Noodles in China

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Despite the fact that wheat was grown in the Mediterranean region long before it arrived in China, the northern Chinese appear to have been the first to develop the art of noodle making, sometime before 200 BCE. Around 300 CE, Shu Xi wrote an ode to wheat products (bing) that names several kinds of noodles and dumplings, describes how they’re made, and suggests their luxurious qualities: poets frequently likened their appearance and texture to the qualities of silk (see box). In 544, an agricultural treatise called Important Arts for the People’s Welfare devoted an entire chapter to dough products. These included not only several different shapes of wheat noodle, most made by mixing flour with meat broth and one made with egg, but also noodles made from rice flour and even from pure starch.