Cross-Bridge Rice Noodles (过桥米线 or Guoqiao Mixian) is one of the most famous dishes in Yunnan. It consists of a large bowl of soup as well as rice noodles and various other cold side dishes, which are being put into the hot soup step by step. As so often here, 'food' is not only just food, behind this dish with the strange name stands nothing less than a touching story only few people know of. According to the legend, this dish was founded by a kind woman from southern Yunnan, who served it to her husband, who in turn passed his exams!
Mengzi, some 270 km south of Kunming in the Honghe Prefecture, once had a beautiful lake with water as clear as jade. In the middle of the lake, there was a small island, connected to the lake's shore by a bridge. This island was in fact famous for its quiet remoteness and that was the reason for many local scholars going there to learn for their important imperial exams.
Among these scholars, there was a particularly diligent student who used to spent many days in a row on the island for his studies. His wife provided him with food every day and needed to cross the bridge over to the island. However, the scholar was always so sunk into his studies that he only remembered to eat the food long after it had been brought and it of course was cold in the meanwhile. Over time, he became weaker and weaker and his wife was very worried.
One day, the woman slaughtered a chicken to make a soup and she found out that the soup was staying warm for a very long time. This let her have an idea: she cooked a soup for her husband and all the other ingredients - like rice noodles, seasonings, mushrooms and meat - were served separately in different bowls. Like this, her husband could dip them into the soup once he was hungry and still had a hot meal. The scholar liked the dish very much, got healthier again and in the end, passed his exams successfully.
Grateful to his wife as well as happy and relieved, he wanted his wife's support to be remembered. He called the dish Cross-Bridge Rice Noodles and this name stayed up to today!
Loving this story? If of interest, learn more about Yunnan food in general, what other delicacies can be enjoyed with rice noodles or let us take you on an authentic Culinary Yunnan Tour. In any case, please don't hesitate contacting us should you have any questions or comments!