Here's how to tell if you're a noodle-head:
1. You're sitting in a fabulously expensive Italian restaurant, knowing you can order anything you'd like -- milk-fed veal, sumptuous seafood -- and you get the manicotti with meat sauce.
2. The fridge is full of socially acceptable breakfast possibilities -- eggs, bacon, yogurt -- and you grab last night's cold spaghetti.
3. You look in the cabinets and discover that you own exactly one can of vegetables -- and 32 half-used boxes of supermarket pasta.
The next step in this downward spiral of carbohydrate catatonia usually involves some sort of ethnic diversification -- a latent addiction to won-ton soup; a torrid encounter with seductively silky Japanese noodles. Before long you've tumbled head-long into a sort of starch-based trance, slurping your way mindlessly through the world's great noodle dishes.
In some ways, the many permutations of pasta-esque dishes share attributes, each possessing that certain spicy, chewy, sassy character that defines all good noodles. In other ways, they are so very different, each adding their own subtle twist to our twirly desires.
But the most confounding thing about these non-Italian pasta dishes is finding them. Here's a start: