Noodle shop copies Italian trend, hands out ‘free’ dishes

NOODLE GIVEAWAY::The owner of a noodle shop in Banciao said she hopes that a ‘free’ food initiative will inspire people to help those facing hungry times

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Apr 20, 2013 - Page 3

Since late last month, a noodle shop in New Taipei City (新北市) has been serving “free” noodles to people in straitened circumstances in honor of the Italian tradition of caffe sospeso, or suspended coffee, and the practice has begun resonating with other small nearby businesses.

The noodles are not actually given away by the shop, but are paid for in advance by other customers so that they are reserved, or “suspended,” for people who cannot afford to buy their own.

Local media reported that Yen Lin-ying (顏林蔭), who has run the shop in a market in Banciao District (板橋) for 32 years, started asking customers late last month whether they would pay for noodles to give away to others after her son told her about seeing Italy’s suspended coffee movement on Facebook.

The response from customers was surprisingly positive, she said.

In two weeks, customers have paid for more than 40 “suspended” bowls of noodles at NT$75 each, and half of the bowls have already been served to needy people who are just learning about the help she is offering.

Yen keeps track of the suspended noodles on offer on a whiteboard in her shop.

Among those she has given food to are a single mother and her child who shared a bowl of noodles, and an unemployed man who ordered the noodles to go so he could give them to his elderly mother at home.

Since she began the practice, two other food shops and three stalls in the market have also offered to provide their own versions of suspended service.

“I never imagined that a mere bowl of noodles could have such an impact,” the 60-year-old was quoted as saying.

As in Italy, where the tradition of caffe sospeso has enjoyed a kind of revival because of hard economic times, poverty and hunger, Yen said she hopes the initiative will promote the power to do good so that more people can benefit.