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March is National Noodle Month

March 08, 2008

A noodle is a thin strip of pasta, usually cut or extruded from some kind of dough. It is the basic unit in dishes like spaghetti, linguine, etc. The word noodle derives from Latin nodus (knot), via German Nudel (noodle, pasta). The Chinese, Arab and Italian people all claimed to have been the first to create this string-like food, though the first written account of noodles is from the East Han Dynasty. Legend has it that the noodle was brought to Italy from China by Marco Polo.

What is the difference between Pasta and Noodles?
Pasta is usually made with wheat (usually durum or semolina –extracted from durum wheat kernels) but not with eggs; by federal law a noodle must contain 5.5 percent egg solids by weight to be called a noodle. Asian noodles are made from flour usually contain eggs and are classified as egg noodles. Noodles in Asian dishes are often made from other flours: rice, buckwheat and potatoes. Sometimes they are made with other ingredients, such as yams (not to be confused with sweet potatoes) and soybeans.

You can prepare noodles in soups, stews, casseroles and with sauce. One of the most popular ways toeat noodles is in Chicken noodle soup. Egg noodles are available in Fine, Medium, Wide and Extra Wide. Noodle consumption increases by approximately 20 % during the colder months as well as during Lent, when countless people prepare meatless meals prior to Easter. Noodles are comfort food and are used to sooth a cold, a broken heart, and burst bubble or winter-time blues.

You can substitute noodles for many pasta varieties. The difference in lo mein and chow mein isn’t the actual noodle, but in the preparation. In Chinese, mein refers collectively to noodles. Lo mein is a poultry, beef, shrimp or vegetable dish served over soft noodles and chow mein is a dish that is prepared by stir frying the noodles with the other ingredients in the wok.

A half-cup serving of cooked noodles contains just one gram of fat, 106 calories, one gram of fat, five milligrams of sodium, B-vitamins, iron, and protein. Noodles are high in complex carbohydrates.

Today most people have machines to help knead dough for pasta and bread and a pasta machine that will do both kneading and rolling dough and cut it into a variety of shapes and sizes to prepare dishes like cannelloni, tortellini, ravioli, fettuccine and lasagna. 

Enjoy National Noodle month!

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