnipresent Noodles

Noodles are a crucial part of one’s life regardless of their gender, race, and nationality. For example, China imported up to a high 18,000 kg of pasta in 2015, and each Italian is estimated to eat over sixty pounds of pasta. Although noodle consumptions are very high throughout the world, they all are a variety of noodles, all with different backgrounds based on their cultures, regions, and those who cook them. I believe that the consumptions of noodles are always high because they are affordable and can provide a very healthy meal, as it is a carbohydrate that can keep one fuller for longer and allows one to eat more vegetables and other nutritious add-ons. Also, noodles can be very versatile and can easily change and adapt to the ingredients that are present to specific countries, regions, and even the leftover ingredients residing in people’s refrigerator.

Noodles in Italy have a long history and mean a lot to them; it can even be seen in the amount of noodles they eat throughout their lifetime. I believe that pasta in Italy is a valuable asset for them due to the fact that they are a remembrance of the history of Italy. First, it represents the long and complex history of Italian pasta that has started from the Etrusco-Roman noodle, called lagane, a modern word for lasagna; there were several differences, such as the fact that it was oven-baked instead of boiled. The diversity and varied regional cuisine was influenced by the Arabic invasions of the 8th century. Also, it can be seen today that different regional differences in Italian cooking can be due to the different invasions that have occurred; Sicily has a heavy base on Saracens, while Fruili-Venezia Giulia has a strong Venetian taste that still reside in the cuisine. Second, pasta names and categories were named after important wars, emergence of science of machinery and more. This includes tripolini that was inspired by Libya, bengasini, inspired by Benghazi, and ruote, inspired by invention of wheels. All of these historical and groundbreaking events have led to the strong affection that they have for noodles. Also, I believe that the regional differences in noodles that they have all throughout Italy makes them special, as they are special for each region, based on the regional specialties, extrusions, and drying methods. A few days ago, I went to Whole Foods to make pasta and saw the different types of pasta that were present from all of the historical events that occurred. I would not have known that all the names have come from these types of events if I have not taken this course and learned about the backgrounds of these pasta.

Chinese noodles have a long history as well that originated from the Han dynasty, which has more than 4,000 years of history. Noodles, in fact, first started off as being referred to as cake. I believe that noodles mean their culture and lifestyle as there are many sayings, customs, traditions, that are based on noodles. I believe that one of the most famous examples would be the longevity noodles that Chinese eat on their birthdays, showing that longer the noodle, the longer you will live, and the longer you live, more longevity noodles you will get to eat! Another example are the noodles that hold a special value in their culture, such as the seafood noodles (dutiful son’s noodle), Dandan noodles (Sichuan), and sister-in-law noodles, also known as ashamed son noodles. All of these have anecdotes that hold a place in their cultural beliefs and lifestyles. Digging further into this topic, the sister-in-law noodles was a type of noodles that a scholar ate when he was preparing to pass the provincial civil service examination under the care of his sister-in-law. As people followed this tradition and failed, they started calling it the ashamed son noodles. I believe that stories, the historical, and cultural background that noodles have are the basis to their integral role that it has in China. While I was traveling Singapore, I ate a special glass noodles that was only eaten during Chinese Lunar New Year. The glass noodle was served with various meats and vegetables; everyone gathered around and started to mix them with their chopsticks together. This also was a cultural moment for me as I learned from my high school friends who were originally from that area.

Similar to what was explained above for noodles in China and Italy, Korean noodles have a long history that leads to its familiarity to people and attracting more affection. Janchiguksu is a long thin noodle served in a clear broth soup. This was typically served on birthdays or marriages as flour was considered to be very special and valuable. Similar to China’s saying, the long length of noodles had a meaning of long life and these saying are passed down until now, although now they can be eaten and found more easily.

If I were to create a definition of the world noodle, it would be “food typically created by egg or flour, that is boiled to be eaten with various seasonal/regional add-ons with sauce or in a soup that are likely to have a cultural background in each country that is based upon. By looking at different types of noodles in China, Italy, or Korea I believe that they all have a strong historical or cultural story that leads it to have such high affection by people. Noodles are essentially the simplest, yet the most versatile, staple food ingredient capable of encompassing the culinary of any culture, history, and region.