Noodles, Asia’s favorite

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Men and women, young and old all over the world enjoy food made with noodles made into hundreds, if not thousands of different types. Especially in Asia, as many types of noodles rise to popularity, national cuisine of different countries becomes popular as well. For example, Vietnam has pho (rice noodles), Japan has udon (think wheat flour noodles). China has fried noodles, and Korea has kuksu (buckwheat noodles). Hearing these foods make one crave for the dish as images of the food settles very easily to one’s mind. The origins of this world-loved dish, however, remain not well-known.

At present, the noodle dish that we enjoy with hot broth has a long history. Historical records show that the first time humans consumed noodles was with the discovery of flour in ancient Mesopotamia during 7000 BC. In 3000 BC, baking of bread started in Egypt. At that time, wheat cultivation started in China, shown in the records of the Han Dynasty. A dish made from noodles and soup was called ‘tang byeong ’. Scholars say that it was in the later Song Dynasty that the current shape and style of cooking was widely established in China. Through this we see that humans have been enjoying noodles and noodle dishes for quite a long time.

In the West, noodles are mixed with herbs, oil, spices and flavored sauces; in the East, brewed broth gives body to any noodle dish. Chinese noodles are characterized to have fragrant smells from its ingredients locked in with fire while Japanese noodles have simple broth to give more focus on the freshness of the seafood in the dish. Korean noodles, on the other hand have always struck the balance between leafy greens from the mountains, fish and selfish from rivers and the sea, and meat from livestock boiled for a long time to give a full body to the unforgettable broth.

With the special characteristics of noodles and broth that come together, we can infer that both were created at the same time. The simplicity of noodles has bound humanity into one.
Until where has noodles seeped into our everyday lives? In a cold winter’s day, images of hot broth with full fragrance and spice together chewy and tasty noodles make one topped with your favorite meat or vegetable makes one crave for a hot bowl. By Chung Hyang-hee Hyatt Regency Jeju Asia Restraurant Chef | Summary by Rigoberto Banta Jr.

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