Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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

I liked Lin-Liu's Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China about how she learned to cook in China. She's thoughtful and a great writer.

On the Noodle Road is her second book, and I found it to be less successful. Lin-Liu has started a Beijing cooking school and is now married. She wants to figure out the origin of the noodle. Did it come from China? Or Italy? She decides to follow the Silk Road from China into Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, and ends up in Italy.

Lin-Liu's conversations with women and the descriptions of some of the meals were interesting. However, some of the descriptions were too long and boring and I found myself skimming some pages, especially as the book went on and on and on through its 400 pages.

My biggest complaint about the book is that the "love" part did not work. Lin-Liu tries to make this book into both food writing and memoir, but it just didn't work. Lin-Liu's husband joins her on some legs of the trip so she writes about their travels together. In other chapters, she reflects on their courtship, relationship, and future, but it was just a tie-in that really did not work at all.

Not gonna recommend this one to you, but I will encourage you to read Serve the People if you're looking for something about cooking Chinese food.

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