When Italy and China meet

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

By now you've discovered that the eponymous Esther of Garden of Esther is not Italian - I'm Malaysian. What most Americans don't know is that many Malaysians have Chinese ancestry and as a result our cuisine is heavily influenced by Chinese traditions.

To paraphrase Anthony Bourdain: Any time you get the Chinese and the Italians all agreeing on something, it's pretty clear it's a really good idea.

Bourdain was talking about food of course. If you were to examine the food cultures of both China and Italy, you'd find a fair amount of common ground. Noodles, for example, are a mainstay in both places and my dad's love of noodles was one of my inspirations for starting Garden of Esther (although the noodles I grew up with were Asian, not Italian).

Garden of Esther recently threw a little pasta party, but this time instead of serving Italian style dishes we went with an Asian theme. Noodles have an amazing versatility!

We took a lot of pictures of the food, but, alas, none of the people. I promise there were people! In fact, there were hungry people, because every morsel of food was eaten. No leftovers!

And there's no secret to making any of this at home no matter what your ancestry. Give it a try! Search the internet! Maybe curry laksa will become a new favorite in your house, too!

Curry laksa soup is spicy and usually contains shrimp and/or chicken in addition to the noodles

Spinach linguine and spaghetti, both part of the curry laksa soup

Curry laksa paste includes dried chilies, garlic, turmeric, and lemongrass

Mmmm, the broth is ready - time to add the noodles!

This is a cold pasta dish - tagliatelle with a peanut butter and sesame sauce, topped with green onions. Super refreshing on a hot summer day.

Like I said, no leftovers!

Ok, not Asian. These are pasta carbonara donuts. Totally an American invention. And totally gone in five minutes.

Spring rolls along the top and Malaysian fritters (with anchovies) in the middle.

Teh tarik is a traditional Malaysian beverage. It's like mixing hot tea with sweetened condensed milk.

There WAS a lot of food, at the beginning at least.

So the next time you say to yourself - there's nothing new I can do with pasta - think again! Instead of Italian, try it Asian-style.

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To learn more about Esther's journey to the world of fresh from the garden pasta, read here.

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