Wednesday, December 27, 2017

More than a Noodle Soup Bowl

For the sake of SEO and other out-of-the context considerations, I will add the label 'cookbook' to this book. In fact though, it is more than a simple collection of recipes, but an anthopological journey of noodles, their meanings and local translations. 
'An epistemology of the noodle soup' - with a continual presence starting from the Bronze Age on the territory on what is today's China - may include the answer to the question: 'How do we know what counts as noodle soup?'. But happily, this book touches upon the limits of other issues associated with them. For instance, the bowl soup, to whose beauty a couple of paragraphs are dedicated. Obviously, 'not every bowl is intended for noodle soup', but there are more subtle observations as well: 'If you want to see through a clear soup, make sure it's a white bowl, either porcelain or made with a white slip'. The author, which for 2 and half years practiced noodle soups every morning for at least 15 minutes, makes bowls too, so the experience talks here too, it seems. Last but not least, keep in mind that chopsticks are 'crucial in constructing the entire noodle soup aesthetic'. In fact, every stage of preparing the noodles and the bowls as such are part of a larger existential exercise. Did you ever think that 'cutting soba by hand is a meditative practice'? 
'There is no denying that dried pasta is just about the most convenient food product imaginable; it's easy to cook, virtually indestructible and can be kept in your cabinet just for those occasions when you don't have a lot of time to fuss'. However, if you read this book seriously - with side notes and specific adnotations - you will realize that you can do your own noodles, but in fact it is not as easy as it sounds. It requires not only practice, but a rich imagination. Otherwise, how someone can figure out how to prepare a reconstructed - noodle soup - dish of a Reuben sandwich, or Baba ganoush?
As for me, I would rather keep reading this book, couple of minutes the day, for getting the right practices as much as my cooking abilities allows, in terms of matching stocks, types of noodles and, why not, bowls too.

Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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