"Guo qiao mi xian, one of the great signature dishes of Yunnan, is named for a story about love and loyalty. It concerns a scholar who isolated himself on an island in Mengzi County to study for the imperial exams. Every day, his faithful wife would cross the bridge to bring him noodles, but alas, the noodles were cold by the time she got there. She discovered that pouring a layer of oil on top of the broth would keep it hot enough to cook the other ingredients. Her scholar-husband passed his exam. The dish relies on great chicken stock - so much so that restaurants guard their recipes like crown jewels."
Note Dried licorice roots and pickled Chinese greens, or yan cai, are available from Asian grocers, as are the thick dried rice noodles called guo qiao mi xian, which are made specially for this dish.