Category Archives: Blog entry 5

Project reflection

1. Briefly summarize your project. Reflect on one aspect of the project that you find most interesting or rewarding. 2. What did you learn from the project, both about the noodle and about Chinese/Italian cultures and societies? 3. Discuss your team. What went well? What didn’t go well? Why? We did our project on the fusilli noodle, a spiral and spun noodle from Southern Italy. This noodle was brought to my attention by Claire. I had seen the noodle before but never used it myself. The fusilli noodle comes from Molise, a mostly agrarian region in Southern Italy that focuses mainly on agriculture, food production, tourism and is the home of Fiat car manufacturing. Durum wheat is one of the main crops, and the fusilli noodle is made with that local wheat, salt, and eggs, just like most noodles throughout Italy. Actually making the noodles requires making the pasta dough 1/8 inch thick and then cutting it into strips. The strips are then wrapped around a thin spindle, rolled on a ridged board to create the characteristic ridges, and then taken off the skewer and dried. A laborious process that in the end every person will enjoy regardless of the amount of effort put into each individual. The process of making fusilli really relates to the Italian idea of ‘work to eat,’ along with healthy living and eating habits from farm to plate esque practices. Even once you have the noodles, you have to make the sauce with fresh and local ingredients that can be found typically in your backyard or local market. We worked the fusilli with pesto sauce, so most of the recipes we saw were sauces with broccoli and anchovies, or spinach and cheese, or zucchini sauce. The pasta acts as a base for the vegetables to create a cohesive and delicious dish. In a region where agriculture is a main industry, fresh vegetables would not be very expensive. This pasta is seen a lot in antipasto dishes used with vegetables to make what Americans would see as a pasta salad of sorts. Working with Claire is always great, the week we were doing the project we were sparse on being able to physically be together just because of commitments that were uncomplimentary to one another. So we divided the labor and used the magic of technology to get it done in efficient ways while pushing back and forth the poster board. Looking forward to working with her in the future as well.

Fettuccine with a friend: Poster Project Reflection – (Rhea Nair ITAL190) Post 5

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About a week or so before Spring Break, one of my classmates, Lucy Hansen, asked me if I wanted to work on a pair project together. Since I walked into class a few minutes late that day, I missed the description of what project really entailed, but it was during the class (while we worked on an in-class activity) that I first noticed that Lucy and I worked well together.   The project we were assigned required us to create a poster about a noodle and we chose Fettuccine. While we met all the requirements that included some basic information about the pasta, a recipe and the cultural significance and general reflections on the pasta, Lucy and I really worked on personalization our entire project. As a result, we focused not only on the content we presented, but also the way we presented it, and tried to incorporate aspects of cultural relativism in our poster. This resulted in us using two different recipes and using this comparison to really understand the value of fettuccine. What I found really interesting learning about is the versatility of fettuccine. As a noodle with no ridges or curves, fettuccine can traditionally be made with sauces that are lighter and smooth. On the the other hand, as a long noodle that can be wound around a fork, it can be used with heavier sauces as well. Thus, fettuccine is made with a variety of sauces, but Lucy and I decided to focus on the sauce that fettuccine is most often married with globally today. What I found truly rewarding was realizing the influence of culture on the actual ingredients used in making the now well known Alfredo sauce, as well as the story behind it. To know that Alfredo was originally created out of love, to help settle a wife’s morning sickness, and that it exploded on the culinary map specifically to due to media and the glamor of Hollywood, gave us a real insight into understanding the meaning behind the recipe and how time and culture have affected the way it is made. Finally, what I find particularly interesting to note is that while Fettuccine Alfredo today is considered integral to Italian-American cuisine and Italian cuisine the way it is perceived globally, this union holds no special significance in Italy. In fact, fettuccine is cooked a range of other sauces and holds much of a humble yet revered place as a pasta itself. Actually cooking was also really relaxing and a good break from the usual assignments we get to work on during the week. I used to bake and occasionally cook whenever I got stressed out back home (which is why one of my roommates from boarding school made me the hat I wore as a graduation gift), and getting the chance to do so in college and earn credit for it was really something I appreciated. I also took Visual Art in high school and was more than happy to be creative again. 12106725_1033355376738875_968319055580453757_n 1170657_1033355360072210_8353044186505649232_n As already mentioned, Lucy and I worked really well together. The only thing that really concerned me was getting enough time together as we both have pretty busy schedules. Despite a constraint on time, I believe we were a great team because we really complement each other. Lucy is really logical and systematic while I’m more intuitive and visual. We both bounced ideas off each other and integrated aspects that we agreed on together. Lucy came up with the idea of using the raw fettuccine as frames for all of our text blocks and was really understanding when I was near getting all over the place or needed time to work on some details. I definitely gained a lot from this project and working with Lucy specifically, because I was able to really see her perspective on the assignment and the way she worked through the tasks we had, as he way of seeing and doing things is so different from mine. Overall, this was a challenging, yet highly enjoyable and rewarding assignment that definitely taught me not only about noodles, but also gave me new insight in to working in a team and in more than one way.

Domain entry 5 – unearthing stories from a summer delicacy (Koby Han)

Me and my partner, Jina Kim, decided to create a poster on a very common Korean noodle dish called Naengmyeon. It literally means ‘cold noodles’ in Korean. Our project focused on two aspects: aesthetic presentation and profound explanation on the cultural significance of Naengmyeon. Before this project, I had always thought Naengmyeon as a simple, yet, mouth-watering dish I would crave for during summer. I found it extremely interesting to be challenged to analyze on its cultural significance. It was not easy to be forced to break out of my fixated perspective on Naengmyeon. Naengmyeon indeed is such a common food that people would normally not think of it beyond an everyday food. Perhaps this is an innate behavior of us; our perspective on everyday object would not stretch out unless we are forced to. The fact that I was looking at Naengmyeon as just Naengmyeon frustrated me in the beginning because it meant that there are numerous other everyday objects which I neglect to see beyond their primary functions. Although I was able to come up with some solid cultural significance, this aspect of the project really drove me to question my scope and perspective on everyday objects. I simply had no idea Naengmyeon traditionally was a winter delicacy. Because it was difficult to keep the soup cold during other seasons, Naengmyeon was widely enjoyed in the winter. Also, it was surprising to learn about Naengmyeon’s relation with alcohol. Apparently Naengmyeon is a great hangover reliever which people enjoyed hundred years ago. Naengmyeon is a popular dish in China too, especially in Yanbian region. Many Koreans, especially North Koreans, defected to China during the Korean War in 1950s. They are technically Chinese who maintain Korean heritage to these days. The fact that Naengmyeon is widespread in China signifies its globalization, but it also indicates the poignant after-effect of the Korean war whereby ordinary citizens were forced to escape out of their home country for survival. Jina Kim was an amazing partner. She was in charge of the overall aesthetic design of the poster and I was in charge of the contents. With absolute faith in her designing skills, I assisted her with decoration wholeheartedly and without any complaints. What did not go well was that we did not have sufficient materials to cook a typical Naengmyeon in Korea. Our dish was rather plain because there were no cucumbers, sesame seeds, eggs and other ingredient. It would have been a better opportunity for the professors and other students in the seminar class if we were able to produce an authentic Naengmyeon.

Poster Project Reflection (CHN/ITL 190) by Cecillia Bae

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For our poster project, Ameya and I chose Singaporean street noodles. Growing up in Indonesia meant that I was able to easily fly to Singapore from time to time (since it’s only an hour away by plane), and that I could frequently taste this dish. I would often eat plates of these noodles at any Hawker centre, which are cafeteria-like open-air complexes in Singapore. While quite run-down, dirty, and very busy, these complexes are known to serve the most delicious, traditional Singaporean dishes. Therefore, it would be safe to say that Singaporean street noodles were a staple part of my childhood.

For me, it was interesting to learn about the actual meaning, culture, and history behind this dish, especially because it was one I consumed so often. It was interesting to learn that this dish too originated from the southern parts of China; before this project, I had only thought of it as a traditional Singaporean dish. To me, finding out about the origins of these noodles was the most interesting part of the project, because that illustrated that most origins of noodle dishes are intertwined, whether it be from China or Italy.

From this project, I was able to learn about the various origins and cultural/symbolic meanings of this dish. I learned that this dish not only originated from China, but also had a number of other influences; the curry-like spices in the dish were from Indian influences, while ingredients such as shrimp and the stir-fry components were due to Thai influences. To me, this was interesting as it truly illustrated that most dishes around the world are not products of one cultural influence, but of many intertwined.

It was also interesting to learn about the meaning behind this dish, as Singaporean street noodles are intended to be a fast-food type of dish. Most traditional dishes are meticulously prepared, and are known to be dishes in very formal, sit-down dinners; however, from the very start, the Singaporean street noodles were designed to reflect the globalized, entrepreneurial atmosphere Singapore is so famous for. This was fascinating to learn about, as the dish so accurately depicts the essence of the busy, but efficient Singaporean culture.

Ameya and I made a very quick and efficient team. Overall, the project went very well; we picked this topic together, only had to meet up once in order to complete it, and split the work fairly evenly.

Domain Entry 5, The Preparation and Significance of Dandan Noodles: A Reflection By: Ryann Khalil, CHN 190, 03/20/2015

My noodle project provided me with an experience that was challenging, yet fun, rewarding, and, informative. I had originally wanted to study Fettuccine, as I already had pictures of the noodles I had made from scratch over spring break. I began doing research, and, going into the week, I felt that it was going to be a good project. When my partner and I met to discuss the project on Monday night, however, we decided to take a different path. While we loved Italian food, we were very passionate about the cultural aspects of Chinese cuisine. We settled on Dandan noodles, a dish from Sichuan Province in southern-central China. We knew that it would be very difficult to obtain the proper ingredients for Dandan noodles; however, we both decided to try, substituting ingredients as needed. As we were unable to obtain egg noodles, we used a mixture of rice noodles and ramen noodles. The recipe called for fried pork; however, we didn’t know where we could find pork, so we substituted bok choi instead. We used almonds instead of soybeans, regular peppercorns instead of Sichuan peppercorns, and a bit of sugar instead of ginger (to give the dish some sweetness). I also ended up overusing the sesame paste. As is custom in Lebanon, my parents use plenty of tahini in their cooking, and I thought that the dish required a larger amount than it actually did. In the end, the dish that resulted barely resembled Dandan noodles. It had a strong sesame flavor, and lacked the high level of spiciness typical of Sichuan cuisine. My experience in preparing the dish showed me just how crucial the ingredients used are to the identity of a dish. Every ingredient was included for a reason, and, if too many are substituted out, the dish acquires a different identity.

After reading about the dish and flavors it contains, I realized just how sophisticated it really was. The Chinese believe that a dish must contain five main flavors (pungency, sweetness, sourness, saltiness, and bitterness) in order to be appropriate for the body. After examining a recipe for Dandan noodles, I realized that there is at least one ingredient corresponding to each taste. The Chinese also believe that their dishes should “work with” the external environment, in order to mitigate some of its harmful effects. Due to the high humidity of Sichuan Province, Dandan noodles are typically made very spicy because the Chinese believe that spiciness can be used to reduce the body’s level of “humidity”. While I had previously known about these principles, I never realized just how ubiquitous they were. Previously, I had thought that these principles were only applied to cuisine in very traditional, formal banquets. I now realize that the principles of Chinese cuisine are applied to a wide variety of dishes, even to simple snacks like Dandan noodles.

One of the most difficult parts of the project for me was finding the type of noodle that is used. Some of the websites I visited told me that egg noodles were used; others told me that wheat noodles were used. After discussing the matter with my partner, we decided that more than half of the recipes we looked at had egg noodles; however, we still could not find the name of the specific type of noodle used! We eventually decided to do Lo Mien noodles, as they are one of the most common types of egg noodles available in China; if such a thing exists, they may even be considered to be the “typical” egg noodles. I realized that my inability to find the name for the type of noodle could actually tell me something about the noodle in Chinese cuisine. The names of Italian noodle dishes typically have two parts: the name of the noodle and the name of the sauce (ex. Fettuccine alla boscaiola). Chinese noodle dishes, however, usually have a one-part name (Dandan), sometimes with the word “noodles” tacked on to the end. This highlights a fundamental cultural difference between Italian and Chinese attitudes towards the noodle. The Italians view the noodle as the central component of the dish; as a result, the type of noodle used is very important. The Chinese, on the other hand, view the noodle as simply another ingredient. The type of noodle used is not considered to be as critical to the integrity of the dish.

Overall, I felt as though my partner and I made a great team. We did much of our research together, and effectively divided the other parts of the project to do on our own. My greatest regret was that we were unable to work on the project together over spring break, as we were across the country from each other for a large part of the break; however, difficulties like this are hard to avoid. Despite this, when we returned from break, we quickly got to work. Because of our commitment to the project and ability to work well as a team, we were able to produce a decent project in the end.

Professor response to Domain entry 5

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Dear Students,

The noodle exhibit was a wonderful event. It not only provided the opportunity for us to study the noodles in detail and depth, but it also allowed us to be creative in our representations of the noodles. Your enthusiasm for researching, cooking, and showcasing the noodles is truly inspiring. We enjoyed reading your entries and were impressed by your reflections on the social and cultural significance of the noodles. Some of you contextualized your noodles in their societal, geographical, and cultural settings. Some of you reflected further upon the ideas that we already explored in class. Some of you included videos, drawings, and photos in your entries to enhance the information. We want to thank you for your thoughtful work!

We noticed that some of you did not complete this entry. We suggest that you check the schedule on Blackboard and turn in your work on time. We also ask you to write your name below the title of your entry.

Sincerely,

Hong and Christine

Domain Entry 5: The Lanzhou Pulled Noodle – Dania Quezada

Jasmine Li and I decided to dedicate our poster board project to the Lanzhou pulled noodle of the city of Lanzhou in Northwest China’s Gansu Province. We specifically decided to focus our research on the Lanzhou beef noodle, for their origin in the Muslim Hui people of China highlight a special aspect of cultural mergence and migration within China that isn’t reflected much in the common knowledge that pertains to China. Our poster board project contains a bit of background information of the Lanzhou noodle’s history. This section of our poster board project also describes the process of making Lanzhou noodles while also noting the distinction in the aggressiveness behind the Lanzhou noodles’ method of creation compared to other recipes. This section is particularly interesting because it provides a possible answer to the question of authenticity surrounding recreations of Lanzhou pulled noodles. In order for the noodles to be considered authentic Lanzhou noodles, the broth must be clear, the chili oil red, the parsley bright green, the radish crisp and white, and finally, the noodles themselves must be nice and yellow. Though I believe that many foods cannot be considered truly authentic unless a person who belongs to the culture from which they originate prepares them, I think that the Lanzhou noodle is a valuable exception because of their history and cultural significance. The section of our poster board project that describes the Lanzhou noodle’s cultural significance is by far my favorite because it analyzes the role that migration within China played on the fusion and mergence of different cultures within the Chinese people themselves. China is one of the largest countries in the world, and contrary to what is typically portrayed in Westernized media, it is home to a rich variety of Chinese peoples who each claim their own distinct culture. To us, the Lanzhou noodle represents the way in which cultures come together, learn from each other, and are thus enriched by their exposure to each other. The Lanzhou noodle served with beef both allowed the Muslim Hui people to participate in noodle appreciation while also adhering to the ban on pork that is present in their religion. The simplicity behind the Lanzhou noodle ensured that it would be adopted by other cultures and adapted to fit their own tastes and needs. Now, the Lanzhou pulled noodle is popular all over China and many other parts of the world. The Lanzhou pulled noodle originated in the Muslim Hui people, but they were quickly adopted by other groups of people who recognized the value in their simplicity and their excellent taste. Thus, in keeping with Chinese tradition of observing the symbolic and spiritual significance of food, I perceive the nature of Lanzhou noodles as being open and receptive to adoption by different groups of people while still retaining its authenticity.

Jasmine Li was a terrific partner to work with on this project. Though I love noodles of every shape, taste, and form, I’m still not yet familiar enough with the Chinese language and culture to be fully comfortable differentiating between them. Thus, I was very glad when Jasmine suggested a simple noodle with a powerful recipe and offered to research on its cultural significance and recipe. After reading what she had to say, I was inspired to do more research on my own that led me into thinking about the nature of the noodles themselves and what they represent for me as an immigrant myself. My family has often adopted many traditionally American dishes and placed a Mexican spin on them to make them our own. For example, after trying Macaroni and Cheese at a restaurant once, we decided that the pasta would taste much better if we replaced the waxy Cheddar with a tomato sauce and a blend of Mexican cheese consisting of Asadero, Queso Fresco, and Requesón. This dish is now a staple in my own family, and we consider it to be our own little slice of cultural mergence just like the Lanzhou noodle can be made in several different ways to fit the tastes of several different people. I’m very thankful for Jasmine’s guidance in the selection of our noodle and the aspects of its history that we chose to research on, and I feel very lucky that I honestly can’t think of something in which we won’t wrong or we should have done something differently. I think we worked very well together because I respected her authority over her thoughts on the cultural significance of the noodle we were researching while she allowed me free reign to exercise my creativity in putting the poster together and synthesizing the information to show that the Lanzhou noodle’s history and cultural significance were all connected.

Manicotti and Middle School (Angela Jiang, CHN 190)

It's too bad I never saved any photos of the crazy projects I did in middle school, but it was nice looking back at my quirky middle school pictures I made with my friends.
It’s too bad I never saved any photos of the crazy projects I did in middle school, but it was nice looking back at my quirky middle school pictures I made with my friends.

I used to thrive on busy work. Upon emerging out alive and actually happy from middle school, I prided myself on my quirkiness, peppiness, and secretlymy self-perceived mastery of creative projects. Intellectual stimulation for me back then was not based on excursions to museums or presents of full-color encyclopedias, but rather my “late night” (middle school late night = 11PM. Horrors!) pursuits for perfecting the middle school projects I was assigned. Over the course of my middle school career, I easily churned out dioramas and miniature models of world wonders such as the Parthenon, Pompeii, and the Hagia Sophia by skulking out into my backyard, meticulously collecting the best river pebbles from a nearby creek and keeping handy a steady supply of dried moss for my creations (I remember once trying to research how to convert my Bermuda grass backyard into having a turf of pure moss. I still wouldn’t mind learning how to do that). I would religiously salvage containers of sturdy shapes and developed the firm mindset that hot glue guns were the Reign Supreme of all adhesives. It was in these projects that I felt like I could be larger than life in an intellectual manner; that I held in my mind this colorful yet undescribable notion of a type of smartness centered around creativity and design. In the midst of such tumultuous social times in middle school, I felt comforted by this notion. Embarking on this project brought me back to such fond memories. Except, this time, the one key difference was that whereas I always called all the shots and pulled the load through for my slovenly fellow group members in middle school, my partner Dominic and I worked like a well-oiled machine. First off, it was simple when we first got to texting about how we wanted to get started on the project: “I asked my family what noodle they would recommend us to work on, and they recommend manicotti.”
I knew I was in for a treat when I saw this text.
I knew I was in for a treat when I saw this text.
I had a Chinese noodle in mind, but I found it exciting to be able to go off on a tangent and explore the Italian noodle culture which I wasn’t so familiar with. It was absolutely refreshing that for once I didn’t have to make all the decisions by myself and to follow a narrative that centered around Dominic’s family, since he’s a 3rd-generation Italian American himself (surprise fact if you didn’t know!). We had different strengths, and I found that different was brilliant: we could do our best on tasks that demanded certain abilities, like how although Dominic is a biology major, he is secretly an English ninja who writes wonderfully and thus compiled and turned our research from facts to narrative. At the same time I regressed to middle school Angie and dreamed up design concepts to give our posterboard character and our dedication to tying our information as much as possible to external pictures and graphics.
Design concept and last panel of our comic strip that discussed the cultural significance of cannelloni/manicotti.
Design concept and last panel of our comic strip that discussed the cultural significance of cannelloni/manicotti.
Sadly, group/partner projects tend to end in making relationships between its workers worsened or improved—but merely in a professional sense. However, the key to why I enjoyed having Dominic as my partner is how we did everything together, and that meant we bonded talking outside of class and became good friends: we took a trek to Emory Point to buy ingredients at Earthfare, we chatted while working in a casual environment like Cox Computing Lab, and we grabbed breakfast at the DUC way early in the morning (seeing all the bleary-eyed 8AM bio students) before cooking together in Raoul’s kitchen. Having a more casual project that employed more “fun” aspects of effort made this one of the most enjoyable projects I have ever worked on, and ultimately more fulfilling since I’ve come here to Emory and have been able to reflect on my growth as a student, co-worker, and creator. And what of the project itself? What did it entail? We started on the trail of discovery by knowing that “manicotti” was more of an Italian-American phenomenon (manicotti is more popular in Brooklyn probably than ever in Naples) but in comparison “cannelloni” is the more formal Italian name. There wasn’t too much cultural information on manicotti or cannelloni separately, but once thrown into comparisons we stumbled upon a few heated debates. Manicotti could only be filled with cheese because it was the lesser of the two, and only cannelloni was noble enough to take on any filling, a native Italian chef argued. Or, how manicotti was generally only made with pure pasta noodles whereas cannelloni originated as a type of crespelle, or a type of Italian crepe cooked on a hot skillet that was rolled up cigarette-style with the filling, instead of filling pasta noodles.
The magical interior of the Ristorante O’Parrucchiano, where the cannelloni noodle was supposedly invented. Today, it is an official historical heritage restaurant of Italy. Nice to see that the origin of cannelloni has been given some justice.
No matter the origin you side with, the noodle itself is a recent phenomenon, invented around the early 20th century in a restaurant in Sorrento and gaining prominence after World War II when Napoleons fled to Sorrento and brought the recipe around the world as they emigrated out of Italy. The final product: the rich immigrant story of a noodle that has journeyed across borders into the hearts of cosmopolitan cities around the world, which we tried to capture within our poster, which had a theme of paths, highlighting the intriguing differences/debates between cannelloni and manicotti: IMG_2697 If you’d like to read the cultural narrative of the cannelloni/manicotti (in comic form!), check out our comic here: 1JXNK_KHK8WS

Reflection on Noodle Poster Project

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Going into the project of making manicotti was an endeavor of culinary tradition. The recipe was something all too familiar with me, as it have flavored up many family gatherings over the years (Events through which I became familiar with it as ‘manigott’, its name in Sicilian dialect). For this assignment, Angela and I began by researching the basics and history of manicotti. It turned out there is not a considerable amount of history, however, because it is a relatively new pasta on the scene. What we did know was that it’s associated with southern Italy/Sicily, but is also considered an Italian-immigrant recipe. Hence it also had a twin name: Canneloni. We also went up to Earth Fare to get the proper supplies for dough, filling, and sauce. We decided to withhold creating it until the morning preceding our Poster Gala. Meanwhile we worked laboriously on our poster, considering neat designs such as a comic strip presentation and figures of ourselves presenting the pasta.

The most enjoyable aspect of the project was definitely cooking. Making a meal is extremely rewarding, especially in the college life wherein such moments are rare. There is no better way to know a meal inside and out than the hands on experience of making it. All the ingredients were brought together, forming a delicious combination of sizzling pasta-pancakes and rich cheese mix– ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella. In the end, we were both proud of our final product; while looking dapper and tasty, we had to hold our tongues until the presentation, where we sampled it ourselves and truly came to know the joy of cuisine.

Just as appreciable is the Italian culture behind the dish. It goes to show that Italy is still a place of growing traditions, as manicotti were only recorded as early as the 1920s. They soon became a hit in the States, likely due in part to their tantalizing cheesiness, lightness, and speed in production. It also portrays the Italian resolve to improve foreign cuisine, their way; the manicotti bear a semblance to pancakes in production, and enchiladas in completion (even to the point where it was commented on by fellow students). It’s possible that there were conscious reshapings in manicotti’s first creation, as in modern times foods like pancakes, enchiladas, and crepes would be well-known. It was a quick moment of ingenuity that brought such a seemingly simple meal together from these elements. In terms of the noodle our project highlighted the looseness of the field. After everything, manicotti look all in all like enlarged tubes of noodle. But we also learned of the journeys food takes. It travels with families overseas and into a new life; sometimes it finds a home. This message was amplified by the works of our classmates: the macaroni presentation surprised me with just how ubiquitous the noodle has become in the entire world. In addition, Naengmyeon fascinated me with its unique taste and properties, and surprised me with its North Korean origin. It’s odd to think how two nations with a history of cutthroat division still couldn’t prevent the crossing over of good food.

The team consisted of Angela and I. We formed a dynamic duo that easily conquered all difficulties faced in the pursuit of manicotti. Angie was immensely helpful and enthusiastic, playing her hand in the poster’s crowd-pleasing design. It was also fortunate that she had family come over with much-needed supplies for making and baking the pasta. I’d go so far as to say nothing went wrong at all; we were able to meet every day leading up to the event, working on content, poster, and the food, respectively.

Noodle Poster Project Reflection (CHN-190, Jimmy Townsend)

My project was focused on the macaroni noodle, looking specifically at its creation, diversity and my personal engagement with the noodle. We looked at how the noodle originated, as barley broth used to commemorate the dead, and how the ingredients in the noodle evolved. From there were looked at the diversity of the noodle and how it changes in different cuisines ranging from American to Italian to Singaporean. With this information, we compared the different basic recipes from an Italian macaroni dish and an American macaroni dish. From this we determined that the symbolic importance of the macaroni noodle is that it is an equalizer in that it can be used as a base in many different cuisines and cultures. One aspect of the project that I found the most rewarding was comparing the recipes for macaroni from an Italian and an American standpoint. The ingredients that went into each recipe were completely different in that the Italian recipe had more vegetables and was much more simple, whereas the American recipe was very heavy and had mainly American ingredients. Even though they shared the same base of macaroni, they varied in very stereotypical ways: the American dish with fatty ingredients whereas the Italian had a lot of vegetables and was simple.

The most important thing that I learned from this project was the asian influence on macaroni. Macaroni almost travelled backwards along the silk road from Italy to Asia, but in modern times. Macaroni, as I stated earlier, is an equalizer in that different cultures can pick the noodle up and use it in their individual cuisine. I found this fact specifically interesting in that different Asian cuisines picked the noodles up and used it in soups as a sort of westernization of their cuisines. This made me ponder the fact that maybe the Italian and Chinese cuisines are actually very similar and maybe even intertwined with each other. The fact that each cuisine integrates the same basic ingredient (macaroni) seamlessly illustrates this point specifically. I’ve learned that each culture is the same but different; I know, a major contradiction, but hear me out. The two cultures differ significantly but they can almost work together with the same ingredient. I find that the ways in which different cultures are integrated with each other is very interesting and macaroni is this connection between the Italian, American and Asian cuisines.

Andrew was my group member. What went well was that we were both very passionate about this project in that we found the different ways different cultures use macaroni very intriguing. In addition we were very surprised by the presence of macaroni in asian cuisines. What didn’t go well was the division of work. It was not entirely even in that I feel I might have done slightly more work and I put the poster together by myself. This didn’t hinder our interest in this project and this noodle, though. I do feel, though, that if we worked evenly, we could have developed and organized the poster board in a better way. I also wish that we could have cooked a better sample of food, but we had limited resources and time.