Hot Best Seller

On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta

Availability: Ready to download

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. Feasting her way through an Italian honeymoon, 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 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. Feasting her way through an Italian honeymoon, 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.


Compare

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. Feasting her way through an Italian honeymoon, 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 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. Feasting her way through an Italian honeymoon, 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.

30 review for On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    3.5 stars, bumping it up to 4 largely out of spite, because wow, there are so many negative reviews of a very particular kind. A lot of folks don't like how often the author talks about her marriage. Or the fact that she spends a lot of time describing her struggles with her identity (as a woman, as a wife, as a Chinese-American living in China). Most of the top reviews here use the word "whining." And I don't think it's a coincidence that this is the third book I've read in a row by an 3.5 stars, bumping it up to 4 largely out of spite, because wow, there are so many negative reviews of a very particular kind. A lot of folks don't like how often the author talks about her marriage. Or the fact that she spends a lot of time describing her struggles with her identity (as a woman, as a wife, as a Chinese-American living in China). Most of the top reviews here use the word "whining." And I don't think it's a coincidence that this is the third book I've read in a row by an Asian-American female journalist about her life abroad (after Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris and Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite) that inspired the same criticism. I get it, it's a matter of taste how much we want the author to insert themselves in a nonfiction narrative, and I usually fall on the side of the more the better - I want to hear how the story got made, about the travel logistics and translation pitfalls, how the author met their subjects and got words of wisdom out of them for the book. I don't want the author to pretend they're a totally neutral party, coming in without their own individual and cultural lens on the subject. Maybe other folks just don't like that and prefer the story without the meta-story, and that's fine. But I'm not sure how you expect an author to separate those aspects of an Asian culinary travelogue from her identity as a woman or as Chinese-American or, in this case, as a wife. She points it out herself near the beginning: she hears constant questions about the whereabouts of her husband throughout the journey, something missing from the writings of her favorite male travel authors. She travels through parts of the world with extremely rigid gender roles and is welcomed into the women's realm by virtue of her gender, and into the men's by virtue of her nationality and profession. She gets questions about her nationality and ethnicity - are you one of us or one of them? - along the journey, ones her white husband doesn't have to contend with. And her subject is food. In particular, everyday cooking by families and restaurateurs, versus advanced gourmet stuff. Some of the parts I found particularly fascinating were her conversations in different countries about whose job cooking is at home versus in the workplace. And how traditions get passed down, which have been left behind, what hospitality looks like along the Silk Road. If you take gender roles and family roles out of that conversation, well, you're left with a list of tasty things, and how they were cooked and eaten. Point being, this author doesn't have a neutral (read, white male) point of view, and in my opinion the book is better for it. Sure, the jokes fall flat sometimes, the transitions between talking about her subjects and herself aren't always smooth, but I hate seeing these totally legitimate worries about how one's individual identity, career path, independence, and love of cooking will change in the transition from woman to wife dismissed as "whining." Is her life more full of possibilities and her resume more interesting than most of ours? Yeah, but...what international food writer's isn't? (In contrast, see In Search of the Perfect Loaf: A Home Baker's Odyssey - a similar read in a lot of ways, but not a single word in the reviews about how privileged this writer must be to be paid to follow a passion, and why must he talk so much about his amazing family and home kitchen...) Yes, this is more of a rant than a review at this point. I enjoyed the book. I especially liked seeing the gradual cultural and culinary changes as the narrative moved slowly west - ingredients and methods disappear and reappear, attitudes towards food and cooking and hospitality change sometimes slowly, sometimes jarringly. Interpretations of American food - especially fast food - pop up here and there with their own weird significance to the local culture. The history of the noodle itself is a little too lost to history to satisfy a reader who's here for answers to the book's driving questions, but I recommend it if you enjoy reading about the experience of traveling and eating. Unless you can't eat gluten - in that case, stay far away.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Larissa

    I really wanted to like this. It combines two things I love: food writing and travel writing. Unfortunately it also including a fair amount of navel gazing on the author's part. - oh, marriage, what are you and what do you mean to me and to my career? oh, what is a wife? How can I be a wife and have a fabulous career as an author who gets to travel the world and eat? Maybe that last one is not fair, but it is the one that finally made me put the book down. Perhaps if I had finished I would find I really wanted to like this. It combines two things I love: food writing and travel writing. Unfortunately it also including a fair amount of navel gazing on the author's part. - oh, marriage, what are you and what do you mean to me and to my career? oh, what is a wife? How can I be a wife and have a fabulous career as an author who gets to travel the world and eat? Maybe that last one is not fair, but it is the one that finally made me put the book down. Perhaps if I had finished I would find that she had reconciled herself to marriage, and perhaps now even sees how a good marriage can make a good life even better. I just couldn't take it anymore. I officially gave up.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    It's hard to say whether I liked this book. I found Jen Lin-Liu, the memoirist, incredibly annoying, what with her constant angst about whether being married was going to crimp her style, require something of her (like basic consideration for her husband), or affect her independence. Anyone who is married is going to tell you that marriage does do all that, but that is kind of the point of it. I was also relatively unclear about what caused her to undertake the trip she records in the first It's hard to say whether I liked this book. I found Jen Lin-Liu, the memoirist, incredibly annoying, what with her constant angst about whether being married was going to crimp her style, require something of her (like basic consideration for her husband), or affect her independence. Anyone who is married is going to tell you that marriage does do all that, but that is kind of the point of it. I was also relatively unclear about what caused her to undertake the trip she records in the first place -- she says that she wants to travel the Silk Road to try to find the origin of noodles but it seemed to me that a lot of her impetus was the desire to get time to think about her identity. Nonetheless, On the Noodle Road is a fairly compelling read. Lin-Liu's trip was epic, mostly by land, and full of descriptions of parts of the world with which I am not familiar (Western China, Central Asia, Iran, Turkey). For that alone I would recommend the book. She meets some really interesting characters and is an astute observer of social mores and conventions. She also describes food in ways that make you want to try what she is eating and gives recipes.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    I really wanted to give this book a higher rating because it combined my love of history and love of food but I couldn't get past the author. She came across as a "woe is me" writer who spent a good portion of the book questioning her relationship with her husband and complaining about how she was suppose to balance her life as a traveling food author, food school owner with her marriage.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alex Givant

    Excellent food travelogue from China to Italy in search of roots of noodle.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    Warning: Don't read this book on an empty stomach, or if you're on Atkins, because you'll be craving carbohydrates and your stomach will probably be growling throughout the entire book. Jen Lin-Liu was a journalist, food writer, and owner of a cooking school in Beijing. While on her honeymoon in Italy, as she marveled over the culinary delights she and her husband enjoyed, she started wondering about pasta. (And who wouldn't?) More specifically, she started wondering about pasta's provenance, Warning: Don't read this book on an empty stomach, or if you're on Atkins, because you'll be craving carbohydrates and your stomach will probably be growling throughout the entire book. Jen Lin-Liu was a journalist, food writer, and owner of a cooking school in Beijing. While on her honeymoon in Italy, as she marveled over the culinary delights she and her husband enjoyed, she started wondering about pasta. (And who wouldn't?) More specifically, she started wondering about pasta's provenance, given its popularity in so many different cultures. Who invented the noodle? Was it, as legend and history have said, Marco Polo, who brought the noodle back to Italy from China during his global explorations? Or were mentions of noodle-like substances in the Talmud and Etruscan history, or supposed discoveries of ancient noodles evidence that pasta was enjoyed even earlier in history? Lin-Liu decided to set out on a culinary journey along the Silk Road to discover the origins of pasta. Her journey takes her through small villages in China and Tibet, Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan), Iran, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. She spends time in cooking schools, restaurants, tourist attractions, and even people's homes, learning secrets of rice, pasta, and dumpling dishes the world over, and marveling at their differences and their similarities with the food her cooking school teaches people about in China. But more than that, as she spends time with professional chefs and home cooks, wives and mothers, men and women, she learns a great deal about different cultures and how they view the role of women versus men, as well as the role of food in each of these societies. At the same time, Lin-Liu, a newlywed, is forced to confront her own issues with her marriage. Spending most of her journey on her own, with her journalist husband elsewhere, she wonders whether this trip was good for her marriage, and what role she should play in their relationship after her travels. With food such a central part of her life, but not nearly such an obsession for her husband, are they doomed to fail? Lin-Liu cites two points raised by food historian Charles Perry, which illustrated some of what she learned in her travels. "If a people eat much of a dish, this does not mean that they have eaten it forever, [and] if a people eat little of a dish...it does not follow that they never ate much of it." As a huge pasta, noodle, and dumpling lover, I enjoyed reading about Lin-Liu's experiences, and the incredible (and sometimes nauseating) food she was able to eat and cook during her travels. But after a while, I stopped caring about the purpose of her mission (the issue of provenance seems to come and go throughout the book) and just focused on her conversations and her discoveries. She's an excellent writer and describes the things she ate and saw with terrific detail. But if anything, the weak link in the book is Lin-Liu herself. She is fairly unflinching in writing about her own issues with her marriage and her role as a woman, which doesn't quite endear her to the reader. And when she recounts certain exchanges with her husband you definitely sympathize with him, not her. It takes a lot to write about yourself in an unflattering way. This is a fascinating book, and the recipes that Lin-Liu includes are well worth the price. If you've ever dreamed of going on a worldwide food journey, but don't think it's something you can afford (financially or weight-wise), live vicariously through Jen Lin-Liu. You'll enjoy yourself, and be super hungry.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John

    Really 3.5 stars I suppose, but three would feel a bit ... unfair. I wasn't sure I'd be able to get into the book at first, but the Chinese section proved interesting enough that I decided to plunge ahead to the end; the strength of that part lay in Jen's depiction of several various regions of the wheat-based northern part of the country, rather than concentrating on the Han northeast, each seeming a bit more "western" as she heads west. I didn't feel she really enjoyed Central Asia, or Iran for Really 3.5 stars I suppose, but three would feel a bit ... unfair. I wasn't sure I'd be able to get into the book at first, but the Chinese section proved interesting enough that I decided to plunge ahead to the end; the strength of that part lay in Jen's depiction of several various regions of the wheat-based northern part of the country, rather than concentrating on the Han northeast, each seeming a bit more "western" as she heads west. I didn't feel she really enjoyed Central Asia, or Iran for that matter, on the whole; perhaps because they weren't particularly noodle-based, to the extent that she had to outright hunt down the appearance of any noodles in Iran at all that weren't dry, pre-packaged ones. Still, the lives of families she befriended in those places made her time in the regions an enjoyable travel narrative. I found Turkey the strongest read (along with China), correlating with my own experiences there, and writings of the parts of the country I haven't visited. Highly subjective I realize, but Italy seemed largely an anti-climatic coasting (if you will) to the end, where she concludes that pasta developed separately in the east and west, rather being specifically "spread" from one end of the route to the other. As a pet peeve, she confuses Sunni's and Shia's in the Iran section, causing me to slam down the book, cursing an "editor" who could collect a salary while letting that through. Book could've been a more solid four, if not a five, had I not been so consciously aware of what overachievers she and her husband appear to be. Not that such is bad in and of itself, but I had a tough time relating to her because of it. Perhaps a different way of putting it would be that she seemed slightly ... peeved when things weren't working out exactly as she'd expected. Recommended, though I can understand why other reviewers felt it was dry (or "off") in places. It's quite well-written, and though I truly admire that our British friends have a strong tradition of travel writing, I appreciated it that the cultural references here are American.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    As a pasta fanatic since I was old enough to quit eating strained peas, the title of this book grabbed me by the stomach and never let go. Author Jen Lin-Liu decided to travel the Silk Road in search of the history of noodles. Along the way, she is welcomed into the kitchens of many, many women who open up in the privacy of their own kitchens to not only teach her about how they make and use noodles, but enlighten her about their lives, hopes, and dreams along the way. Jen Lin-Liu knows of what As a pasta fanatic since I was old enough to quit eating strained peas, the title of this book grabbed me by the stomach and never let go. Author Jen Lin-Liu decided to travel the Silk Road in search of the history of noodles. Along the way, she is welcomed into the kitchens of many, many women who open up in the privacy of their own kitchens to not only teach her about how they make and use noodles, but enlighten her about their lives, hopes, and dreams along the way. Jen Lin-Liu knows of what she speaks as an owner of a cooking school in Beijing. On her honeymoon in Italy, she and her new husband went on a culinary adventure that really got her thinking about pasta and noodles. I'm Italian and I can tell you I obsess about pasta every single day :D so I understand this completely. The true origins of pasta and noodles are rooted in many stories - mainly that Marco Polo brought the noodle to Italy after his adventures in China. But is that true? Where did pasta really originate? And what about ancient noodles that have been discovered the predate all of that? Like noodles? Read this book. Like Italian food? Read this book. Like to eat in general? Read this book. What about travel - do you like travel? Read this book. Fascinated by other cultures? You know ... read this book. Just read it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jaylia3

    Combining travelogue, history, cultural investigation, food diary, recipes, and memoir, On the Noodle Road is a layered treat of a book. Journalist and cooking school founder Jen Lin-Liu was inspired to travel the ancient Silk Road route from Beijing to Rome after being struck by similarities between Chinese and Italian pasta dishes. Common wisdom holds that Marco Polo brought the noodle from China back to Italy, but the evidence is shaky. Lin-Liu decided to investigate cooking styles along the Combining travelogue, history, cultural investigation, food diary, recipes, and memoir, On the Noodle Road is a layered treat of a book. Journalist and cooking school founder Jen Lin-Liu was inspired to travel the ancient Silk Road route from Beijing to Rome after being struck by similarities between Chinese and Italian pasta dishes. Common wisdom holds that Marco Polo brought the noodle from China back to Italy, but the evidence is shaky. Lin-Liu decided to investigate cooking styles along the Silk Road to see what she could learn about the long history of noodle cuisine. Traveling sometimes with her new husband, sometimes alone, Lin-Liu visits and shares food preparations in home kitchens and restaurants, often in places far off the beaten path. She journeyed through Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and the culturally distinct western provinces of China, including the disputed territory of Tibet. Cooking together turned out to be an interesting and intimate way to get to know people, especially the women she meets, and reading about her experiences is fascinating. Lin-Liu writes candidly about their lives, cultures, and family dynamics--and about how what she sees impacts her struggles to balance or blend the fiercely independent woman she always has been with her new married life. If your experience is like mine, On the Noodle Road will make you want to take a food adventure yourself, but at least you'll be craving finely cooked meals made from scratch with fresh local produce, not junk food. Recipes are included in the book and more are on Lin-Liu website.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    Honestly, this book could have been so much better than it was. I love food, I love travel, but this gal.....I simply couldn't stand her. Not only did I think her writing was lackluster, but her tone INFURIATED ME. She sounded so ungrateful and judgey for most of the trip and I just kept thinking "My God, you're doing something people only dream about." I get it, she's technically a food critic, but she was so snobby and condescending. Also she made stupid statements like "a panther shot in Honestly, this book could have been so much better than it was. I love food, I love travel, but this gal.....I simply couldn't stand her. Not only did I think her writing was lackluster, but her tone INFURIATED ME. She sounded so ungrateful and judgey for most of the trip and I just kept thinking "My God, you're doing something people only dream about." I get it, she's technically a food critic, but she was so snobby and condescending. Also she made stupid statements like "a panther shot in Africa"....there are no panthers in Africa... I gave the book two stars because I like the themes (the progression of noodle literally and figuratively, and how women fit in to cooking traditions) but I felt the noodle focus was wrapped up entirely too nicely in a page, and the comments about women and how they are linked to food was accidental. Overall, very disappointing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Like an undercooked noodle, this book lacks substance. The author tried to write a book about food and cooking as well as a travelogue, and succeeded at neither. Had she met either goal well, we would have a very different reading experience. Unfortunately, my experience with this book is diluted by the failure of the author to achieve her goals. Almost immediately, I knew I was in trouble when I read the third sentence in the book, "'That's like making me choose my favorite family member!' she Like an undercooked noodle, this book lacks substance. The author tried to write a book about food and cooking as well as a travelogue, and succeeded at neither. Had she met either goal well, we would have a very different reading experience. Unfortunately, my experience with this book is diluted by the failure of the author to achieve her goals. Almost immediately, I knew I was in trouble when I read the third sentence in the book, "'That's like making me choose my favorite family member!' she balked." I had to wonder if there was an editor involved in this book. Not a good sign. The writing did not get better. On the same page as the above sentence, the author unexpectedly touts King Arthur's flour and her own website - I'm not sure why I found this so off-putting, maybe it shouldn’t have a place in a book like this. Perhaps I wasn't expecting her to so blatantly endorse products. I heard about the book on NPR, and it sounded very interesting. As I opened the book, I had high hopes as I love pasta of every ilk whether it is Chinese dumplings or fettuccine in a garlic butter sauce, but I just couldn't find the love for this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bob Schnell

    "On the Noodle Road" is a travelogue of the Silk Road with a little too much personal introspection and not quite enough noodles. To be sure, there are sufficient recipes and descriptions of meals I will never experience. However there is too much repetition and not enough depth to the food cultures Jen Lin-Liu is trying to describe. Perhaps I am spoiled by Bourdain and Zimmerman, but how often does the author have to describe the ubiquity of yogurt or the pounding and rolling of pasta dough? "On the Noodle Road" is a travelogue of the Silk Road with a little too much personal introspection and not quite enough noodles. To be sure, there are sufficient recipes and descriptions of meals I will never experience. However there is too much repetition and not enough depth to the food cultures Jen Lin-Liu is trying to describe. Perhaps I am spoiled by Bourdain and Zimmerman, but how often does the author have to describe the ubiquity of yogurt or the pounding and rolling of pasta dough? Her personal journey of discovery regarding her marriage and lack of career vs. family direction also begin to grate early on (at least she doesn't whine too much about her ticking biological clock). On a positive note, she does bring to light some local dishes (not all pasta related) and cultural observations that make the book worthwhile.

  13. 4 out of 5

    PorshaJo

    It was OK for me. After awhile, the descriptions seemed to go on forever and I thought that she talked too much about her marriage. Perhaps it was not the right time for me to read this book. I love food and travel, but just read another travel book recently. Perhaps I needed a non-travel book in between this one. I'm still going to take a look at her first book and give it a shot.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ruthie

    The second book by Jen Lin-Liu takes us along the ancient Silk Road as she attempts to discover the origin and path of pasta/noodles. The author is married now, has opened a cooking school in Beijing and spends part of her time in the US for her husband's career/education. She is struggling with being newly married and no longer independent, able to travel, or not, as she pleases. Her travels takes her through a culinary and cultural journey that is as much about societal issues and politics as The second book by Jen Lin-Liu takes us along the ancient Silk Road as she attempts to discover the origin and path of pasta/noodles. The author is married now, has opened a cooking school in Beijing and spends part of her time in the US for her husband's career/education. She is struggling with being newly married and no longer independent, able to travel, or not, as she pleases. Her travels takes her through a culinary and cultural journey that is as much about societal issues and politics as it about food. It is the food that really kept me reading, even though I am a vegetarian and much of what she eats and cooks would not work for me, the writing is so good that I was seriously tempted to make an exception for some of her dishes.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    The author is a Chinese-American, raised in California and who now owns a cooking school in Beijing. While at a dinner in Italy, she began to wonder about the "age-old question" on the origin of noodles. Did Marco Polo really introduce the noodle from China to Italy? This work is a little cultural anthropology, a little cooking skills, a little travel guide, a little meditation on the role of women and feminism. It is a delightful, eclectic mix of all of the above. At the time of her trip, she The author is a Chinese-American, raised in California and who now owns a cooking school in Beijing. While at a dinner in Italy, she began to wonder about the "age-old question" on the origin of noodles. Did Marco Polo really introduce the noodle from China to Italy? This work is a little cultural anthropology, a little cooking skills, a little travel guide, a little meditation on the role of women and feminism. It is a delightful, eclectic mix of all of the above. At the time of her trip, she had recently married, and that is part of the rumination on the role of women in society and feminism. Her trip was by surface transportation (for the most part - there was one hiatus where she flew back to Beijing, and then flew back to where she left off). Some of the trip is by train and car, but she also did some hiking, and some of the penultimate legs were by boat (ferry). Her trip took her across China, through several of the "-stans" into Iran and Turkey, and then to Greece and Italy. I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of this book. Especially at home, food is the province of women. In some of the countries she visited the role of women is strictly circumscribed. There are many societal implications. Several of the people she cooked with and learned from are women who do it because it is expected, not because they enjoy it. (I find that sad, but then again, I like to cook.) I gained insight that I did not expect about several of the areas she visited. I did not cook any of the recipes, and even though I usually give away ARCs when I get them, I will keep this one for a bit to try some of the recipes.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    Jen Lin-Liu, a Chinese-American journalist, took a cooking class in Rome, and began wondering how noodles had originated. It has been disproven that Marco Polo brought them along the Silk Road from China but how had they ended up in Italy? She decides to make the journey herself to try to find out. She tastes and cooks her way westward through China, Central Asia, Iran, Turkey and finally Italy, meeting many fascinating people and cultures. Along the way she also wrestles with being newly-married Jen Lin-Liu, a Chinese-American journalist, took a cooking class in Rome, and began wondering how noodles had originated. It has been disproven that Marco Polo brought them along the Silk Road from China but how had they ended up in Italy? She decides to make the journey herself to try to find out. She tastes and cooks her way westward through China, Central Asia, Iran, Turkey and finally Italy, meeting many fascinating people and cultures. Along the way she also wrestles with being newly-married and wonders how that will affect her career, her sense of independence and her own identity. Should she travel behind her husband as he pursues his career or continue to go off on her own pursuits? She observes how women are treated in many other cultures, some little more than slaves to their families, and realizes how lucky Western women are. I found this book is best read slowly, section by section, and savored. It has a tendency to bog down in what can't help but seem to be a series of long, repetitive journeys otherwise. Each section ends with recipes for food she has learned to make; some sound well worth trying.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    Almost 400 pages about noodles got to be a bit much, but this book is still an enjoyable trip across a large part of the world. The author's strident feminism is somewhat blatant at times but can be forgiven, but I am glad I am not married to her and I am sure the feeling is returned! I no longer eat wheat/other grain products but enjoyed the read nevertheless. From Amazon: Feasting her way through an Italian honeymoon, Jen Lin-Liu was struck by culinary echoes of the delicacies she ate and Almost 400 pages about noodles got to be a bit much, but this book is still an enjoyable trip across a large part of the world. The author's strident feminism is somewhat blatant at times but can be forgiven, but I am glad I am not married to her and I am sure the feeling is returned! I no longer eat wheat/other grain products but enjoyed the read nevertheless. From Amazon: Feasting her way through an Italian honeymoon, 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.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Things I expected and welcomed: intersections among gender, culture, identity (to include the author's own as a Chinese-American) and how it all related to the food being researched. Things I did not expect and definitely did not welcome: The constant, and I mean constant, self-pitying over her (at the time recent) marriage. The back-and-forth over whether or not she would lose all sense of autonomy should her and her seemingly eternally-patient husband *gasp* became business partners got old Things I expected and welcomed: intersections among gender, culture, identity (to include the author's own as a Chinese-American) and how it all related to the food being researched. Things I did not expect and definitely did not welcome: The constant, and I mean constant, self-pitying over her (at the time recent) marriage. The back-and-forth over whether or not she would lose all sense of autonomy should her and her seemingly eternally-patient husband *gasp* became business partners got old real fast (I almost put the book down forever at the part where she asked a couple running a restaurant in Italy how they felt about being in business together and was incredulous that they were actually HAPPY), especially the parts where she hypocritically balked at his pivoting career choices. I'm not necessarily against the inclusion of her internal dialogue, and I will say that it DID evolve over the course of the book, but the journey to get to the end was torturous for me as the reader (and by that I mean she went from "marrying will hold me back from my independent adventures!" to "Wait, he's getting used to me being gone?! DOESN'T HE MISS ME?!?"). I have a feeling this internal struggle and its tie-ins with the overall dialogue about gender identities per region could've been properly executed by a better, less annoying and less smug writer. The best parts of the book were the conversations had with the locals of each region and of course, the recipes that were included at the end of each section. I hope to make the same trip to at least a couple of these places one day and if I'm fortunate enough to be treated to plov (pilaf) as the honored guest more than a couple times, I promise I won't complain.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    While there were wonderful descriptions of food and ultimately a follow-through on the author's inner journey, which was not just to follow the Silk Road to discover the origin of noodles but rather to travel through these unknown spaces to discover the origin of herself, I was bored. Coleen Marlo didn't make me want to continue to listen. She didn't enliven the food or make it sound yummy. She read it. She didn't bring Jen alive even though a lot of Jen's insecurities were there. Nor did she While there were wonderful descriptions of food and ultimately a follow-through on the author's inner journey, which was not just to follow the Silk Road to discover the origin of noodles but rather to travel through these unknown spaces to discover the origin of herself, I was bored. Coleen Marlo didn't make me want to continue to listen. She didn't enliven the food or make it sound yummy. She read it. She didn't bring Jen alive even though a lot of Jen's insecurities were there. Nor did she give Jen's voice any political slant when she discussed the oppression of women in Turkmekistan. (Forgive the spelling.) Even though it was there in her words. We got some of her weariness of the same meals day after day but not necessarily her joy in cooking them. And though Lin-Liu tried to recreate the real live characters she met, she rarely succeeded, even with her husband who got lost in the shadows because he wasn't a foodie. There were some interesting people that she spent time with and she had some fascinating adventures but it took a long time to get to the point where she learned something.

  20. 4 out of 5

    typewriterdeluxe

    I was eager to start On the Noodle Road, but this audiobook version is awful! Coleen Marlo's pronunciation of Mandarin and Italian words is amazing, but her narration style is not. Her pacing is strange (rushed in some parts and dragging in others for seemingly no reason) and her tone is so infuriatingly pretentious that I couldn't make it past the second disc. I would had dropped this book entirely if it hadn't been recommended to me by someone who thought I would love it. Curious to find out I was eager to start On the Noodle Road, but this audiobook version is awful! Coleen Marlo's pronunciation of Mandarin and Italian words is amazing, but her narration style is not. Her pacing is strange (rushed in some parts and dragging in others for seemingly no reason) and her tone is so infuriatingly pretentious that I couldn't make it past the second disc. I would had dropped this book entirely if it hadn't been recommended to me by someone who thought I would love it. Curious to find out if it was the author's writing style or the narration (or both) grating on my nerves, I looked up Jen Lin-Liu on YouTube and listened to a presentation she had given. I was shocked to find that she was not at all how I had expected her to be (or how Coleen Marlo had made her sound). In fact, I found her very likable and I was eager to hear what she had to share. I'm going to scrub my ears and read this in paperback.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Calley

    A travelogue with waaaaay too much focus on the author's personal experiences and internal dialogue, and not remotely enough context or research about the places she's travelling through. For example, the amount of angst expressed about whether to bring her husband along on the trip, how this would affect their marriage, what the implications would be if he came or didn't, then when he was on the trip how it was going... enough already! When it wasn't her internal monologue, the book was still A travelogue with waaaaay too much focus on the author's personal experiences and internal dialogue, and not remotely enough context or research about the places she's travelling through. For example, the amount of angst expressed about whether to bring her husband along on the trip, how this would affect their marriage, what the implications would be if he came or didn't, then when he was on the trip how it was going... enough already! When it wasn't her internal monologue, the book was still too narrowly focused on the specific experiences of people she met there, with not enough of the broader picture about the culture, history, economy, politics, etc etc. Not remotely in the same league as, say, Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson, or Peter Hessler.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I'd expected to learn about noodles as they relate to agriculture, climate, and culture from China through the Silk Road to Italy. Instead it is part travel log and part memoir and doesn't work as either. The author sets aside what she says experts have written and uses her own anecdotes to determine how certain foods are linked among different regions. It isn't much about noodles since she didn't mention them in the Iran part until the last quarter of the section. She even said that noodles I'd expected to learn about noodles as they relate to agriculture, climate, and culture from China through the Silk Road to Italy. Instead it is part travel log and part memoir and doesn't work as either. The author sets aside what she says experts have written and uses her own anecdotes to determine how certain foods are linked among different regions. It isn't much about noodles since she didn't mention them in the Iran part until the last quarter of the section. She even said that noodles aren't a part of Turkish cuisine as she experienced it. So her entire premise of noodles traded along the Silk Road was negated. The book deal should have even as well.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    I really wanted to like this book, and honestly, what's not to like? It traces noodle cuisine along the Silk Road. How fun! I think it's the narrator who did me in. Weirdly artificial voice at times, generally annoying all the time. I didn't want to listen, but...I wanted to learn about the origin of noodles--from west to east or east to west. I could have listened to the first and last chapters and skipped the interminable middle. As I've confessed before, I don't much like memoirs, so I might I really wanted to like this book, and honestly, what's not to like? It traces noodle cuisine along the Silk Road. How fun! I think it's the narrator who did me in. Weirdly artificial voice at times, generally annoying all the time. I didn't want to listen, but...I wanted to learn about the origin of noodles--from west to east or east to west. I could have listened to the first and last chapters and skipped the interminable middle. As I've confessed before, I don't much like memoirs, so I might have liked this better had there been less of Jen and more about food. An interesting mix of travelogue, food, and autobiography, but try the book instead.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    I'm not one to read travelogues or food books, but I was given this after I returned from a trip from Iran to China. I enjoyed my trip a lot more than the author did. The author alternates between pompous and anxious. It reads like a hastily assembled magazine article, interminably stretched to boring point. I didn't finish this book. I usually finish books but this hadn't improved by half way through and it was annoying me so I gave up.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marianne Morris

    I may not be enough of a food lover to really appreciate this book. But while I found the descriptions of food sort of boring since I don't cook, I was interested in the cultural aspects of the book. The author - sometimes accompanied by her husband, sometimes not - traveled along the Silk Road through many exotic and often dangerous countries and regions. And along the way she learned that no matter what, human beings just enjoy a good meal. Which I can relate to.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Gans

    The editor of this book apparently hates the author. That's all one can conclude from this mess of a book. I was excited about discovering the history of the noodle. Instead, this is a lengthy homage to sheep, lots of personal judgments and unsubstantiated claims, and a sad story about someone's less than ideal marriage. See other reviews for details.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Juanita

    The actual story was quite dull, but the recipes included are simply worth the purchase of the book. It is a story about a trip of a newlywed through China, Iran, Turkey, and eventually Italy examining the similarities and differences of each areas noodles. That part of the story is pretty intact, but I feel that there is much more. It was a glorified travel novel that was not that interesting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I enjoyed the book, I'm not sure if it answered the questions it set out to answer, but it offered a peek into a lot of places with which I have no familiarity and that made it worth reading. But If I ever get the chance to travel as extensively as this author, I promise not to sound as jaded and world weary as she does at times.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ricky

    Ugh. I was hoping for some actual history and maybe science about noodles. I got nothing. This book is just an edited travel journal, with the occasional “the word for noodles in X languages is similar to the word in Y language..is that related???!” Alongside lots of boring feelings about the author being a wife now, and very judgmental commentary on women and their clothing in other countries.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ang

    More of a travelogue than a food book, but enjoyable nonetheless. I now desperately long to A) go back to Italy and B) check Turkey out, especially Istanbul. Also, frankly, I could have done without the musings on the meaning of being a wife and the crap about husband/wife businesses. It just didn't fit in this book about travelling and eating noodles.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.