Although we’re only six weeks into 2019, one truly great food meme has already emerged: parsleyed noodles. The riffs on this meme are sillier than the ones about Trump’s “hamberder” dinner, and more lighthearted than the “I made queso” jokes from Super Bowl Sunday. And unlike those other two recent food memes, the parsleyed noodles phenomenon also keeps building momentum several weeks after it sprung to life on Twitter. Here’s everything you need to know about the best food meme of 2019, so far:
A recipe meme is born
On January 18, late night TV writer Ariel Dumas stumbled upon an absurdly simple, yet eloquently-written recipe for parsleyed noodles in the New York Times Cooking database from the newspaper’s legendary food editor (and first-ever restaurant critic) Craig Claiborne. Although this recipe is at least 35 years old, it’s apparently very popular with a small group of Times readers who like to repeat the dish description in the comments of the post. Honing in on the recipe’s meme potential, Dumas replied to her tweet with a few mashups of the recipe description and other other pop culture memes:
ThEsE gEnErOuSlY BuTtEreD NOodlEs, sPrInklEd wItH JuSt a QuArtEr cUp oF PaRsLeY fOr CoLoR aNd FreShNesS, ArE tHe PeRfEcT BlAnK cAnVaS fOr PrAcTiCaLlY AnY StEw oR BrAiSe. pic.twitter.com/34F4WfigME
— Ariel Dumas (@ArielDumas) January 18, 2019
A meme evolves
It didn’t take long for fellow jokesters to riff on the Craig Claiborne recipe meme. Many of the best versions of parsleyed noodles appeared as replies to Dumas’s original tweets.
Tell Cersei. I want her to know generously buttered noodles sprinkled with just a quarter cup of parsley for color and freshness are the perfect blank canvas for practically any stew or braise. pic.twitter.com/V2XbWYcq9X
— HBO (@HBO) January 18, 2019
But the meme also proliferated outside of the initial thread, as more Twitter users found new places to insert the recipe description:
Also, generously buttered noodles, sprinkled with just a quarter cup of parsley for color and freshness, are the perfect blank canvas for practically any stew or braise. https://t.co/pZbLLCXWtC
— Kim Severson (@kimseverson) February 9, 2019
“These generously buttered noodles, sprinkled with just a quarter cup of parsley for color and freshness, are the perfect blank canvas for practically any stew or braise.” https://t.co/jEhmo2mtLI
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) February 10, 2019
A meme goes meta
As evidenced by the tweets from food correspondent Kim Severson and editor Erin McCann, the parsleyed noodles meme is particularly popular with Times staffers. And last Thursday, the newspaper’s Cooking section took the joke to the next level by sharing a carefully-styled photo of a recipe print-out next to the dish’s ingredients, along with a picture of the finished product. Craig Claiborne’s original description is the caption of this post, and current Times food critic Pete Wells offers his two cents in the comments:
Over the last several months, the Times has published a few recipes that have become wildly popular on social media, so it’s amusing to see the paper embrace the sudden viral fame of one of the dorkier dishes from its archives. The message, it seems, is that the Times is officially the home of recipes that go viral, even if they’ve been hiding in the vault for decades.
The perfect blank canvas for comedy
With its one-month anniversary on the horizon, the parsleyed noodles meme has already endured longer than many other, similarly-viral food jokes. Its longevity might be explained by the fact that the meme is not tied to any current events, so it doesn’t live or die by the news cycle. It’s also free of any political connotations, so anyone can feel comfortable using it without worrying about social media trolls. And the recipe description itself is short enough to fit into any tweet or comment section, so it can easily be used as dummy text or a quick, irreverent response.
While the future of the meme is unclear, one thing’s for certain: These generously buttered noodles, sprinkled with just a quarter cup of parsley for color and freshness, are the perfect blank canvas for practically any stew or braise.