While noodling through a newspaper Shanghaiist came upon the story of an interesting archaeological find in Qinghai province: a remarkably well preserved bowl of mian that had been sitting there for 4,000 years. That’s older than some of the stuff in our fridge.
The noodles were discovered in the excavation of the site known as Lajia on the upper reaches of the Yellow River in Qinghai province. Mr Lu’s team has been digging there for several years and have found the remains of a primitive, Neolithic village.
Earlier this year, Mr Lu said, the team found a very well-preserved bowl buried upside down in a fine, brownish-yellow clay. When they removed the bowl, the lid remained behind, buried in a cone of silt. Lying on top of the cone was a fist-sized mass of noodles.
The Italians say they created the noodle as the perfect complement for tomato sauces; the Chinese say the Italians got it from them, via Marco Polo; Arabs claim its creation as an easily stored foodstuff suitable for long treks on the desert. The Japanese, Koreans, French and Germans have also claimed the noodle as their own invention.
It’s a complicated debate, too. Particularly when you throw in the even weightier conundrum: did Marco Polo ever visit China?
Apparently the adventurer’s account of his visit to China is a bit suspicious since it’s full of glaring omissions — cultural aspects of life in this country which every subsequent traveler remarked upon at great length because they were so different. (Like everyone cutting in line at the bank).
But we’re going to stay out of that one. All we know is that these crusty Qinghai noodles are the oldest ever discovered. Not only that, “they predate the first written mention of noodles by at least 2,000 years.”
Did we say crusty? Actually, Shanghaiist had several drinks last night, so even the sound of a 4,000-year-old portion of noodles sounds appetizing — particularly a “fist-sized mass”. Handful of lajiao, handful of fresh coriander: awesome.
Right, that’s it. Time to duck out for a bowl of the good stuff. Maybe at this place.
On second thoughts, Shanghaiist is hungover. Where’s that Sherpa’s menu?