The Discovery of AMERICA Changed European and ITALIAN Cuisine Forever
Christopher Columbus’ landing in the Americas on October 12, 1492 was a watershed moment for European cuisine. The Italian explorer encountered new people, new cultures, new landscapes, and special types of food that he and his crew had never seen before. They couldn’t even fathom the taste of tomatoes or cocoa beans.
CHANGING RECIPES AND TRADITIONS
Just like later explorers, Columbus wrote extensively about food in his travel journal, providing descriptions of every item he encountered and how local people prepared it. Corn, tobacco, chocolate, potatoes, avocados, pineapple, vanilla, and blueberries among other things, slowly trickled into the Old World, dramatically changing its recipes and traditions. Today, all of these ingredients are familiar to Europeans, and it is fascinating to imagine the moment when they first tasted these new foods.
PIZZA MARGHERITA AND BOLOGNESE SAUCE? THANK YOU, COLUMBUS!
If it wasn’t for the New Word, not only would we not have Hollywood films or hip-hop music, but all of our pizzas and pastas would only be served with white sauce: tomatoes are not native to Italy! The first tomato variety imported from the Americas was probably yellow, and the Italian word pomodoro (which literally means “gold apple”) comes from this unexpected coloring. However, the red tomato variety we are now familiar with, soon replaced the yellow, becoming the primary ingredient in many of Italy’s most iconic recipes.
POTATOES, EVERYONE’S FAVORITE TUBER
From French fries to roasted potatoes, from potato salad to gnocchi, there is a plethora of ways to cook these tubers. Potatoes, first cultivated in Peru, came to Europe shortly after 1492, and became extremely popular in a very short amount of time. Today, potatoes are one of the most important crops in the world. Being extremely easy to grow, potatoes played an important role in defeating famines and stimulating population growth in northern Europe.
CHOCOLATE, WHAT A GIFT FROM THE AMERICAS
Today, millions of people around the world love chocolate. Initially, however, cocoa beans were only cultivated in South America. When they arrived in Europe, first in Spain, they were not an instant success: their bitter flavor was a deterrent. Chocolate did not become popular until it began to be combined with sugar. Italians used new world products and ingredients, integrating and adapting them to create unique recipes. If you are lovers of the Italian culinary tradition and you want to cook Italian food to celebrate Columbus Day, Magnifico Food helps you find the highest quality Italian ingredients. Try BioOrto's passata di pomodoro or jarred sun-dried tomatoes, or sample Coelsanus’ delicioussauces. Buon appetito!
- Donatella Mulvoni