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For other uses, see Noodle (disambiguation).
Misua noodle making Taiwan.jpg
Misua noodle making in Lukang, Taiwan
Type Noodle
Creator Attributed to people of Qijia culture, Arabian and/or Mediterranean origin [1]
Main ingredients Unleavened dough
Variations Numerous
Cookbook: Noodle  Media: Noodle

Noodles are a staple food in many cultures made from unleavened dough which is stretched, extruded, or rolled flat and cut into one of a variety of shapes. A single noodle can be made, eaten, or extracted from a serving of noodles, but it is more common to serve and eat many at once, and thus more common to see the plural form of the word.

While long, thin strips may be the most common, many varieties of noodles are cut into waves, helices, tubes, strings, or shells, or folded over, or cut into other shapes. Noodles are usually cooked in boiling water, sometimes with cooking oil or salt added. They are often pan-fried or deep-fried. Noodles are often served with an accompanying sauce or in a soup. Noodles can be refrigerated for short-term storage, or dried and stored for future use. The material composition or geocultural origin must be specified when discussing noodles. The word derives from the German word Nudel.[2] The oldest evidence of noodle consumption, from 4,000 years ago, has been found in China.[3]


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

The origin of noodles is ambiguous. Claims have been made that the noodle was invented by people of Qijia culture, of Arabian and of Mediterranean origin.[1] Given the scarcity of physical evidence, it is unlikely that the question of origin can even be answered with certainty.

In 2005, a team of archaeologists working in the People's Republic of China reported finding an earthenware bowl that contained foxtail millet and broomcorn millet.[4] noodles at the Lajia archaeological site, arguably hailing from the late neolithic period. But this claim was disputed by later research,[5] which suggested that noodles simply cannot be produced from millet, a cereal that lacks gluten, a necessary protein.[6]

The earliest written record of noodles is found in a book dated to the Eastern Han period (25–220).[7] Noodles, often made from wheat dough, became a staple food for people of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE).[8] During the Tang Dynasty, the noodles were first cut into strips, and in the Yuan Dynasty, the making of dried noodles began.


Wheat noodles in Japan (udon) were adapted from a Chinese recipe by a Buddhist monk as early as the 9th century[citation needed]. Reshteh noodles were eaten by the people of Persia by the 13th century. Innovations continued, as for example, noodles made from kudzu (naengmyeon) were developed in the Joseon Dynasty of Korea (1392–1897). Ramen noodles, based on Chinese noodles, became popular in Japan by 1900.

A bowl of roasted beef noodles.

Instant noodles were invented by Momofuku Ando and first marketed in Japan in 1958.[9] According to Ando's method, a bundle of fresh noodles is flash-fried, which dries them out and provides for a long shelf life.

Europe and the Near East

In the 1st century BCE, Horace wrote of fried sheets of dough called lagana.[10] 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.[11] In the 2nd century CE, the Greek physician Galen mentioned itrion, referring to all homogenous mixtures from flour and water.[12] The Latinized itrium was used as a reference to a kind of boiled dough.[12] The Jerusalem Talmud records that itrium was common in Palestine from the 3rd to 5th centuries CE.[13] Arabs adapted noodles for long journeys in the 5th century, the first written record of dry pasta. The 9th-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.[14] Muhammad al-Idrisi wrote in 1154 that itriyya was manufactured and exported from Norman Sicily. Itriya was also known by the Aramaic speakers under the Persian sphere and during the Islamic rule referred to a small soup noodle prepared by twisting bits of kneaded dough into shape.[15]

The first concrete information on pasta products in Italy dates to the 13th or 14th centuries.[16] 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.[17]

Types of noodles by primary ingredient

See also: List of noodles

Types of dishes

Noodles in art

Commonly referred to as macaroni art, dry noodles may consist of individual pieces of macaroni glued to a surface to produce a mosaic, or may take the form of sculptures.


See also


  1. ^ a b Silvano Serventi, Françoise Sabban, Pasta : the Story of a Universal Food, New York, Columbia University Press, 2002. pp. 271-344
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas. "noodle". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 14 October 2009. 
  3. ^ 4,000-Year-Old Noodles Found in China
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ GE, W., LIU, L., CHEN, X. and 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
  6. ^
  7. ^ Roach, John (2005). "4,000-Year-Old Noodles Found in China". National Geographic. pp. 1–2. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Momofuku Ando, TIMESONLINE 10 January 2007
  10. ^ Serventi & Sabban 2002:15–16 & 24
  11. ^ Serventi & Sabban 2002:15–16
  12. ^ a b Serventi & Sabban 2002:17
  13. ^ Serventi & Sabban 2002:29
  14. ^ "A medical text in Arabic written by a Jewish doctor living in Tunisia in the early 900s" (Dickie 2008: 21).
  15. ^ Rodinson, Maxime; Perry, Charles (2001). Medieval Arab Cookery. Prospect Books. p. 253. 
  16. ^ Serventi & Sabban 2002:10
  17. ^ German Embassy London - Spätzle


  • Dickie, John (2008), Delizia! The Epic History of Italians and Their Food, New York 
  • 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.