In Xian we tried biang biang mian, a local noodle speciality famous not only for being tasty but for the convoluted characters with which the name of the noodles is written.
I asked a friend of mine to do some research for me on the origin of the noodles’ written name. Her findings:
One day, Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin dynasty of terracotta warriors fame, was sick and lost his appetite for all of the delicate food available in his palace. One of his servants got him a bowl of biang biang noodles, which were sold by vendors in the streets of Xianyang, the capital of Qin dynasty near present-day Xian. Qin Shi Huang liked the noodles so much that he designated the dish as a must-have food in the palace.
After Qin Shi Huang recovered, he went to the street to examine how the food vendors prepared the noodles. After he saw the whole process, he proclaimed, “People in Qin are great, Qin will unify the whole country, and the Qin people will be united and bravely ride horses to win battles to protect the land of Qin. May the Qin people have biang biang noodles every day and visit Xianyang every month.” Qin Shi Huang took a brush and ink and created a character for “biang” including parts of all of the words in his statement.