by Jep Hostetler
How can it be that the Bible does not speak about noodles,
a genuine Mennonite food? Did you ever attend a Mennonite potluck
where there were NO noodle dishes of any kind? In addition, the
word "noodle," all by itself, is a very funny word.
Therefore, Mennonites eat funny food. Think about it. Say the
word "noodle" out loud several times, like "noooooooo
or like "noo
.dllllllllle" or as my granddaughter
was fond of saying, "nooodooos." If more than one person
says "noodle, noodle, noodle" and several others around
him or her say "noodle," someone will of necessity
have to laugh.
The word "noodle" has a several different meanings
for this 63-year-old Mennonite kid. Dad would often suggest that
because of my spontaneous nature, I was a bit impetuous. He would
seal his comments with something like, "Jeppy, you are just
like a frog. You jump up in the air, and while you are up in
the air you look around for some place to land. Why don't you
use your noodle?" Use my noodle? I think he meant use my
brain. So brain equals noodle, or noodle equals brain. Did you
ever think about eating brains while you are eating noodles?
There must be some connection because my dad told me to use my
My mind's eye still holds a vivid image of my mother making
homemade noodles. She would faithfully, i.e., about four times
a year, make up a big batch of egg noodles. She rolled dough
out on the oilcloth-covered kitchen table, into a very large,
thin, circular, flour-dusted creation that looked like an over-grown
thin pizza crust. Deftly her hand would take a knife and cut
long, narrow strips from this massive flat thing, and place the
strings carefully over a rack that was on top of the old Frigidaire.
There the noodles dried, waiting to be placed in a fabulous chicken
noodle soup (which incidentally had more chicken and more noodles
than it did soup), or made into our favorite dish, "buttered
All this brings me to another encounter with noodles. Shortly
after our marriage my wife Joyce wanted to please me with a special
dish of buttered noodles. They were adequate, but they did not
compare with my mother's buttered noodles. Perhaps it was the
store-bought noodles that were the problem. So, with diligence
Joyce searched specialty stores and Amish markets to find the
right noodles. This went on for nearly seven years, until one
evening she heard the words, "These are just like mom's
buttered noodles! Wow! What did you do to finally find the secret
formula?" All along she could have called my mother to find
out the secret, but no, that would have been embarrassing. Her
answer was simple, sheepish, and clear, "Honey", she
said, "I used real butter"!
Finally, a Mennonite friend of mine, originally from Neighborville,
Pa., said with a grin, "I never could get folks to tell
me why the town had the nickname it did, but it was called by
all the locals "noodledoosey."
Maybe we should use our noodles, eat more buttered noodles,
and move to "noodledoosey".
Jep Hostetler, Columbus, Ohio, is a humorist and, an associate
professor emeritus at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.
He and his wife Joyce serve as staff persons for the Mennonite