The Chinese used to call all wheaten food bing, a word exclusively referring to crepes or pancakes in modern times. Around 25–220 AD, zhubing (boiled bing) and later tangbing (soup bing) emerged in central north China. It acquired its current name mian in the Tang dynasty (618–917) and started spreading throughout the territory from the mid-fourteenth century. By the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Beijing’s noodle specialty zhajiangmian (noodles with fried sesame bean sauce), Yangzhou’s qundaimian (petticoat noodles), known for its generous soup, and Fujian’s bazhenmian (eight-treasure noodles)—famous for its multiple flavours—had already gained national reputation.
Originally, noodles were pancake-shaped.
Not until the Song dynasty (960–1279) were they judged aesthetically by their length and diameter. The current Guinness record is held by Li Enhai and Li Entao, father and son. The noodles they pulled out of a kilogram of dough, if connected, would have stretched 300,000 metres. This is the famous shoulamian (stretched noodles). There are numerous other types of noodles known for their diverse flavours instead of length: to name a few, dalumian (noodles with gravy), chaomian (stir-fried noodles), rousimian (sliced-meat noodles), niuroumian (beef noodles), yangchunmian (noodles with clear savoury soup) and chaoxianlengmian (Korean cold noodles). Each region has its renowned specialties. While Sichuan takes pride in its spicy noodles (dandanmian), Shanxi boasts its noodles chopped from dough held above the chef s head and directed into a boiling pot by the knife’s momentum (daoxiaomian).
Added to the list should be fangbianmian (convenient noodles), an instant food quickly gaining popularity in the land of noodles.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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