On the Noodle Road by Jen Lin-Liu
From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta

74%

5 Critic Reviews

It makes you wish that the world's cultures could mingle more freely, making peace by breaking bread. For now, though, this book stands as a tantalizing glimpse of what might be.
-NPR

Synopsis

A food writer travels the Silk Road, immersing herself in a moveable feast of foods and cultures and discovering some surprising truths about commitment, independence, and love.

As a newlywed traveling in Italy, 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. But also: How had food and culture moved along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route linking Asia to Europe—and what could still be felt of those long-ago migrations? With her new husband’s blessing, she set out 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.

The 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 samples, listening to the women talk about their lives and longings, Lin-Liu gains a new appreciation of her own marriage, learning to savor the sweetness of love freely chosen.
 

About Jen Lin-Liu

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Jen Lin-Liu was born in California but has lived in China for more than half of her adult life. The founder of Black Sesame Kitchen, a Beijing cooking school, she is the author of a previous book, Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey through China. She has written about food, culture, and travel for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Saveur, Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, and others. She and her husband live in Chengdu, China, with their daughter, Sierra.
 
Published July 25, 2013 by Riverhead Books. 400 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, Cooking, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for On the Noodle Road
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Apr 08 2013

...appalled or pleasantly surprised by strange ingredients; and, from yurt to hovel, delighted by the local hospitality. Lin-Liu’s journey is a bold palate-awakening adventure, endearingly rendered.

Read Full Review of On the Noodle Road: From Beij... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Graeme Wood on Aug 30 2013

Food writing...requires curiosity about food, divine or disgusting, and the culture that makes it. Marco Polo, the author says, dined on prairie dogs...One wishes Ms. Lin-Liu had taken the risk, tried a prairie dog and learned to like it...

Read Full Review of On the Noodle Road: From Beij... | See more reviews from WSJ online

NPR

Good
Reviewed by T. Susan Chang on Aug 03 2013

It makes you wish that the world's cultures could mingle more freely, making peace by breaking bread. For now, though, this book stands as a tantalizing glimpse of what might be.

Read Full Review of On the Noodle Road: From Beij... | See more reviews from NPR

NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Karl Wolff on Jul 25 2013

...both the journey and the cuisine is worth discovering, especially to those fond of culinary travelogues.

Read Full Review of On the Noodle Road: From Beij... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Carolyn Kellogg on Jul 19 2013

Each section of the book concludes with a handful of recipes, best for those already skilled enough to make pasta from scratch. Little expertise, however, is needed to enjoy the journey, an intelligent beach read that will set your stomach rumbling.

Read Full Review of On the Noodle Road: From Beij... | See more reviews from LA Times

Reader Rating for On the Noodle Road
72%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 63 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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