Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
Combining travelogue, history, cultural investigation, food diary, recipes, and memoir, On the Noodle Road is a layered treat of a book. Journalist and cooking school founder Jen Lin-Liu was inspired to travel the ancient Silk Road route from Beijing to Rome after being struck by similarities between Chinese and Italian pasta dishes. Common wisdom holds that Marco Polo brought the noodle from China back to Italy, but the evidence is shaky. Lin-Liu decided to investigate cooking styles along the Silk Road to see what she could learn about the long history of noodle cuisine.
Traveling sometimes with her new husband, sometimes alone, Lin-Liu visits and shares food preparations in home kitchens and restaurants, often in places far off the beaten path. She journeyed through Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and the culturally distinct western provinces of China, including the disputed territory of Tibet. Cooking together turned out to be an interesting and intimate way to get to know people, especially the women she meets, and reading about her experiences is fascinating. Lin-Liu writes candidly about their lives, cultures, and family dynamics--and about how what she sees impacts her struggles to balance or blend the fiercely independent woman she always has been with her new married life.
If your experience is like mine, On the Noodle Road will make you want to take a food adventure yourself, but at least you'll be craving finely cooked meals made from scratch with fresh local produce, not junk food. Recipes are included in the book and more are on Lin-Liu website.