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N is for Noodle

Food by Letter – N is for Noodle

So tasty…so versatile…there’s a reason we all love noodles! From udon to cellophane, to vermicelli, to gnocchi, to penne, there are more than 60 noodle varieties found in different parts of the world. 

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of noodles given that they relied on the innovation of cooks in their homes. Both the Italians and Chinese lay claim to inventing the noodle, but who’s right? According to our research, the oldest historical mention of noodles appears in a dictionary from the third century A.D. in China. The earliest Chinese noodles, though, don’t appear as strands of dough. Instead, they were shaped into little bits formed from bread dough and thrown into a wok of boiling water. That kind of noodle, called mian pian, is still eaten in China today. The next time you’re eating (or slurping) noodles, it’s worth considering that the meal you’re consuming is descended from thousands of years of history and cultural influences!

Think you know your noodle etiquette? Here are some of our favorite noodle customs from around the globe.

  1. There are several customs attached to eating noodles in Japan, slurping loudly while eating your noodles is not considered bad manners. On the contrary, it signifies appreciation for your host that the meal being served is actually delicious.
  2. In South Korea and Singapore, just say no to the slurp. There, you might get unappreciative glances (you know, like the kind you get when you’re talking too loud on your cell phone in public). As far as Koreans and Singaporeans are concerned, slurping loudly is utterly uncouth.
  3. When it comes to noodle soups in Thailand, demonstrate the proper eating technique by using a porcelain or ceramic spoon in your right hand and a fork in your left.
  4. Noodles represent longevity in China. This is the reason why they make an essential part of birthday celebrations in the country, just like candles and cake.
  5. To eat pasta like a true, modern Italian, ditch your spoon and learn to master your fork, it’s really the only utensil you’ll need. Italians encourage the art of the fork twirl to gather up your pasta into a little nest, but do not, under any circumstances, use your knife to cut your pasta.

Take your noodle knowledge to the next level. Try your hand at making these basic noodles at home!

Ingredients

  • 2 to 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 1 tbsp canola oil

Instructions

  1. Place 2 cups of flour and salt in a deep bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour; add eggs and water. Gradually mix with hands or a wooden spoon until well blended.
  1. Gather into a ball and knead on a floured surface until smooth, about 10 minutes. Divide the dough into thirds. On a lightly floured surface, roll each section into a paper-thin rectangle. Dust the top of the dough with flour to prevent sticking while rolling. Trim the edges and flour both sides of the dough.
  1. Roll dough, jelly-roll style. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/4-in. slices. Unroll noodles and allow to dry on paper towels before cooking.
  1. To cook, bring salted water to a rapid boil. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the water; drop noodles into the water and cook until tender but not soft, about 7-10 minutes.
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