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Published: Thursday, 10/20/2005

Behold the ancient noodle

FINALLY, it's settled. No, not Iraq. Not FEMA. Not Harriet Miers' Supreme Court nomination. Not Israel-Palestine.

The noodle.

Finally it can be told where that internationally beloved food, the noodle, comes from. Maybe it hasn't kept you up nights, but this is an issue long in dispute. At last, the Italians, Arabs, Japanese, Koreans, French, and Germans can lay down their arms, or at least their noodles, because the credit belongs to - drum roll, please - the Chinese.

Researchers have unearthed a 4,000-year-old container of noodles in northwestern China. An archaeologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing said the discovery means that noodles are at least 2,000 years older than previously believed.

As much as people love noodles, it's no wonder nations have argued over their origin. Noodles go perfectly with tomato sauces, so the Italians claimed them. Arabs took credit because noodles wouldn't spoil on long desert trips. The French staked a claim because, well, that's what the French do.

Noodles go well with a lot of other foods, too. Ancient noodles were made from millet, a type of grass cultivated in China and still a mainstay after more than 7,000 years. These days, noodles are made mostly from wheat or rice.

OK, so the discovery won't foster any change in public policy or even rewrite any history books. And we doubt undecided voters will hear politicians debate the issue to help them make up their minds. But in an election season, it's a nice diversion.

Unless we've all, you know, lost our noodles.

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