In NPR’s podcast, The Chef Who Couldn’t Taste, hosted by Terry Gross, Chef Achatz says something to the extent of “eating a meal, picking up your fork and eating from a plate or bowl with the same motion every time can be monotonous. But when the monotony can be broken down, and you take notice of the moment, think about the food, and how it makes you feel a certain way, then you’ve won." This notion of breaking down the monotony and taking in the moment is why I love noodles so much.
Summer, 2017: My friends and I had gathered one night for dinner together. I was more or less the head chef, given the tasks of making garlic bread and spaghetti and meat sauce.
Midori Tanada's Food Story
Memories Through Noodles
My friends set the table. My friend’s dog started barking. As my friends did their part, I kept slicing the garlic bread, but only to get annoyed that the dog was still barking. As I sliced with my right hand, holding the bread with my left, I turned to yell at the dog and sliced into my left index finger.
When the weather is warm like that night, or I’m eating spaghetti with meat sauce, I’m taken back to that summer night with my friends. The scar on my finger also reminds me of that night.
Winter break, 2018: A friend picked me up for dinner, drove us to an Italian restaurant, and I immediately realized what kind of dinner this was. Feeling a bit adventurous, I ordered a dish that my friend had suggested. It was a pasta dish of spiral noodles with a creamy sauce, topped with chicken meatballs and local canned peppers. I savored every bite. It was the best pasta I had ever eaten. As the dinner came to an end, I started to become worried about what would happen next, so I anxiously flipped my hair behind my ear… but my hair caught on a new ear piercing, ripped it straight out, and blood gushed down my arm. The dinner pretty much ended after that.
Though I probably scarred my friend for the rest of his life, he left an impression on me as well. Breaking the monotony of ordering your go-to, your anticipated pleasure, and adding the novel experience is what my friend had left me with that night. And another scar!
Summer, 2020: I went on a socially distanced picnic date, starring pad thai. I’ll spare the cutesy details and say it was the best date. Afterward, I thought, “If I had not suggested that we get Thai food, would this have been such a great night? Pad thai brought this all together!” And so, my love for noodles goes far beyond its shape or texture or the endless possibilities of flavors you could pair them with. My love for noodles coexists with the fond memories I associate with them.
Pad Thai Recipe