Friday, March 19, 2010

NOTD #4: Shaanxi noodles (biang biang mian)

Apologies for the long delay--worst blogger ever. I even have wireless at home, so there's no excuse for my long absence (other than a conference paper that I'm frantically trying to finish, a trip to the National Library, aka The Most Confusing Building In China, and my first round of interviews...).

Last summer, my friend Sarah promised to introduce me to biang biang mian, a type of noodle notable not only for its deliciousness but also for the absurd complexity of its written name. The character biang is so complicated and contains so many strokes (and, probably, is so infrequently used) that it doesn't even exist in most electronic lists of characters; while the restaurant that serves biang biang mian has the kind of laminated, type-written, Chinese language-only menu common in a lot of hole-in-the-wall places, the character biang has been written in by hand.

Biang biang mian are not the easiest noodles to eat--they're at least two inches wide and probably six inches long. A few of them come folded in a bowl with some greens and a lot of this rust-colored chili paste, and that's it. Simple, spicy, chewy--why is it that China has mastered the art of the chewy noodle and has not yet exported it to the States?--and (as I think I've written about other noodles) addictive. I've been to the restaurant twice in ten days and am already planning my next visit.

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