The complicated story behind longevity noodles, a popular Lunar New Year dish
It’s nearly Lunar New Year, and Johnny Mui is finally smiling.
After staring at empty tables for the last two years because of the pandemic, the owner of New York’s Hop Lee restaurant says business is slowly recovering.
Mui joined the 48-year-old Chinatown establishment in 2005 as an employee – after losing everything to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans – and took over in 2018.
These days, he’s busy talking to suppliers to ensure he’s got all the necessary ingredients to meet the demand for one of Hop Lee’s most popular Lunar New Year dishes: Stir-fried Ginger Scallion Lobster Yi Mein – aka longevity noodles.
“Every Lunar New Year, almost every table would order our longevity noodles,” he says. “Good looking and better tasting, they symbolize luck, too.”
Longevity noodles symbolize long life. According to tradition, the chef can’t cut the noodle strands, and each strand needs to be eaten whole – no breaking it before you eat it.
But that’s where the consensus ends.
Ask people of Chinese heritage which types of noodles should be eaten, and you’ll likely get different answers.
At Hop Lee, longevity noodles are synonymous with yi mein, also known as e-fu noodles. These chewy and spongy Cantonese egg wheat strands are dried, deep-fried and consumed all year long, especially on special occasions like birthdays and during the Spring Festival.
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Hop Lee’s lobster longevity noodles recipe has been passed down for decades. The yi mein noodles are braised with seasonings and shiitake mushrooms. The lobsters are stir-fried with fermented salted black beans, eggs, minced meats, ginger and scallions.
“Then we put the lobsters on top of the noodles, and the juice trickles down. It’s so delicious. Even my son loves it – he’d ask me to prepare the dish for his school parties,” says Mui.
Over at Xi’an Famous Foods – a humble Flushing, New York City restaurant that in under two decades has swollen into a successful chain serving northwestern Chinese food – CEO Jason Wang has his own view on longevity noodles, which he grew up eating. In his opinion, any noodle that is extended in length counts.
“Our biang biang noodles are definitely among them,” says Wang.
Made with wheat flour and water, the dough is pulled and cut into long, flat and wide belt-like noodles.
“The most traditional way is actually to just put aromatics like scallions and garlic, along with freshly-ground red chili powder on top of the noodles, sear it with vegetable oil and dress it with soy sauce and black rice vinegar. We call these Spicy Hot-Oil Seared Hand-Ripped Noodles,” Wang tells CNN Travel.
Early Chinese immigrants in the United States were predominantly Cantonese, which explains why yi mein is often what many Chinese Americans consider longevity noodles.
But regional cuisines, like dishes from Xi’an, have been popping up and diversifying the options in recent decades.
“Yi mein are Cantonese noodles, so they are different from what we’d eat, but the symbolism of longevity is shared,” says Wang.
“The exact type of noodles varies, but the idea remains ‘long noodles for long life,’ and any long noodles serve that purpose.”
Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Yau Kee Noodles Factory, founded in the 1950s, is ramping up production ahead of the Spring Festival. During this time of year, the factory’s owner says demand will increase by 20% to 30%.
“We are busiest before Lunar New Year because more parties and gatherings are going on at this time, and people eat e-fu noodles, or longevity noodles, on these occasions,” says Tang Pui-sum, second-generation director of the family business.
As for why e-fu noodles are a popular choice for Cantonese, Tang says it comes down to quality.
“In the Guangdong region, people use e-fu noodles to treat their family and friends on special occasions because they are considered better – it takes more steps to make, and the ingredients are better. It’s also unique because e-fu noodles are deep-fried, which sets them apart from other noodles in northern China.”
The origins of longevity noodles
So now that the issue of what counts as a longevity noodle is settled – short answer: pretty much any noodle as long as it’s, well, long – an important question remains: who decided that eating long noodles can extend one’s life?
Most – if not all – blogs and websites trace the history of longevity noodles back to Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (ruling from 141-87 BCE), who told his ministers that he heard that if one had a long face, one would have a long life.
As he couldn’t change the length of his face, the emperor decided to eat long noodles because the word for noodle sounds similar to the word for face in Chinese. The custom then spread beyond the palace to the rest of the country.
We consulted two food historians for their thoughts on the folk tale – and they aren’t buying that story.
“The Han Dynasty was the time when the development of China’s noodle culture flourished,” says Zhao Rongguan, a leading scholar in China who has been writing about Chinese food history and culture for the last four decades.
“It was the era that laid the foundations and techniques of modern-day noodles. But to say that Emperor Wu was why we have longevity noodles, I’d say it’s ridiculous internet heresy.”
Chen Yuanpeng, a professor at Taiwan’s National Dong Hwa University who specializes in the history of Chinese food, decided to consult his colleagues too when asked by CNN Travel to share his take on longevity noodles.
“I called Mr. Wang Renxiang (a Chinese archaeologist who specializes in food culture) and Mr. Naomichi Ishige (a Japanese food historian and anthropologist). Both are Chinese noodle experts; neither know how longevity noodles and the story came about,” says Chen.
Two Killed in Stampede After Rochester Concert
Two women were killed when attendees of a GloRilla concert in Rochester, New York, rushed for the exits following the show Sunday night, police said.
One woman, 33-year-old Rhondesia Belton, was pronounced dead at a local hospital, police said early Monday morning. The second victim, identified only as a 35-year-old woman, died from her injuries later Monday.
Another 35-year-old woman remained in critical condition Monday night, police said.
Police initially said officers had responded to a report of gunfire at the Main Street Armory shortly after the concert ended around 11 p.m. and that “the injuries appear to be as a result of a large crowd pushing towards the exits following accounts of individuals hearing what they believed to be gunshots.
Later Monday morning, however, the Rochester Police Department said that “there are some reports that shots were heard, causing the crowd to panic, but that has not been confirmed.”
Police said they are still investigating the possible cause of the crowd surge, “including crowd size, shots fired, pepper spray, and more.”
Seven more people were brought in private vehicles to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
Alec Richardson, of CBS Rochester affiliate WROC-TV tweeted that he “saw a firefighter performing CPR, presumably on a victim on scene.
About an hour after the incident, GloRilla, a Grammy-nominated rapper from Memphis, tweeted that she’d just heard what happened and that she was “praying everybody is ok.”
After learning of the second death, she tweeted that she was “devastated & heartbroken over the tragic deaths that happened after Sunday’s show. My fans mean the world to me praying for their families & for a speedy recovery of everyone affected.”
Mayor Malik Evans called the fatal stampede “totally unacceptable” and promised a thorough investigation into whether venue operators had the necessary safety measures in place for a large crowd.
“We are going to hold people accountable for what happened last night, period,” Evans said, though he cautioned that it was too early in the investigation to assign blame. “I intend to get to the bottom of this.
The armory hosted sporting events throughout the 20th century before being shut down for several years starting in the late 1990s, partly because it lacked a fire suppression system at the time.
It reopened after extensive renovations and began hosting concerts and other events in 2005. Smith said its main arena is meant to have a capacity of about 5,000 people, and the city fire marshal will work with police to determine whether that capacity was exceeded Sunday.
City officials said the facility underwent a physical fire safety inspection in December and was compliant with fire codes.
The venue’s next scheduled show, a Saturday performance by the rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, has been canceled.
“If you go to a concert, you do not expect to be trampled,” Evans said. “Your loved ones expect you to be able to come home and talk about the experience that you had at that great concert.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Picks Up $9.5 Million Georgia Farm
The sprawling equestrian estate has an eight-bedroom mansion and a 150-year-old caretaker’s cottage.
The Rock has rolled to the Georgia countryside.
An entity tied to actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has snapped up a historic 46-acre estate outside of Atlanta.
A Georgia-based company linked to Mr. Johnson’s business managers in Los Angeles purchased the equestrian home in the bucolic small town of Powder Springs for roughly $9.5 million, according to public property records. Mr. Johnson, 47, a former professional wrestler who has since built a career as an actor and producer, could not be reached for comment.
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At the center of the sprawling, multi-parcel property is a 14,000-square-foot megamansion with eight bedrooms—plenty of space for Mr. Johnson’s family of five.
The main house was built in 2002 and features stone fireplaces, a custom wine cellar and a backyard with a freeform, salt-water pool and cabana, according to the listing with agent Jeff DeJarnett of Harry Norman Realtors. Mr. DeJarnett declined to comment on the sale.
The elegant home draws on French country inspiration, including partial brick and stone cladding on the exterior, large casement windows and rustic interiors with exposed wood and stone throughout, images show. Amenities also include a cozy, wood-paneled library with stained glass.
The Johnsons also get a fully outfitted horse farm with a 12-stall barn and riding arena with a viewing deck. Among its oldest charms is an original 150-year-old farm house, which now serves as a caretaker’s cottage, according to the listing.
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The sale comes a few months after the “Fast and the Furious” star married his longtime girlfriend, Lauren Hashian, in Hawaii.
The deal also comes on the heels of an announcement in September that Mr. Johnson and Dany Garcia, his business partner and ex-wife, plan to host an inaugural fitness conference, called Atheticon, in Atlanta in October 2020.
These Are The Most Dangerous Airports Ever Built
Traveling can be stressful, no matter who you are. Whether you’re traveling for leisure, work, or anything else, there are a ton of different tasks you have to accomplish before you can take flight. Most of these tasks, from packing your suitcases to managing connecting flights, are exhaustive.
But consider this, sometimes the airport itself is challenging, especially for those who work there. Even the most experienced pilots have run into problems trying to take off the runway from the airports on this list. This list details the most alarming airports in the world, with dangers ranging from dangerously too-short runways to major construction fails.
1. Courchevel Airport – France
Year of construction: 1962
Risk factors: Location of runway
This airport, located in the middle of the French Alps, is used to access the Courchevel ski resort. It is located 6,588 feet above sea level, and its runway measures just 1,761 feet. This short runway prevents pilots from last-minute, necessary maneuvering.
Furthermore, Courchevel airport has no lighting, which makes landing considerably difficult on foggy, rainy, or snowy days. To make matters worse, it is built between the snowy mountains, which causes a problem for planes trying to approach and descend.
2. Barra International Airport – Scotland
Year of construction: 1936
Risk factors: Track on the beach
This airport, which is located north of the island of Barra, is the only one in the world where takeoffs and landings take place on the beach. This, first of all, means that all air operations are easily affected by the tide.
The beach that serves as the airstrip is open to the public, so people should check if the airport is in operation before visiting. The beach at this airport is also often visited by seals, and the airport staff frequently have to escort the seals back to the sea to avoid accidents.
3. Princess Juliana International Airport – Saint Martin
Year of construction: 1942
Risk factors: Closeness of airplanes
This busy airport has a strange feature, where its planes fly barely 82 feet above the beach. In fact, the aircraft passes so close to the ground that the local government has warned tourists to stay at a safe distance during take-off and landing.
This is due to the possibility of a too-close sightseer being thrown into the sea or sucked into a turbine. During its years of operation, this airport has been the site of four accidents that have had devastating consequences.
4. Male International Airport – Maldives
Year of construction: 1960
Risk factors: Runway size
The Maldives Islands airport is located on the island of Hulhule. Its main problem is the size of its runway, which is so small that it occupies the entire length of the island. Any miscalculation can easily lead the plane to the sea.
Another unusual feature of this busy airport is that, once its planes manage to land, passengers usually have to take speedboats to get to where they are going in the Maldives. Otherwise, they’ll be stuck waiting for hours.
5. Kai Tak Airport – Hong Kong
Year of construction: 1925
Risk factors: Surrounded by buildings
Landing at Kai Tak Airport was challenging even for skilled pilots. The airport was surrounded by tall buildings, and airplanes passed so close to the buildings that passengers felt they could peek into the offices. To make matters worse, the track was built on the sea, and it was far too narrow and short.
It is not difficult to imagine why passengers referred to this airport as “Heart Attack Airport.” Kai Tak was the site of no less than fifteen accidents before it was shut down in 1998 because of how dangerous it was.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo Airport – Madeira, Portugal
Year of construction: 1973
Risk factors: Track built on the sea
Some describe Cristiano Ronaldo Airport as an engineering marvel. For others, it is a danger. The island of Madeira is so small that the runway of his airport had to be expanded over the sea. For this expansion, 180 pillars were built that hold the track over the water.
The strong winds on the island, as well as the narrow airstrip, make the maneuvers that the pilots carry out very complex. In fact, all those in charge of taking off or landing a plane on the island of Madeira must receive special training.
7. Congonhas Airport – São Paulo, Brazil
Year of construction: 1936
Risk factors: Closeness of the airplanes
The main problem with the Congonhas airport is that, being as it’s located in a residential area in the center of São Paulo, it is surrounded by buildings. This causes pilots to have to be particularly careful when maneuvering during takeoff and landing.
As if that were not enough, its track is considered one of the slipperiest in existence, due to the inefficient drainage systems in the area. Unfortunately, this airport has seen several accidents. One of them occurred in 2007, and it caused the authorities to decide to expan
8. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport – Saba Island
Year of construction: 1963
Risk factors: Shortest runway in the world
This airport is known as the most dangerous in existence, since it has the shortest runway in the world. It’s just 1,300 feet! In addition to the fact that its length makes takeoff and landing very difficult, the airport is located on the edge of a cliff.
This means that any mistake in the calculations could easily lead an aircraft into the sea or onto the rocks below the cliff. For this reason, jets cannot take off or land at this airport. Propeller planes, on the other hand, can make use of the facilities without major problems.
9. Gibraltar Airport – United Kingdom
Year of construction: 1939
Risk factors: Track intersects the road
Gibraltar Airport is considered the most dangerous in Europe after Madeira. The reason? It is the only one in the world whose runway meets the road, and at the same level! This is because the airport made maximum use of its minimal space.
So, when a plane is close, highway traffic stops to give way to the aircraft. This means that any traffic accident could affect the takeoff or landing of the planes. At this airport, what was saved in space is lost in security.
10. Gustaf III Airport – San Bartolomé
Year of construction: 1984
Risk factors: Short runway, near the beach
This airport’s strange feature is that it only provides its services from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. In addition, it can only be used by small airplanes of no more than 20 passengers, since its location would considerably complicate the take-off and landing of larger aircrafts.
The track, only 2,133 feet long, is located between a hill and a beach. This means that pilots must be very careful when they maneuver. And, tourists on the beach should also be careful; there are even signs that warn them not to sunbathe near the base of the track.
11. Scíathos International Airport – Greece
Year of construction: 1972
Risk factors: Location, short runway
Skiathos Airport in Greece has the shortest runway in Europe. In addition, the uneven terrain of the island means that the airport was built over the sea. In fact, the airstrip links the island of Skiathos with that of Lazareta.
This airport does not accept all types of airplanes, since the largest planes need more space to take off and land. Another quirk of this airport is how close it is to the highway. Many motorists can easily see planes taking off at a short (and somewhat terrifying) distance.
12. Toncontin International Airport – Honduras
Year of construction: 1921
Risk factors: Closeness to the mountains and road
Toncontin Airport is so dangerous that commercial airline pilots who operate there have to undergo special training for takeoffs and landings. The main risk involved is that Toncontin’s track, in addition to being very short, is too close to the mountains and the road.
Sadly, there have been at least ten serious accidents at Toncontin. The best known of them, which happened in 2008, occurred when a plane failed to stop after landing. The aircraft went off the runway and fell onto the road, colliding with several cars.
13. Paro International Airport – Bhutan
Year of construction: 1968
Risk factors: Closeness to the mountain, weather conditions
Paro International Airport is so dangerous that there are fewer than 24 pilots who are trained and authorized to use it. This airport only operates from sunrise to sunset, and its main danger is that it is surrounded by the Himalayan Mountains.
In addition, due to the weather conditions of the area, the runway (which is very short, by the way), is only visible to the pilots moments before they land on the ground. Before landing, pilots also have to watch out for the utility poles and houses that surround the landing zone.
14. Tenzing-Hillary Airport – Nepal
Year of construction: 1964
Risk factors: Altitude
This small airport is popular because it is located at the same place where the vast majority of people begin their ascent to Everest Base Camp. Very often, fog, winds, and poor visibility end up delaying flights or even causing the airport to close for the day.
One of the main risks posed by this airport is that it is surrounded by mountains, and the altitude at which the airport is located is so high that aircraft engines sometimes have difficulty obtaining the oxygen they need during take-off acceleration.
15. Gisborne Airport – New Zealand
Year of construction: 1960
Risk factors: Track intersects with train tracks
The operations carried out at this airport look like something out of an action movie, as the main runway crosses the tracks of a working train. This means that all takeoffs and landings must be carefully coordinated with train schedules.
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