Cooked Noodles Served At Street Restaurant Near City Wall, Xian .

The smell of Chinese food being cooked at street restaurants near to a city gate, attracted us like bees to honey. Cooked noodles were amongst the dishes being served to customers at pavement tables in one side street, then there were more tables, and more customers, at another street close by. At the second street restaurant could not only be seen the noodles being cooked, but also noodles being made by hand from fresh dough. Is the person who makes the noodles from dough a cook, or just a noodle maker? It was quite busy at the time of our visit so as the making of one batch of noodles was finished, another lump of dough was kneaded, stretched, folded and swung, the stretch, fold, swing stages being repeated until the noodles had reached the desired thickness. It was fascinating to watch the noodles being made from fresh dough, particularly as the noodles we had been used to eating at home, had always been dried noodles from packets. The freshly made noodles were cooked in a soup with chicken or with beef, or with anything else you cared to order on the menu.

Our supper of freshly cooked noodles tasted delicious! Was it because the noodles were freshly made, because we were hungry, or because of the location at which we were having our meal? It doesn't really matter, whatever was the reason, it was an enjoyable way to have supper 'alfresco'. These 'pavement restaurants' are not an unfamiliar sight in towns and cities where the evening air is cooler outside than indoors, particularly when air-conditioning is not available. The cost of a snack or a full meal is well within the means of most of the people in the area. There are many different such providers in an area that has become popular, so the competition for customers keeps the prices low. Having a meal of freshly made noodles in a restaurant of a five star hotel would certainly cost more..... considerably more!

Photo of scene from street restaurant where noodles were cooked over a drum filled with burning fuel looking like coal bricks.

Street Restaurant Where Freshly Cooked Noodles Eaten AlFresco .

It is often asked whether eating such food presents a health risk to the western visitor. It should not be, because all the food is cooked at very high temperatures. If it can be seen, that the food served to the table has been freshly cooked, and conforms with what was ordered, then the likelihood of any ill affects from eating the food, is very low. There is not likely to be any greater risk of eating a street meal in China than there is in eating a hamburger off a street stall in a European city. Once, during a visit to Guilin whilst we were waiting for a boat to take us down the Li River to Yangshuo, a friend came back to the spot where we were waiting, holding and munching a sort of folded pancake, stuffed with a savoury filling. He had bought the freshly cooked pancake off a street stall because, and he said, 'I'm hungry!'... he survived without any ill effects!

A greater variety of noodles are now available from supermarkets in the UK such as Tesco. Rice noodles, wheat noodles, requiring cooking and flavouring, packet noodles or drum noodles, requiring only application of boiling water, and left to stand for a few minutes. Is it any surprise to learn that noodles are now becoming more popular?

''''' Chinese cuisine includes many different types of noodles, called mian . "Mian" refers to noodles made from wheat while "fen" or "fun" refers to noodles made from rice. Unlike many western noodles and pastas, Chinese wheat noodles are usually made from salted dough and therefore do not require the addition of salt to the liquid in which they are cooked. Chinese noodles also cook very quickly, requiring less than 5 minutes to become al dente and some taking less than a minute to finish cooking. Nomenclature of the noodles is difficult due to the vast spectrum available and the many dialects of Chinese used to name them. Each noodle type can be rendered in pinyin for Mandarin, but in Hong Kong and neighboring Guangdong it will be known by its Cantonese pronunciation, while Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and many other Overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia will use Hokkien instead. Src: '''''

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Picture of young Chinese boy trying to catch plane in Tiananmen Square.
1st June, 2007

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