Researchers describe the discovery in China of a bowl of beautifully preserved, thin yellow noodles that are half a metre long and about 4,000 years old.
VOL.437 NO.7061 DATED 13 OCTOBER 2005
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Oldest recorded noodles come from China
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 Oldest recorded noodles come from China (p 967-968)
So you thought that noodles originated in Italy? Not true, say Houyuan Lu
and colleagues. In a Brief Communication in this week's Nature, they
describe the discovery in China of a bowl of beautifully preserved, thin
yellow noodles that are half a metre long and about 4,000 years old.
The researchers discovered the noodles inside an overturned sealed bowl
under 3 metres of floodplain sediment in Lajia, an archaeological site by
the Yellow River in northwestern China. The site harbours a settlement that
was probably destroyed 4,000 years ago by a major earthquake and flood.
To identify the plants the noodles were made from, the team looked at the
shape and patterning of starch grains and so-called seed-husk 'phytoliths'
in the bowl containing the noodles, and compared them with modern crops.
They concluded that the noodles had been prepared using grains from millet
grass. This is different from modern noodles, which are made with wheat
flour. But apart from that, the ancient noodles were produced in just the
same way as noodles today: the grains were ground into flour that was used
to make dough, which was then pulled and stretched into shape before
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