Noodle Road (2009)


noodle road cover

The KBS produced documentary series, Noodle Road, lifts the veil over the hidden history of one of the world’s most popular foods; the noodle. Spanning the globe and offered in numerous ways, the noodle has become a staple food in the way bread and rice have been viewed for thousands of years. Filming over two years and over 2 dozen countries, Noodle Road is as in-depth and comprehensive a documentary as you are likely to see. Hosted by world renowned chef Ken Hom, Noodle Road takes a historical look to the history of pasta. From the first documented preserved foods from over 2000 years ago on the Eurasia plains, to the tables of restaurants and homes worldwide, noodles have been enjoyed as meals for the wealthy and poor alike.
The strength of the series is how in-depth the content is when articulating the history of a seemingly mundane food. Archaeological evidence, ancient typography, art, and many more are explored for the sometimes surprising connections they have with the noodle. There are numerous visual effects shots used in the series; and while they are competently done, they don’t go for realistic so much as for comprehension. Recreations and reenactments are sometimes a bit on the hokey side, but an international cast does their best. I.particularly enjoys scenes of modern day noodle-making the best, particularly high speed video of Chinese noodle makers twisting and stretching noodles. Almost performance art, there is something mesmerizing about it. Cultural visits, like to Uzbekistan and Italy show the current influences, and certainly made my mouth water.
Famous chef, Ken Hom hosts and he does an alright job, though the producers made him do some odd things for his speaking parts. In particular an overlong and head-scratching shot of him delivering multiple lines while multiple versions of him stepped out from behind pillars. He is much more at home during his eating and cooking segments and he definitely enjoys cuisine. An English speaker, he is dubbed into Korean for the intended audience but the surplus of multicultural experts are replaced with voice-overs as well.
In the end, Noodle Road is an amazingly researched and intriguing look at the history of the noodle. Winning a Peabody with its very entertaining approach, it is a series that has much to offer international viewers and foodies. While some elements are revised more than once, the context amd explanations are executed to good effect. A bit overlong at 6 episodes, the series nonetheless promises to be one that should be viewed multiple times.

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Long time film lover and occasional writer. I watch anything and everything though I have massive love for the works of Shunji Iwai, Jackie Chan, Johnnie To, and Kinji Fukasaku. POP! POP!

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