Where Our Food Comes From
Latin cooking started as mix of ingredients from the old world, the new world and the new immigrants. When Columbus set foot in La Española he didn't know the exchange of foods, animals, exotic woods, and plants was about to start full force.
The old world gave us wheat, onions, chickpeas, cauliflower, garlic, beet, lettuce, spinach, almonds, sugar cane, apricots, cherries, pears, figs, peaches, lemons and oranges (to my surprise) as well as cattle, sheep, horses, pigs and chickens. Many of the new plants grew like wild fire in the unspoiled and fertile soils of America.
Because of the constant trading many Hispanic foods entered far countries like India, where hot peppers and peanuts are a staple of their diet, the same happened to sweet potatoes in china.
African and Other Influences in Hispanic Cuisine
African slavery started in 1538 and ended 400 years later leaving about 10 million African slaves in Hispanic America.
The slaves lived in the sugar cane and plantain farms where they cultivated their own foods. They also worked cooking, therefore over time they introduced their ingredients to our cooking creating a tasty blend. Palm oil, ginger, okra, and greens are all gifts from African slaves.
The main influence in Latin cooking came from the Spaniards who were influenced by the Moorish occupation. They brought oranges and olives, nuts and olive oil which they learnt to use from the Arabs.
Many variations of the famous tapas are all over Hispanic America, enpanadas, pinchos, croquetas and pickeled foods are examples of them.
In the beginning of the late 1800s about 2.5 million Italians settled in Argentina and 1.2 million in Brazil influencing Latin ingredients and methods of cooking.
Our cooking is what I call a rich mix, it comes from the indigenous people, the African slaves, the Spaniards and Portuguese, and has a touch of German, Italian and French cooking.
Latin Cooking by Country
Puerto Rican Food
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