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Dalian Liaoning China Noodlemaker-01.jpg
Traditional noodle-making involving hand-pulling in Dalian, China
Place of originChina
Main ingredientsUnleavened dough

Noodles are a type of food made from unleavened dough 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.

Noodles are usually cooked in boiling water, sometimes with cooking oil or salt added. They are also often pan-fried or deep-fried. Noodle dishes can include a sauce or noodles can be put into soup. The material composition and geocultural origin is specific to each type of a wide variety of noodles. Noodles are a staple food in many cultures (see Chinese noodles, Japanese noodles, Korean noodles, Filipino noodles, and Vietnamese noodles).


The word was derived in the 18th century from the German word Nudel.[1]


Jan Vermeer van Utrecht's painting of a man eating noodles (National Museum, Warsaw).

The origin of noodles is Chinese,[2][3][4] and the earliest written record of noodles is found in a book dated to the Eastern Han period (25–220 CE).[5] Noodles were often made from wheat dough. It became a staple food for the people of the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE).[6]

The oldest evidence of noodle consumption was from 4,000 years ago in China.[5] In 2005, a team of archaeologists reported finding an earthenware bowl that contained 4000-year-old noodles at the Lajia archaeological site.[7] These noodles were said to resemble lamian, a type of Chinese noodle.[7] 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,[7] although this was disputed.[8]


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.

Ancient Europe[edit]

In the 1st century BCE, Horace wrote of fried sheets of dough called lagana.[9] 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.[10] In the 2nd century CE, the Greek physician Galen mentioned itrion, referring to all homogenous mixtures from flour and water.[11]

Ancient Israel and diaspora[edit]

The Latinized itrium was used as a reference to a kind of boiled dough.[11] The Jerusalem Talmud records that itrium was common in Israel from the 3rd to 5th centuries CE.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]


The first concrete information on pasta products in Italy dates to the 13th or 14th centuries.[15] Pasta has taken on a variety of shapes, often based on regional specializations.


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.[16]

Polish Jews[edit]

Zacierki is a type of noodle found in Polish Jewish cuisine.[17] It was part of the rations distributed to the Jewish victims in the Łódź Ghetto by the Nazis. (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.[18][19]

Types by primary ingredient[edit]

Types of dishes[edit]

Stir-frying noodles using wok


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "noodle | Definition of noodle in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries | English. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  2. ^ "The History of Noodles: How a Simple Food Became a Worldwide Staple". The Atlantic.
  3. ^ "A short history of Japan's long noodles". The Japan Times.
  4. ^ 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."
  5. ^ a b Roach, John (12 October 2005). "4,000-Year-Old Noodles Found in China". National Geographic. pp. 1–2.
  6. ^ Sinclair & Sinclair 2010, p. 91.
  7. ^ a b c Lu, Houyuan; Yang, Xiaoyan; Ye, Maolin; et al. (13 October 2005). "Culinary archaeology: Millet noodles in Late Neolithic China". Nature. 437 (7061): 967. doi:10.1038/437967a. PMID 16222289.
  8. ^ Ge, W.; Liu, L.; Chen, X.; Jin, Z. (2011). "Can noodles be made from millet? An experimental investigation of noodle manufacture together with starch grain analyses". Archaeometry. 53: 194–204. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4754.2010.00539.x.
  9. ^ Serventi & Sabban 2002, pp. 15–16 & 24.
  10. ^ Serventi & Sabban 2002, pp. 15–16.
  11. ^ a b Serventi & Sabban 2002, p. 17.
  12. ^ Serventi & Sabban 2002, p. 29.
  13. ^ "A medical text in Arabic written by a Jewish doctor living in Tunisia in the early 900s" (Dickie 2008: 21).
  14. ^ Rodinson, Perry & Arberry 2001, p. 253.
  15. ^ Serventi & Sabban 2002, p. 10.
  16. ^ "City Profile: Stuttgart" (PDF). London: Embassy of Germany, London. Retrieved 26 November 2015. Spätzle is a city specialty.
  17. ^ Strybel, Robert; Strybel, Maria (2005). Polish Heritage Cookery. Hippocrene Books. ISBN 978-0-7818-1124-8.
  18. ^ Zapruder, Alexandra (2015). Salvaged Pages: Young Writers' Diaries of the Holocaust. Yale University Press. pp. 226–242. ISBN 978-0-300-20599-2.
  19. ^ Heberer, Patricia (31 May 2011). Children during the Holocaust. Rowman Altamira. ISBN 978-0-7591-1986-4.


  • Dickie, John (1 October 2010). Delizia! The Epic History of Italians and Their Food (Paper). New York: Atria Books. ISBN 0743278070.
  • 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. ISBN 0907325912.
  • Serventi, Silvano; Sabban, Françoise (2002). Pasta: the Story of a Universal Food. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231124422.
  • Sinclair, Thomas R.; Sinclair, Carol Janas (2010). Bread, beer, and the seeds of change: Agriculture's imprint on world history. Wallingford: CABI. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-84593-704-1.

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of noodle at Wiktionary
  • Media related to Noodles at Wikimedia Commons