Long Life Noodles
Eating long life noodles on my birthday or for someone else’s birthday is probably one of my favorite Chinese traditions. No matter where I am or what I’m doing on my birthday, I have to have my long life noodles. It doesn’t matter if it’s Chinese noodles, Japanese, Thai, or Italian—I just have to have long noodles. Otherwise, I get superstitious about it and I feel like I’m going to have bad luck for the year. I also eat long life noodles on the birthdays of my loved ones, even if I’m not with them. It’s my way of celebrating them, and wishing them a long life and good health.
But my favorite noodles to have on my birthday, is zha jiang mian…
When I was little, I remember my mom always making zha jiang mian for my birthday, so I’ve always associated it with being birthday noodles. But really, you can have any long noodles on your birthday. For my husband's birthday I ordered his favorite dish--pasta carbonara.
Zha jiang mian literally translates to “fried sauce noodles.” It’s a northern Chinese dish made with a fermented soybean paste stir-fried with meat. Typically it's topped with vegetables like cucumber and radish. My mom always includes bean sprouts, shredded cucumber and carrots, and thinly sliced omelet. In the north, larger noodles are usually used and the dish is dryer; whereas, other areas may make a more watery sauce. My mom typically makes the sauce more watery, and she says that's Taiwan style. My dad's a northerner so he makes it Beijing-style. I love the noodles both ways.
Long life noodles aren't reserved only for birthdays though. You can have them at any important celebration. But when your birthday rolls around this year, I'll eat some noodles for you ;)
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