Longevity Noodles during Chinese New Years
These aren't just any pasta that you buy off the shelf. Longevity noodles get their name from their long lengths. The longer the noodle, the longer the wish you bestow upon your guests for a long and healthy life. During many Chinese holidays, but especially at New Years, food represents our wishes and hopes for the future. The themes are almost always around happiness, wealth, health, and off-springs.
Traditional longevity noodles are made with a single lump of dough. The dough is stretched, then folded and stretched again until each fold creates thin threads of noodles. The process is not done until there are a "thousand" strands of noodles, yet another influence of superstition and lucky numbers.
After the noodles are made, they are often served in stews or mixed with vegetables and meats to complete the meal. The proper way to eat the noodle is to not break the long strand, but consume it whole. For, to break the noodle would mean you are breaking your luck and chances at a long and healthy life.
In today's busy world, most people purchase their noodles from grocery stores. These noodles are often made by larger manufacturers, using machines and technology to speed up the process of stretching and folding. Still, in some back streets of China, the noodle vendors carry on the tradition. The vendors make the noodles with lightning speed, creating the thousand strands in seemingly minutes. Their shops are filled with noodles dangling from above to keep the long strands from tangling and breaking before they are served. People come up to the shops and buy the noodles, cooked already in clear beef or ox broths or carry some noodles home to cook for themselves. It's like stepping back in time to see one of these shops in operation.
Regardless of if you purchase or have the opportunity to visit one fabulous shops in China, noodles continue to be the symbol of health and longevity of life to the Chinese people. So during this Chinese New Years, take some time out to celebrate with a big bowl of pasta and toast to your health and the health of those you love!
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