They can be stretched, extruded, or rolled flat; boiled and bunged in soup, fried and tossed with seafood or even dehydrated and sold in their own cup, as The Eternal Life of the Instant Noodle explores. One thing is for sure: however noodles are created, cooked and eaten, this versatile food is one of the world’s best-loved staples.
- Noodles are at least 4000 years old
In 2002, a bowl of noodles thought to be 4000 years old was unearthed in Qinghai province, China. The earthenware bowl and its preserved contents were discovered buried underneath three metres of sediment at an archaeological site in Lajia, the location of a catastrophic earthquake some four millennia ago. Before this find, the earliest record of noodles appeared in a book written during China’s Eastern Han Dynasty, sometime between 25 and 220 AD.
- The name noodle is German
The noodle may be Asian in origin but the food’s name most likely has its roots in the German language. It is thought that “noodle” comes from the German word “nudel” which itself comes from “knödel”, meaning dumpling. This in turn derives from the Latin word “nodus” meaning knot. That’s etymology that needs some serious untangling.
- The instant noodle was invented to cure world hunger
After Japan’s defeat in WWII, food supplies were scarce and the people were reliant on American aid. Momofuku Ando, a failed Taiwanese-Japanese businessman, was intent on finding a way to feed Japan’s starving post-war population, convinced that real peace would only come when they had enough to eat. So, he spent a year working away in a backyard hut in Osaka and, through tireless endeavour and trial and error, emerged with what would become the world’s most successful industrial food: the chicken ramen instant noodle. Instant noodles first went on sale in 1958, and they’ve changed little since. Read more