What Are Longevity Noodles And When Do You Eat Them?

As if you needed an excuse to eat noodles, here's one that's steeped in tradition and delicious simplicity. Everyone has their go-to special occasion foods – you know, the thing that's passed down from grandma to grandkid, is prepared in a very specific way, and only comes out for a wedding or a holiday celebration. It might be tamales for some or latkes for others, but with celebration foods, you can usually bet you'll be getting the good stuff. Yi Mein, or longevity noodles, in China are one such item.

Longevity noodles are eaten at celebratory occasions, especially New Year's or birthdays, although they can be served at many banquet-style gatherings (via The Woks of Life). They're a simple dish that's served at the end of a big meal with lots of dishes. As the Omnivore's Cookbook puts it, "the noodles are like the pumpkin pie dessert—you know you're too full to eat it, but feel that the occasion would be incomplete without eating some of it." These noodles also symbolize long life, prosperity, and luck, so you should probably watch out if you don't eat some.

How are longevity noodles served?

Though there seems to be some flexibility in the kind of noodles that are used, many Asian grocery stores carry actual Yi Mein pre-packaged noodles (via Serious Eats). The Woks of Life calls Yi Mein the go-to noodle, writing that the use of baking soda or soda water in the dough creates a distinctive flavor and feel. And longevity noodles are deep-fried before they even get packaged, so how could these long-life noodles possibly be bad?

The Woks of Life serves up these celebratory noodles stir-fried with chives and mushrooms plus a mouthwatering combo of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper. Yum. But you can serve them with a simple broth, too, and one recipe even makes them from scratch – in rainbow colors. If you want to break out longevity noodles for Lunar New Year, eating them in an array of colors must add some extra-special power – but we'll leave it to you to find out.