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4893Re: Pasta history: China

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  • Phoenix
    Dec 14, 2010
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      Dear Justin,

      The idea of pasta coming from Asia is nothing new.
      Italy had pasta earlier than most people think
      (people i know, not the erudite folks on this site!)

      My beloved myth of Marco Polo bringing noodles home from China
      is debunked here:
      http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/marco-polo-pasta1.htm

      Be sure to go to the 'next page' to see the bibliography.

      The article musing about the Chinese possibly baking before the Egyptians is roaringly funny! what a laugh!

      The link provided to the Egyptian bakery excavation refutes the
      premise of the author of the noodle & cakes article!

      It tells of the peak period for that particular bakery's production as being from 1700 - 1500 BCE, the Middle Kingdom and 2nd Intermediate period. Right there it is established that this
      one bakery alone is 1000 years older than the Chinese production
      they are talking about! We know the Egyptians were baking looong before that!

      If you like the moon cakes, Chiu Quon in Chinatown has good ones.
      http://www.yelp.com/biz/chiu-quon-bakery-chicago

      My son and i prefer the Baby Moon Cakes because they do not have hard boiled egg in or on them, as regular 'big' Moon Cakes do. Baby Moon Cakes are our traditional lunar New Year treat served with tea and other Chinese pastries for the Lunar Year. (Feb. 3 this year is the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit.)

      As far as the Arabs bringing pasta to Europe -
      I think that anyone who has ever baked bread or cookies, etc. has played around with plain dough scraps. Baking them unleavened gives a sort of pasta or cracker, while leavened bread gives us bread-sticks, rolls, or crackers. While Arabs may have introduced certain recipes or types of grain product to trade partners (semolina?), it is as likely that every nation that used grain as food had some indigenous form of noodle.

      Let's not forget dumplings, (another form of ravioli, kreplach, kibbeh, or pierogi in many senses) - how long have dumplings been around? Probably almost as long as bread has been produced or mush was stirred up on a cold morning - leftover mush or dough could be formed into balls and flattened, or rolled into different thicknesses of dough, or made into balls with pockets hollowed in them, holding tasty morsels to be dropped into soup or stew, or deep-fried, or steamed, etc. If baked, they become a type of empañada, kibbeh, or samosa. Maybe if they are baked or fried they become little pies or tarts... Of course, if that leftover dough or mush were made into flattish ribbons, 'worms', tubes, etc. and dried, then we have pasta.

      on a different but related note:
      I recently purchased a nice food book -
      "A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East", Edited by Sami Zubaida & Richard Tapper,Foreword by Claudia Roden, Tauris Parke Paperbacks, London & New York; ©1994, 2000 Sami Zubaida & Richard Tapper. ISBN 1 86064 603 4

      The chapter "Rice in the Culinary Cultures of the Middle East"
      mentions on page 102 that, "Bazin and Bromberger record that the people of this region are proud of their rice diet, and contemptuous of neighbors who eat other grains, believing such a diet to be harmful. An angry husband would snap at his wifwe, "Go eat bread and burst!" and a parent would thraten an errant child with being sent to Araq (in the interior), where he would have to eat bread."

      Pasta can be cut into tiny rice shaped bits, such as orzo.
      My grandmother used it when they could not afford rice.

      Happy dinner to everyone,
      Demetria


      --- In Apicius@yahoogroups.com, jdm314@... wrote:
      >
      > The topic of pasta and its origins comes up from time to time on this list, so I thought the following articles would be of interest to you:
      >
      >
      >
      > http://ancientfoods.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/chinese-noodle-dinner-buried-for-2500-years/
      > http://ancientfoods.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/4000-year-old-noodles-found-in-china/
      >
      > The more recent article, on the more recent pasta, bothers me a little in its comparison to Egypt:
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > "Since the cakes were cooked in an oven-like hearth, the findings suggest that the Chinese may have been among the world’s first bakers. Prior research determined the ancient Egyptians were also baking bread at around the same time, but this latest discovery indicates that individuals in northern China were skillful bakers who likely learned baking and other more complex cooking techniques much earlier."
      >
      >
      >
      > This sort of implies, without saying, that this discovery might indicate that the Chinese were baking before the Egyptians. But "2,500 years ago" is hardly early in Egyptian history!
      >
      >
      > Anyway, the article covers some other food items, admittedly far, far away from the Roman sphere, but in about the right time period for us. I particularly like the "moon cakes."
      >
      >
      > JDM
      >
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      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
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