Origin and Evolution of Chinese Noodles
Noodles are a staple food product that can be divided into two primary categories: Chinese noodles and Italian pasta. The origin and evolution of noodles remain a hot topic for academic discussion. Based on archaeological discoveries and historical literature, this article discusses the origin of Chinese noodles, analyzes key steps in their evolution, and provides a brief chronology of archaeological discoveries related to Chinese noodles. As discussed in the article, “cut flat bread” is thought to be the prototype of the Chinese cut buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) noodle, whereas the hele noodle (similar to spaghetti noodles) has been identified as an early form of extruded Chinese noodle. Made with hele tools (a primitive extruder made with wood), extruded noodles became the primary noodle form manufactured in large-scale production. Handmade noodles, in contrast, typically are produced in the home and were developed based on the skills used to produce cut flat bread and cut buckwheat noodles after wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) was introduced into the western, central Shaanxi plain, and central plain regions of China. The Xinjiang noodle (latiaozi) has been identified as the ancestor of the Lanzhou hand-extended noodle, which is the prototype for Chinese handmade dried noodles.