Born in Chicago and raised in Southern California, Jen Lin-Liu attended Columbia University and went to China in 2000 as a Fulbright Fellow. The founder of Black Sesame Kitchen, a Beijing cooking school, she is the author of On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta (Riverhead, 2013) and Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China (Harcourt, 2008). She has written about food, culture, and travel for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Saveur, Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, and other publications. She lives in Chengdu, China.

Last Updated: May 2, 2014

Sinica Podcast


The Strange History of Pasta in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
After almost three years of podcasting, this week on Sinica we bow to the inevitable with a show about Chinese cuisine, and in particular the strange history of pasta in China. Joining us for this journey is Jen Lin-Liu, author of On the Noodle Road...



On the Noodle Road

Jen Lin-Liu
Feasting her way through an Italian honeymoon, Jen Lin-Liu was struck by culinary echoes of the delicacies she ate and cooked back in China, where she’d lived for more than a decade. Who really invented the noodle? she wondered, like many before her. But also: How had food and culture moved along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route linking Asia to Europe—and what could still be felt of those long-ago migrations? With her new husband’s blessing, she set out to discover the connections, both historical and personal, eating a path through western China and on into Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, and across the Mediterranean.The journey takes Lin-Liu into the private kitchens where the headscarves come off and women not only knead and simmer but also confess and confide. The thin rounds of dough stuffed with meat that are dumplings in Beijing evolve into manti in Turkey—their tiny size the measure of a bride’s worth—and end as tortellini in Italy. And as she stirs and samples, listening to the women talk about their lives and longings, Lin-Liu gains a new appreciation of her own marriage, learning to savor the sweetness of love freely chosen. —Riverhead Books{node, 3722, 4}



Kashgar Prepares to Feast

Jen Lin-Liu
The next day, my husband, Craig, and I arrived in Kashgar, the most Uighur town in Xinjiang. At the western edge of the Taklamakan Desert and near the foot of the Pamirs and the Tien Shan mountain ranges, the city had been a trading post for Central...