On the Noodle Road
Feasting her way through an Italian honeymoon, Jen Lin-Liu was struck by culinary echoes of the delicacies she ate and cooked back in China, where she'd lived for more than a decade. Who really invented the noodle, she wondered, like many before her. With her new husband's blessing, she set out along the ancient trading route of the Silk Road to discover the connections, both historical and personal, eating a path through western China and on into Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, and across the Mediterranean. Her fascinating journey takes Lin-Liu into the private kitchens where the headscarves come off and women not only knead and simmer but also confess and confide. The thin rounds of dough stuffed with meat that are dumplings in Beijing evolve into manti in Turkey - their tiny size the measure of a bride's worth - and end as tortellini in Italy. And as she stirs and tastes, listening to the women talk about their lives and longings, Lin-Liu gains a new appreciation of her own marriage, learning to savour the sweetness of love freely chosen.
Jen Lin-Liu is the author of Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey through China.