The Chinese believe that every meal should contain an equal division between fan, grains and starches, and t’sai, fruits, and vegetables. In order to provide this harmoniums dietary balance, they rely one of the grains and that is noodles.
But it comes back to the question of who invented the noodles? The Chinese, Arabs and Italians have all laid claim but the earliest record appears in a book written between AD 25 and 220 in China.
As wheat was imported from other countries, millet was traditionally the staple grain in China. It was used for cooking by breaking the grains and steaming them as the Chinese did not know what to do with the wheat since it was foreign to them. They figured wheat was a poor man’s food and used it as a back-up in case there was a shortage of millet. They haven’t yet realised that wheat can be ground into flour.
Thanks to the Silk Road, it changed when the Chinese were introduced to a mill that could grind wheat into flour. They invented several tasty ingredients after they realised that wheat was so versatile in resulting the flour dough can be shaped into plates, filled dumplings and noodles of different widths.
Using a similar machine that was used by the Italians to make noodles in different sizes, the Chinese even made noodles called vermicelli from rice. Another machine that is being utilise by them resembles a giant garlic press, which presses the noodles out of tiny holes to make long noodles.
Chinese noodles or better known as lā miàn, is prepared by stretching the dough. Making these noodles have become almost an art form. The dough is stretched lengthwise between both hands. The ends are folded together and the dough is stretched again and again, becoming thinner and longer.
Making lā miàn noodles takes speed and skill, as the dough needs to remain intact and the noodles have to be kept separate from one another. The longer the noodles are, the better, because in China, noodles symbolise long life—a person celebrating his birthday is served what is called “long life noodles”, cháng shòu miàn.
But here’s a fact, not everyone knows that miàn, falls in other two categories besides hand-pulled, that is wheat flour noodle and rice noodle. So what’s your favourite type of noodle? Leave a comment.