OODLES of NOODLES

Many think the noodle originated in Italy and the Mediterranean region, but actually the noodle is of Asian ancestry. In 2005, a 4,000 year old bowl containing fossilized noodles was found in Shandong, China making it the earliest known instance of noodles in history. Noodles have been a staple food in all of Asia, Italy, and parts of the Middle East for ages. The endless preparations and variations have yielded some amazing dishes from Japanese ramen to Italian Spaghetti. What we find here at Dine In, is that regardless of where we order takeaway from, there always seem to be a noodle component available in most menus regardless of cuisine. Whether we eat Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Italian, American, or Middle Eastern, there is always plenty of noodle based dishes to choose from.

To this day, making noodles by hand is a very sophisticated step by step process. The fact that noodles date back 4,000 years, shows the sophistication of the culture which was producing it. Noodles can be made from 1 of 7 different sources including wheat, buckwheat, corn, rice, potato starch, mung bean, and acorn. Wheat based noodles are common in Japanese Ramen and Yakisoba and rice noodles are very popular in Vietnam and Malaysia.

Scientists who found the 4,000 year old noodle bowl analyzed the noodles and found they were composed of the grain millet. Although all research points to the fact that wheat was available in China at the time, it was not cultivated back then. These days one would be hard pressed to find noodles made from millet.

It’s no surprise the noodle originated in China, according to Xinhua news agency China is the number one consumer of noodles in the world. Additionally, the world instant noodle market will reach 158.7 billion packs by 2010. The instant noodle market has grown exponentially since its inception.

There are just so many delicious food choices that feature noodles that it’s hard to just pick one. Lasagna and spaghetti are my favorite Italian specialties, and my mother’s goulash featured broad egg noodles which are ubiquitous in Eastern European cooking. There is no question that Asian cultures add a complex and completely different dimension to the world of noodles. Using ingredients such as soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, fresh veggies, and various meats; adds sweet, sour, and salty flavors simultaneously, exhibiting great flavor and spice.

When I eat noodles I want aggressive flavors that are distinguishable, yet do not compete with one another. One of the best noodle spots I have found is Noodle Canteen in Wellington. The canteen offers over 25 noodle dishes each one completely unique and unbelievably delicious. The ‘Hokkien Mee’ is egg based noodles with roast pork and a slew of goodies that is savory and sweet. Their ‘Sweet Box’ lives up to its name with a trio (pork, chicken, beef) of meaty goodness laced with pineapple and tomato. For those that love spice, their ‘Sambal Chicken’ is simply hot fire magic merging rice noodles and chicken with the peppery Malay sauce. From sweet and spicy to savory and mild, this restaurant has everything a noodle lover could want.

References:
1. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/10/1012_051012_chinese_noodles_2.html
2. http://www.prweb.com/releases/instant_noodles/fast_food/prweb869434.htm

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