Friday, February 24, 2017

Dare you to use only your hands.

Yesterday I learned to make noodles. I learned a new way to cook that has come full circle. I was raised in a kitchen where the microwave was a new incredible time saving device. Everyone was jazzed up and excited about being about to cook a whole chicken in a quarter of the time it took to cook the chicken in a conventional oven.

My mom had a massive microwave! You could cook a huge turkey in it! She bought special plastic cooking devices that assisted in the cooking with this new faster invisible fire.

We live in a new faster invisible fire world. Everything is rushed about. Or that is what I thought, until yesterday. I have a friend who was born in China. We teach swimming together and when she discovered my love for noodle soup she asked if I wanted to learn how to make the noodle by hand.

I was thrilled! 

The ingredients could not have been simpler. Wheat flour, salt and water. The process takes time. There is a kneading process that requires resting for 30 minutes between each kneading. The noodle dough has to be kneaded 4 times.

When Carissa was showing me how to add the water, small amounts into the flour and salt, she told me to move my hand in a circular mixing swirl. The direction of the hand must be the same. The way she mixed the dough, the careful way she pour small amounts of water, her strong hands mixing the flour into dough was exquisite.

There is a beauty in slowing down and using the hands instead of a machine. The kneading of the noodle dough is similar to kneading clay. Removing bubbles and increasing elasticity is a process both incorporate.

There is a lovely serenity in knowing something is going to take four hours long, and to accept it as is. There is a calmness to the knowing. We were working on some brochure art, so we continued working together and designing in between the kneading times.

When one slices the noodle, it can be stretched out. First, one uses the finger tips to pull it along and stretch it. Then the noodle can be held at either end and softly whisked back and forth so the noodle elongates. It is magical and fun and there is an art to it.

The art is patience. The art is in the serenity of making something. Of giving my total attention to the task at hand.

It would be a blast to travel around the world to all my friends and make the noodle by hand for you. Flour, salt and water…and a little oil at the end.

And hands, we need our beautiful hands.

The image I created with a photograph of my hands. Thank you Carissa for taking the time to show me this beautiful technique. I made noodles for dinner and you have forever changed my style of cooking.

Slow. On purpose. Taking the time to savor the making of the noodle.

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