Happy Noodle Month
Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Short, long, thick, thin, soupy or dry. Noodles come in all shapes and sizes and can be consumed in numerous ways, such as a hearty bowl of comforting noodle soup on a chilly winter day or in a stir fry such as our Saigon Chow Mein made of crispy egg noodles to satisfy those crunch cravings topped with a colourful medley of mushrooms, onions, bell peppers and carrots! Mmm, doesn’t that sound appetizing!
Noodles are a staple that can be made to perfection by a 5-star chef or by a college student rolling out of bed. With thousands of different ways to serve them, you can never get bored of this culinary delight! No wonder March is National noodle month. A whole month is a must to celebrate the different varieties and to eat them too. Happy National noodle month to all the noodle lovers out there!
What is a noodle? The word noodle originated from the west meaning long stringy substance. In China, Noodles are referred to as Mian or Mein (not based on the shape of the food but on what it’s made of). So, a dumpling and a ravioli can both be considered a mien!
Where do these glorious strings of joy originate from? The worlds oldest bowl of noodles was discovered by archeologists in China, thought to be over 4000 years old, made of millet flour. In the western world, noodles trace back to as early as 500 and 600 AD. So, who made the noodle? There is no research proving who made the first ever noodle, but there are theories suggesting that noodles in China and the noodles as we know in Europe emerged separately, unrelated to each other through their own traditions in time, says Lin Liu according to her research (Author of the book On the Noodle Road). Food historian from the University of Adelaide, Professor Barbara Santich, confirms Lin Liu’s findings and says that Chinese noodles were made with millet (a soft wheat) since that is all they had back then, meaning they couldn’t have created dried pasta since hard or coarse wheat is required. Therefore, Chinese noodles didn’t evolve into Mediterranean pasta and pasta didn’t make its way from china to Italy, says Santich. Lin Lau confirms from her research that the Chinese noodles spread through Asia, Korea and Japan, all through Central Asia and then through to Turkey.
The first noodles discovered in Europe were said to have originated in Syria with the mention of the word Itri or Itra (meaning a flour and water dough that is rolled into thin sheets and cut into thin strips) found in Greek literature, says professor Barbara Santich. Noting that Syria was once a Greek colony, she explains that these mentions later transformed into Arabic. The Arabs conquered Sicily and southern Italy, so it’s highly possible that the Arabs introduced noodles to Italy and the Italians took this food and popularized it in Europe, North America and to the rest of the world. From this history lesson we learn that it doesn’t matter who created the noodle first but more importantly to appreciate all the varieties that we have around the world today.
North Americans refer to noodles as pasta which can be confusing since Noodles can also be a Pad Thai, a Ramen dish or even Capellini (Angel Hair) in marinara sauce. Noodles can be anything you want them to be! North Americans love eating all forms of this culinary delight! A Popular Asian noodle dish among North Americans is Ramen. This is the ultimate comfort food originating from China, synonymous with Japanese cuisine. Ramen is based in a broth (usually chicken or beef) with wheat noodles and toppings such as veggies, dumplings, chicken or beef. Other favourites include Pho which is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of a rice noodle cooked in a nutritious broth which can take hours to make. Lastly, you can never pass up a good fried noodle dish such as a stir fried Japanese Udon noodle, or a Pad Thai made of a rice noodle topped with egg, sprouts, seafood, beef or chicken. These are just a few of the favourites!
Stephanie @iamafoodblog once said, “Noodles are life” and there is no doubt about that! Next time you are at a Japanese restaurant enjoying Ramen make sure to slurp your noodles loudly to let the host know how much you are enjoying the meal! Don’t worry they won’t find it offensive! In Japanese culture it is good form to slurp your noodles loud and clear! The louder the slurp, the more you are enjoying it! We challenge you to try at least 3 new types of noodles this month. Now, get out there and start slurping! #noodlemonth #loveournoodles #benthanhlondonnoodles
Happy Noodle month to everyone!