Why Are Noodles Important To China?

In essence, noodles are a kind of cereal food, which is the main body of the traditional Chinese diet. It is the main source of energy for Chinese people and the most economical energy food.

More Chinese Noodle History:

I found Chinese noodle history fascinating!

Noodles are mentioned in a venerable old ode by poet Shu Shi from around 300 BCE. One can speculate that noodles must have been a staple of the Chinese home at that time because poetry at that time was used to enshrine cultural topics.

Noodles were a staple of Chinese culture by the Han Dynasty (), which began in early 200AD. It was commonly seen as sheets or strips and was referred to as cake (). With time, wheat, rice, and occasionally mung bean starch were used to make Chinese noodles. Noodles were available in shops in all major Chinese cities by the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD), and thanks to Chinese influence, they also became popular in Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, and other nations.

This type of noodle was produced during the Han Dynasty and was particularly prized for the artistic way in which the dough was stretched lengthwise between both hands and folded over and over into a thin form. The 4,000 year old noodles discovered in Lajia are said to look like l miàn noodles, meaning they are the ancestor of ramen. Long noodles, also known as longevity noodles or cháng shu miàn, are still regarded as a symbol of long life in Chinese culture.

Why Are Noodles Important To China?

Pulling LaMian 拉麵 noodles! SOURCE: Kenneth Chan. [email protected]

Even today, noodle festivals, events, and celebrations in Asia are very important. Chinese newlyweds eat noodles with gravy () when they move into their first home as a sign of a “flavored life.” Chinese people eat noodles with dragon whiskers on the lunar new year, which they refer to as “dragon head” ().

Here are some examples of how stories about noodles have helped communities grow:

  • Seafood noodles (三鲜伊面) are interchangeably called dutiful son’s noodle (孝子面). The son of a chronically ill mother, Yi Yin (伊尹) steamed and fried a mixture of eggs and flour to make noodles and nurse his mother back to health.
  • Dandan noodles (担担面) stress prosperity through service. Peddlers carried pots and stoves on shoulder poles to cook and sell these noodles, exuding the epitome of hospitality and customer service.
  • Sister-in-law noodles (嫂子面) are named after a sister-in-law of a poor, orphaned scholar. The sister-in-law would make noodles for this scholar while he studied. The heartiness of his sister-in-law’s dish is credited for helping the scholar pass his provincial Chinese civil service examination… Since this wasn’t a repeatable result, the noodles were eventually called “sào zi”- ashamed son noodles!
  • Vinegar-pepper old friend noodles (老友面) reportedly came about when a Zhou teahouse owner realized one of his regular customers wasn’t coming in for tea, anymore. Upon checking on his friend, the owner found his regular sick. He nursed his friend back to health with these noodles.
  • Why Are Noodles Important To China?

    On sunny days, villagers in Panzhoujia Village, Jinhua City, east China’s Zhejiang Province, typically eat dry noodles. SOURCE: Chinapic. people. com. cn.

    Why Are Noodles Important To China?

    德兴馆 (De Xing Guan) : A Shanghai noodle shop chain. The original, which is in Shanghai, debuted in 1878 and is said to have had connections to Emperor Qianlong.

    Read on to learn about noodles according to my research!

    Why Are Noodles Important To China?

    SOURCE: Nature/KBK Teo/E Minoux et al. The oldest noodles ever discovered

    Although the bowl of noodles in the picture doesn’t look great, it is very significant!

    In 2005, a bowl of noodles was found preserved inside an overturned bowl. Judging by the wreck found around this archaeological site in Lagia, China, the bowl was buried under ten feet of sediment during an earthquake or some sort of sudden catastrophe. The noodles were 4,000 years old! The Institute of Geology and Geophysics at Beijings Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Houyuan Lu said it was “the earliest empirical evidence of noodles ever found.”

    It was discovered after studying microscopic mineral fragments that these ancient noodles were produced when wheat was not widely used in China. Prior to the arrival of the knowledge of milling via the Silk Road, wheat was unknown to the Chinese. These Chinese noodles were made of two types of millet rather than the wheaty pasta that one might typically associate with noodles. Chinese natives used millet as a staple grain that was ground into flour, turned into dough, and possibly formed into shapes. Even today, some rural Chinese communities without access to wheat continue to prepare noodles in a similar manner using millet.

    In 2013, ex-foreign journalist and founder of Beijing’s award-winning Black Sesame Kitchen Jen Lin-Liu wrote On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta. After embarking on an eater’s dream (an edible tour through China, Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, Italy, and Greece), she discovered that “the earliest Chinese noodles were shaped into little bits, formed from bread dough.” That noodle still exists in China, today and it’s called main pain.

    Why Are Noodles Important To China?

    Mai fun, rice vermicelli. SOURCE: MR.PATCHARAPHON/Shutterstock

    Why Are Noodles Important To China?

    SOURCE: Enny Nuraheni/Reuters

    To learn more about the cultural significance of noodles in East Asia and to discuss the history of noodles worldwide, we spoke with Brooklyn-based food writer and photographer Diana Kuan.

    Few foods are as well-liked worldwide as noodles. From East Asia to Europe, many cultures have a specific type of noodle dish that they are proud of. There are actually many competing theories as to which regions and cultures first developed noodles, but where did they actually come from? According to some historians, they were originally made with semolina and dried before cooking in the Middle East. Others believe the birthplace was somewhere in Central Asia. Many Chinese think that noodles originated in China and were exported to the West via Marco Polo’s travels. Pasta was allegedly invented in Italy long before Marco Polo was even born, according to many Italians. The hypothesis that noodles originated in the Near East (western Asia, Turkey, and Egypt), where durum wheat was first cultivated, and spread both east and west along different timelines and trajectories, is considered by some food historians and archaeologists to be the most credible.

    As a Chinese-American, since I was able to eat solid foods, noodles have played a significant role in my life. We would eat it at least twice or three times a week, though it wasn’t served at every meal like rice was. Noodles in a stir-fry sauce were frequently served as part of a multi-course meal. Or, after moving to Massachusetts when I was very young, we would frequently visit Chinatown in Boston for wonton noodle soup, which was available everywhere in the southeast Chinese city of Guangzhou, where I was born.

    We spoke with Brooklyn-based food writer and photographer, Diana Kuan, to discuss the global history of noodles and more specifically, their cultural significance in East Asia. She is the author of Red Hot Kitchen, on cooking with Asian hot sauces, and The Chinese Takeout Cookbook, on Chinese food and culture in America. Her favorite foods are dumplings, ramen, and tacos, usually with hot sauce on the side.

    Whether or not East Asia is where noodles actually originated, it is the region that has transformed noodles into a staple food that is also incredibly adaptable and versatile. Around the time that pasta was first documented in Italy, noodles traveled from China to Japan in the ninth century AD and Korea in the fourteenth century. We now have noodles made from rice, buckwheat, mung bean, kelp, corn, and konjac yam in addition to wheat or millet. Noodles in China come in a variety of shapes, including thick, round, flat, skinny, straight, and skinny wavy. Early noodles in China were made by tossing tiny pieces of bread dough into boiling water. Mian pian (square flat noodles), dao shao noodles (thicker noodles shaved with a knife), and mao er duo (cat’s ear noodles, which resemble orecchiette and gnocchi in shape) are examples of this form in use today. Hand-pulled noodles (la mian) are a form of culinary art that take months to become proficient in. You can stir-fry, steam, boil, pan-fry, deep-fry, or simmer soup with noodles.


    What do noodles symbolize in China?

    Noodles. Noodles are not only the most adaptable ingredient in Chinese cuisine, but they also represent longevity. Noodles are the ideal food to eat on your birthday because their elongated shape is thought to symbolize a long, healthy life!

    What is the purpose of noodles?

    Noodles are frequently used to give broth soups body and flavor. Common preparations include boiling, sautéing, and serving with sauces and meats or baking in casseroles.

    Are noodles a Chinese invention?

    Noodles were first documented 4,000 years ago in China. At the Lajia archaeological site, a group of archaeologists discovered an earthenware bowl in 2005 that contained 4000-year-old noodles. These noodles were compared to Chinese noodles called lamian.

    Are noodles famous in China?

    Noodles originated in China, where the earliest records indicate that they have been consumed there for at least 4,000 years. Chinese people now consume noodles as a staple food, a snack, or a delectable dish at a feast.

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