Noodles are a type of food made from unleaveneddough which is rolled flat and cut, stretched or extruded, into long strips or strings. Noodles can be refrigerated for short-term storage or dried and stored for future use.
The origin of noodles is Chinese, and the earliest written record of noodles is found in a book dated to the Eastern Han period (25–220 CE). Noodles were often made from wheat dough. It became a staple food for the people of the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE).
The oldest evidence of noodle consumption was from 4,000 years ago in China. In 2005, a team of archaeologists reported finding an earthenware bowl that contained 4000-year-old noodles at the Lajia archaeological site. These noodles were said to resemble lamian, a type of Chinese noodle. Analyzing the husk phytoliths and starch grains present in the sediment associated with the noodles, they were identified as millet belonging to Panicum miliaceum and Setaria italica, although this was disputed.
Wheat noodles in Japan (udon) were adapted from a Chinese recipe as early as the 9th century. Reshteh noodles were eaten by Turkic peoples by the 13th century. Innovations continued, such as noodles made with buckwheat (naengmyeon) were developed in the Joseon Dynasty of Korea (1392–1897). Ramen noodles, based on Chinese noodles, became common in Japan by 1900.
In the 1st century BCE, Horace wrote of fried sheets of dough called lagana. However, the method of cooking these sheets of dough, lagana, does not correspond to the current definition of either a fresh or dry pasta product, which only had similar basic ingredients and perhaps the shape. In the 2nd century CE, the Greek physician Galen mentioned itrion, referring to all homogenous mixtures from flour and water.
Ancient Israel and diaspora
The Latinized itrium was used as a reference to a kind of boiled dough. The Jerusalem Talmud records that itrium was common in Israel from the 3rd to 5th centuries CE. Arabs adapted noodles for long journeys in the fifth century, the first written record of dry pasta. The ninth-century Arab physician Isho bar Ali defines itriyya, the Arabic cognate of the Greek word, as string-like shapes made of semolina and dried before cooking.Muhammad al-Idrisi wrote in 1154 that itriyya was manufactured and exported from Norman Sicily. Itriya was also known by the Persian Jewish (who spoke Aramaic during early Persian rule) and during the Islamic rule referred to a small soup noodle prepared by twisting bits of kneaded dough into shape.
The first concrete information on pasta products in Italy dates to the 13th or 14th centuries. Pasta has taken on a variety of shapes, often based on regional specializations. Since at least the 20th century, pasta has become a staple in North America and elsewhere.
In the area that would become Germany, written mention of Spätzle has been found in documents dating from 1725, although medieval illustrations are believed to place this noodle at an even earlier date.
Zacierki is a type of noodle found in Polish Jewish cuisine. It was part of the rations distributed to the Jewish victims in the Łódź Ghetto in Poland by the Nazis and their Polish collaborators. (Out of the "major ghettos", Łódź was the most affected by hunger, starvation and malnutrition-related deaths.) The diary of a young Jewish girl from Łódź recounts a fight she had with her father over a spoonful of zacierki taken from the family's meager supply of 200 grams a week.
Bakmi: Indonesian Chinese yellow wheat noodles with egg and meat, usually pork. The Chinese word bak (肉), which means "meat" (or more specifically pork), is the vernacular pronunciation in Hokkien, but not in Teochew (which pronounced it as nek), suggesting an original Hokkien root. Mi derives from miàn.In Chinese, miàn (simplified Chinese: 面; traditional Chinese: 麵; often transliterated as "mien" or "mein" ) refers to noodles made from wheat.
Baked noodles: Boiled and drained noodles are combined with other ingredients and baked. Common examples include many casseroles.
Basic noodles: These are cooked in water or broth, then drained. Other foods can be added or the noodles are added to other foods (see fried noodles) or the noodles can be served plain with a dipping sauce or oil to be added at the table. In general, noodles are soft and absorb flavors.
^Serventi & Sabban 2002, p. xi. "[...] He was referring to Italian pasta, but the observation can safely be generalized to include all pasta, a food that originated in China and from there spread to Japan, Korea, most of Southeast Asia, and the rest of the world."
Dickie, John (1 October 2010). Delizia! The Epic History of Italians and Their Food (Paper). New York: Atria Books. ISBN0743278070.
Errington, Frederick et al. eds. The Noodle Narratives: The Global Rise of an Industrial Food into the Twenty-First Century (U. of California Press; 2013) 216 pages; studies three markets for instant noodles: Japan, the United States, and Papua New Guinea.
Rodinson, Maxime; Perry, Charles; Arberry, Arthur J. (2001). Medieval Arab Cookery (Hardback). United Kingdom: Prospect Books. p. 253. ISBN0907325912.