Beijing Sauteed Noodles with Minced Meat

(After Cold Noodle soup with Sophora Leaves, by Du Fu)
Yujing Wang
Emerald green are cucumbers, light purple is the sweet radish,
We shred them and leave them on the cutting board.
Handmade noodles are offered in the supermarket across the street,
They are bathed in cold water instantly after being boiled.
Minced pork is stir-fried with salted soybean sauce,
The toppings are evenly mixed with the noodles after being served.
I eat more, worrying that I may soon say farewell to my hometown.
Pleasant coolness is conveyed by the vegetables of summer,
A thick salty flavor from the sauce rolls on my tongue.
I urge my parents to have a try, proud of the dish I’ve accomplished.
I wish to bring the ingredients of this recipe when I travel,
Boasting about where I come from when such scent emerges from the kitchen.
My journey is long, I worry if the food could preserve,
But my love is deep and hard to alter.
A bowl of noodle may be trivial,
It’s connection with my city renders it irreplaceable.
Oceans away in Emory University,
My fellow students gulp the convenient meals from our cafeteria,
Anytime when I feel nostalgic,
This flavor is crucial for the occasion.
1. What piece did you choose to imitate?
I chose to imitate Du Fu’s poem, Cold Noodle soup with Sophora Leaves.
2. Why did you choose this piece?
The rhythm and method of description in Du Fu’s poem is beautiful, although I’ve never tried cold noodle soup with Sophora leaves, reading the poem renders a cool and refreshing sensation in the hot summer. In addition to admiring Du’s literature, I also believe that his poem deposits his good will to the common people. As he eulogizes the food, he wishes that people who hold high social positions (in the palace) also gain satisfaction from the same simple dish, a metaphor for pleading those who are in power to taste the bitterness of the commoners (食民间疾苦). I believe that it is a significant piece of noodle literature worth analyzing.
3. What did you learn about the culture of the original author through imitating his or her style?
Du Fu vividly portrayed a noodle dish which I haven’t heard of, his metaphorical illustration of color and taste renders his readers a mouth-watering experience. I’ve learned that noodles were popular among Chinese people since Tang dynasty, and a variety of recipes for handling noodles existed back then. From class Dr.Li claimed that noodles were the privileged food for aristocrats in the Han dynasty, but in this poem it seems that 400 years of history was more than enough to bring it into the households of common Chinese.
4. What did you learn about your own culture while writing?
This assignment gave me the chance to review the recipe of my childhood memories. I was also interested in the origins of Beijing Sauteed noodles with minced meat, and found out that it is a fairly new dish that prevailed in the Qing dynasty, chefs from Shandong province were hired by the Imperial family, and the noodle dish came from modifying Lu (鲁) recipes. Explaining why the toppings are heavy and salty.
5. Is there cultural DNA embedded in the piece you read and in your piece? How does this DNA manifest in the texts?
Yes. In the final sentences of Du Fu’s piece, the author uses noodles to convey his deep concerns for his fellow countrymen. Caring for the vulnerable a virtue that is crucial to ancient Chinese literates, and a spirit that still inspires Chinese scholars till this day. While my piece focuses more on my nostalgic feeling towards my hometown through making and eating the food.

Putting a Twist on It by Akshitha Adhiyaman

Green are the fresh coriander leaves,

Picked from our home-grown garden, sent straight into the kitchen. 

We rip open a box of penne pasta from the pantry,

And place them into a pot of boiling hot water with a sprinkle of salt. 

Black pepper, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and garam masala sizzle together in the pan,

Our mouths water at the aroma of traditional Indian spices.

The deep orange liquid stands out bright against the dull pots, 

the vegetables chopped in thin slices marinate in the bubbling sauce. 

Licking the ladle, my eyes widened in wonder, 

I urged my brothers to taste, shoving the spoon in their face with excitement. 

I wanted to run around to every house, 

So that everyone I knew could experience the dance of my taste buds. 

I knew my family would finish the meal in minutes if I went anywhere, 

So instead I gathered the plates and utensils to set up on the floor. 

In the midst of all the boxes from moving, 

The warmth of the food calmed our nerves down. 

We were miles away from our old home, 

But my family knew that all we needed was each other to get through the next couple of weeks. 

None of that mattered right now though, 

As we slurped up our Indian styled pasta in the company of one another. 



I chose to imitate the poem “Cold Noodle Soup with Sophora Leaves” by Du Fu. This poem truly resonated with me because it perfectly worded a plethora of emotions that I myself feel when eating one of my favorite meals. I loved the line, “I eat more, worrying that it will soon be gone.” It reminded me of meals with my brothers, when we always fought over the last lamb chops or the final bite of mangai pachadi. Though the final theme of Da Fu’s poem was a bit different than my own, I really liked the fact that the author used both objective (like particular ingredients and places) and subjective ideas (like emotions) to bring the whole recipe and noodle to life. I enjoyed reading the prose writing as well and I thought that it would be fun for me to try that type of writing style as well. 

Du Fu emphasized many of the themes that the class discussed involving Chinese food. The one that I noticed the most within this poem is this idea of balance. The structure of each sentence was perfectly balanced with a small detail, following with an explanation of what people are doing with that small detail. Each sentence has it’s balance and it tells the reader a lot about the Chinese focus on this aspect. Whether it is fan-cai, yin-yang, or just the balance of favors and aromas in each dish, the Chinese cultures makes sure to perfect this in order to create something harmonious and complementary. The importance of community and sharing is also clearly depicted in this poem as the author writes about wanting to share this special dish with other people, even if they are far away. From the first day of class, the class discussed how food to the Chinese was so valued because meals were a time of communion and spending quality time with one another. Each dish was always so representative of that. Finally, I have continued to learn about various types of noodles and how each one is associated with memories or events. In this case, the author is talking about eating this refreshing cold noodle soup on a special occasion. We have also seen this through the dan dan noodles, longevity noodles, etc. I attempted to imitate all three of these ideas in my own writing when discussing a type of pasta that was special to my family. 

Every time I write one of these blogs, I learn more and more about my own Indian culture. I never really embraced my culture until coming to college, but this class has continued to push my learning within my own home. When thinking of ideas of what to write for this poem, I asked my mother if there were any variations of noodles or pasta that are commonly eaten in India. She couldn’t think of anything native to India, but brought up many Chinese dishes that are quite popular. None of those dishes intrigued me or resonated with me. I then remembered a moment in my childhood: moving to my current home. I decided to run with the idea once I thought of it and that’s how I wrote the poem. This moment was when my family and I shared Indian styled pasta on the floor of our new home, since we didn’t have any furniture or barely anything within the house. Thinking about it now makes me feel so nostalgic.  Anyways, I realized that the Indian culture focuses much on creativity and family, and this is shown in my poem. At a time where my family didn’t have much, my dad cooked up some pasta, but instead used Indian spices and flavors to remind us of home. He was creative and made us a makeshift meal that warmed our hearts and filled our stomachs. Additionally, moving to a brand new place was difficult for all of us. Both my parents were going into new jobs, I was going to be attending a new schools, and my brothers were just a year old at this point. We all needed each other’s support in order to get through such a transition period and that is exactly what this dish represented. It was something new that was made to feel like home, which was exactly what we needed to do. 

It is clear that there are many common themes in both Chinese, Italian, and Indian cultures when it comes to food. The most obvious one I believe is this sense of community and wanting to share meals with one another. Meals are always an important time for loved ones to catch up with each other and just enjoy their time and company. I think that this cultural DNA can be found in almost every culture across the world. For hundreds of thousands of years, banquets and meals have been important times for leaders, friends, and family to get together and just share their opinions and ideas. Also, through all of the literature, we can truly see how versatile the noodle truly is. We have watched and read about many different types of people making many different types of noodles and it is honestly quite overwhelming. For the Chinese, there is a unique noodle dish for every celebration or occasion and for the Italians, there are so many interesting influences on how to make pasta from neighboring countries. The thing is that noodles can be made in the traditional Chinese or Italian way, but it can also be created into something new just like in my poem. There is much more to noodles than just a piece of dough; each dish carries its memories and stories along with it to be passed down along the generations. 

Dan Dan Noodles with Pork

By Michelle Boamah

Green are the leaf blade clusters that form bok choy,

they are separated and blanched in noodle water.

Dried white noodles can be found in any farmer’s market,

they are combined with chili sauce, leafy greens, and pork.

They are put in a bowl ready to be eaten,

people enjoy hurriedly with the looming thought of it being gone.

Different textures can be seen from the chopsticks,

from the noodles to the Sui Mi Ya Cai.

Simmering on my taste buds it is spicier than most dishes,

I encourage others, offering them like pearls of wisdom.

I wish to go walking off in the streets,

skipping off to taste this dish from every street vendor.

The trip is long, and I worry about getting tired or running out of money,

but the need to experience this dish is far too great.

Finding the dish among a sea of people was a minor thing,

standing in line makes clear my intentions.

Right across from me,

they place the noodles in a big pot.

Later in the day when another customer is ready for a treat after a long day,

this flavor too will be needed for the occasion.


  1. I chose to imitate Cold Noodle Soup with Sophora Leaves by Du Fu.
  2. I choose this piece because I enjoyed how it described the process and ingredients used to make this dish. I also enjoyed how the culture surrounding Cold Noodle Soup shone through the poem and I wanted to do the same with another type of noodle dish.
  3. I learned about the importance of food to the author’s culture. From the detailed description of the meal and its ingredients to the mention of the emperor also consuming said meal. This shows that the meal is an important aspect of this society because even the highest-ranking person in this society enjoys and looks forward to this meal.
  4. The way food is portrayed in this poem by Du Fu is similar to the way my family views food. We also view food as an important aspect in our lives. Food allows us to bring the whole family around for an enjoyable experience. We love to share food with our neighbors and friends because it is an expression of the love we have for one another. My mother, during holidays like Christmas and Easter, will cook meals for our family friends as their gift, instead of giving them traditional store-bought gifts, because she believes that food is able to express the love she has for them more than any gift could. Food is a way that we say I love you without using our words.
  5. There is cultural DNA embedded in his piece by Du Fu shown through his eagerness to share the noodle dish with everyone. In the eleventh line he says, “I urge others, offering them like pearls.” This showcases how noodles have become food for all. There is no hierarchy as to who can enjoy this dish. It is meant to be experienced by all. This is also shown in the last two lines when he says, “Late in the day when the ruler is enjoying the cool, this flavor too is needed for the occasion.” Reaffirming the view that noodles can be enjoyed by all and also showing that it is something that can bring people together by giving them something they can all connect with and enjoy. This poem also showcases Du Fu’s title as a civil servant and his pride and love for his country by his eagerness to introduce others to the dish so dear to his heart.