June 07, 2013

On the Noodle Road by Jen Lin-Liu

**This review is part of the Amazon Vine Program**

I love noodles. I could eat them every day whether it be macaroni and cheese, alfredo, filled pastas, lo-mein, well, you get the picture. There's something very comforting about them and it isn't a surprise that they are found in most cuisines around the world. But just how did they spread among all those cuisines is the question Lin-Liu attempts to answer in this book.

Lin-Liu, while living in China and working at her cooking school, decides to follow the Silk Road from China to Italy in search of where noodles originated and how they have persevered through the cultures. She'll go through all of China, Iran, Turkey, and many other countries before finally finishing in Italy. And she'll seek out noodles in each of these places although in some, they are harder to find. Additionally, this is a memoir of sorts that expresses Lin-Liu's troubles with her new marriage and search for herself in the relationship.

Lin-Liu and her husband aren't the only people featured in this book though. She encounters so many people in her travels that they are all included here as well. And she offers a commentary on their lives as they are bound by their customs and rules of the countries. She expresses her vehemence quite often at some of the traditions that bind women to their homes and their kitchens, even as she enjoys the tasty food that comes out of them. Her relationship with her husband is less interesting though, and while I can appreciate that she tried to make this a memoir in addition to food writing, I just don't think it was the right mix to make it interesting. I cared more about the food and who made it than I did about her personal life, right or wrong as that may be.

There was a lot of food in this book (recipes too). And the majority of the book was luckily about food, because as said before, I wasn't as interested in the memoir part of this book. I do think that China was probably my favorite region that Lin-Liu described. All of the noodle dishes sounded wonderful and I think I'll definitely make good use of that recipe section (all the recipes are at the end of the chapter for each respective country). Iran, the people she spoke with were interesting, but the food didn't hold as much appeal for me. The same goes for Turkey. And Italy wasn't described near as much as I thought it would be, considering they are known for their noodles. And while the writing was a little choppy, with less than smooth transitions between the countries, it was still approachable writing and easy to read. Lin-Liu writes like she probably talks, and it is easy to get absorbed, although long-winded at times.

I enjoyed the book but I don't see myself going back to it again and again (unless it's to use the recipes). It offered a unique perspective on noodle dishes and nice descriptions of foods for any foodie, but was a bit too meandering to be a repetitive read.

On The Noodle Road
Copyright 2013
384 pages

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