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Ordering From Chinese Menu
Where would we be without paper? How would we know what a Chinese restaurant served if they didn’t provide a proper menu? And what is that menu printed on? Paper of course! Paper is one of many ancient Chinese inventions. Now weren’t they clever? First they make it so easy to get the Chinese food that we love, and they always make our Chinese food ready for us in ten minutes. Or less! What makes it so convenient is that the menu is right there (heck, it’s probably stuffed daily in your mailbox, or dropped at your doormat. But, you don’t throw them out. Never! You save them. Because soon you know you’re going to want some Chinese food. And you’ll have that menu in your junk drawer, or better still on your refrigerator. So, next time your hungry, you’ll thank us for our Chinese restaurant reviews, and you’ll thank the ancestors for their ancient Chinese invention, paper!
So what is this ancient Chinese Invention of paper? Well, i’m going to tell you. But I’m not going to write it down on paper for you, I’m going to use a modern invention, the computer. And post it on the Internet. But, we digress, for that is a story for another day.
But we must take a step back, before the ancient invention of paper, someone had to create something worthy of being written down on paper (like this article! umm, perhaps not). Yes, written language had to be created. And THEN it needed something to write it upon.
It’s not entirely clear who first came up with the notion to convert thoughts into a written language. There was a horse race between the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, the Harappa in present day Pakistan and the Kemites in Egypt to be the first to formulate a written language. We do know that the first languages appear to have emerged around 5,000 years ago. One can even make the case that it dates back earlier — that is, if one included artistic expressions like cave paintings as a form of written language. Once language began to develop, though, humans wrote on anything that would lay still long enough. Clay tablets, bamboo, papyrus and stone were only a few of the earliest writing surfaces.
Things changed once the Chinese — specifically, a man named Cai Lun — invented the prototype for modern paper. Before Cai’s breakthrough, the Chinese wrote on thin strips of bamboo and lengths of silk, but in A.D. 105, he created a mixture of wood fibers and water and pressed it onto a woven cloth. The weave in the cloth allowed the moisture in the pulpy mixture to seep out, resulting in a rough paper.
Exactly what Cai wrote on his first piece of paper is unknown. But, I suspect it was written in two columns 😉
The Jews have been around for nearly 6,000 years. We are still trying to figure out what they ate for over 1,000 years before there was Chinese food, and before that thankful ancient Chinese invention, paper.
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
—Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)