• Chinese spinach noodles street food video goes viral (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
More than 7 million people have paused their day to watch a guy make Chinese noodles in a street food video.
Bron Maxabella

9 May 2018 - 3:35 PM  UPDATED 9 May 2018 - 3:25 PM

A YouTube video from Xian Street Food of a guy making Chinese spinach noodles has gone viral. The video is over 13 minutes long and has clocked up more than 7 million views.

Watching the unknown cook skilfully fold and cut a lump of soft dough into Chinese spinach noodles is strangely mesmerising. The rhythm of the process, the deft way he folds and refolds the dough, the simple apparatus he uses. It’s all there.

Front row seats

There’s a call in the comments to skip to 8:57 to see the dude’s incredible knife skills in action, but once you start watching him rolling out the dough, you’ll find you won’t want to skip ahead.

The video gives us a front-row seat to the kind of cooking that we used to have to travel to see. The large plate-glass window in front of the noodle maker hosts a variety of people who take time out of their day to watch the artist at work. The comments left on the video are an insight into why:

“This is what I call fresh food. Bravo,” said Andros Charmalambos Pyliotis.

 “I love the sound of the knife slicing through the dough. It’s so comforting,” noted Halona Black.

“A brilliant handcraft,” said Kemal & Pinar. “Looks yummy…”

The insight into the process of making the noodles is fascinating. Noodles are an “ingredient” that the majority of us buy plastic-wrapped from the supermarket. The idea of making our own noodles from scratch is both compelling and terrifying. This guy, with his deft expertise and ninja knife skills, isn’t exactly helping either, is he?

We’ve probably been watching people make food since people began.

The viral success of the noodle making man is not a new phenomenon. We’ve probably been watching people make food since people began. An entire industry of cooking shows, cooking magazines and cooking websites relies on such absorbed fascination. We simply can’t get enough of watching people prepare food.

Handmade green tea soba noodles with tobiko and shiso

Delicate and earthy, handmade soba noodles are quick to prepare and an entirely different eating experience to the commercially produced variety. The earthiness is balanced out in this recipe with the addition of fresh cucumber, zingy pickled ginger, and other Japanese ingredients, such as tobiko and shiso.

We eat with our eyes

The chef’s maxim that people “first eat with their eyes” is backed by science. A 2012 study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, for example, found that visual stimuli like “gloss, evenness, and shape,” can alter how diners perceive the taste, smell and perceived flavour of a dish. So it matters a great deal what food looks like, even if we’re not actually ever going to taste it.

Unlike the Chinese noodles video, most online food videos aren’t over 12 minutes long. Our newsfeed is more likely to be full of 30-second snappy Tasty-style food videos than an extended long-form version.

Chances are you’ve watched at least 100 of these videos and cooked the recipe exactly never.

The BuzzFeed Tasty videos have been replicated by every conceivable food channel making every type of cuisine. The basic set-up is always the same: bird’s eye view, large bowl, hands mixing, chopping and throwing food into bowl, and sped-up footage that makes you feel like you really could make 30 Swedish meatballs in 30 seconds if you felt the urge.

Of course, the majority of us never actually feel the urge. Ever. Chances are you’ve watched at least 100 of these videos and cooked the recipe exactly never.

That doesn’t mean you’ll skip the next one that rolls along in your newsfeed. For the same reason we find the making of Chinese spinach noodles so mesmerising to watch, the Tasty videos are a quick path to gentle relaxation in our day. Even if it’s just for 30 seconds.

Image: Getty images

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