In search of the Arab noodle

While it may (repeat may) be true that the Chinese were the true originators of the noodle, nowadays most food historians treat the noodle-making of the East and that of the West as entirely separate traditions. I think it’s fair to do so, if only because the materials they’re made from and the manner in which they’re consumed are so totally different. Chinese noodles, when they’re not made from rice or soy, are made from extremely soft wheats that give them a very supple texture, so much so that most Far Eastern noodles are consumed in soup. Westerners by comparison, and especially the Italians, make their noodles with hard wheat, which gives them a very firm texture on the plate.

What I find myself wondering is what the noodles of the apparent middlemen, the Arabs, tasted like. For indeed noodles seemed to have been nothing but a passing fancy for them. I’m no expert on Middle Eastern food mind you, but noodles aren’t the first thing I think about when I consider Arab cuisine. If there’s anybody out there who can shed a little light on this subject, by all means send me an email!

2 thoughts on “In search of the Arab noodle”

  1. I can give you at least a partial answer to that – I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading recently on mediaeval Arabic cooking. According to the recipes I have on hand at the moment, which are from 13th c. Syrian, Egyptian, and Andalusian sources, pasta was made from semolina or wheat flour, water, salt, and occasionally “yeast”, which as far as I can tell must be a sourdough starter. I don’t see any that use eggs; that seems to be a European thing. As far as shape, several of them are hand-shaped into small bits “the size of a grain of wheat”, or in one case the size of chickpeas (the mind boggles at the thought of producing that kind of thing in quantity), and others are rolled out thin and cut into strips or squares.

    1. Wonderful, Jane! Thanks so much for the great information. Please come back soon!

      – Joe

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