17 Mar 2018

10 foods that are not from here and we almost consider ours.

Autor: Alberto José Aguirre

It has not happened to you that whenever you get hungry, you do not want to eat at home and you want to go out or call for a delivery, you end up in the same obvious alternatives. Well many of those food options are not original or creations of this side of the world.

Most of what we consider our food or part of our culinary culture such as coffee, banana and bread are not totally Colombian. The coffee comes from North Africa, the banana is native to Southeast Asia and the history of bread begins in Egypt but the Europeans are the ones who developed it. Not counting other options that we have adopted and only exist here as it is a Hawaiian pizza or the samba where the secret ingredient is the pineapple a South American fruit and the maduritos respectively.

For this reason, I have taken the time to investigate what are the 10 foods that we like so much, are not from these lands, find their origin and try to determine how they ended up in Colombia.

Coffee an African product that arrived by accident in the Americas.

There is no product that best describes a nation, to such an extent that Colombians call us coffee growers, but the surprising thing is that this is not a native product of this side of the world. In fact the word “coffee” comes from the Turkish term kahve and some point out the Jesuits brought grain to New Granada around 1730, others say it was a traveler who came from the Guianas through Venezuela. But by the beginning of the 19th century, commercial crops already existed, by the time it was cultivated for export in several departments to North America and Europe.

In general terms that is the story that led us to be one of the most iconic coffee producers in the world, which has accompanied the creation of a republic, living the variations of an economic connected with the world and facing different internal conflicts that have affected the rural areas where this product is produced. But the coffee bean has its origin in Ethiopia, initially spread to Egypt and Yemen, but it was the Middle East who first introduced it to the world in the sixteenth century.

The bread came by the ostia, but evolved.

There is nothing like getting to the neighborhood bakery to eat a pandebono with bocadillo, a rosquita de maíz or an arepa of your choice. Mine is the Boyacense and all the above is difficult to find in a bakery in another country.

At the moment that the conquistadors got off the boat they mixed a lot of indigenous and Spanish foods generating one of the most interesting culinary mestizajes. At that time the Indians consumed corn in the form of arepas, bollos, soups, tamales and tortillas, then the conquerors introduced the wheat into seeds, spikes and sowed them in different regions of the country giving excellent results.

But the history of bread is that of cultures, this product has been made with the cereal available in the area or with the modified version more resistant, both wheat and other cereals have been used in Europe and part of Africa, corn it is frequent in America and rice in Asia. In the end it is synonymous with food; it is an ingredient that is part of various religious and social rituals in much of the world, being also a key element in the consumer price index, used to determine the evolution of the nation’s living cost.

Banana and/or banana are Asian and reproduce as clones

If one of the main ingredients in our cuisine comes from Southeast Asia, it was one of the first plants to be domesticated 10,000 years ago, but 2,000 years ago a genetic mutation generated three copies of each chromosome which produced bananas without seeds. The plants reproduce by cuts, practically all the current plantations are copies of their ancestors.

The banana came first to Mexico in the sixteenth century and was also brought to Brazil by the Portuguese at the same time, initially as a source of food for the slaves who called it a banana. Commercial cultivation began in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries mainly in Central America by a company that became a monopoly for a time. At the present time the banana is consumed worldwide as we know it, it is produced in Asia, Central America, South America and Spain mainly.

Latinos are the only ones who use ripe bananas in such creative and different ways that when someone from other latitude sees them for the first time they are surprised.

The hamburger comes from Hamburg, Germany.

Today hamburgers are known as the United Stated fast food flagship, but its origin goes back to the growth of the cattle domestication in Hamburg, Germany, during the 12th century, according to History Channel. There, meat pies are known as frikadellen or buletten.

In the nineteenth century, political unrest caused many Germans to immigrate to the United States, where they opened breweries that served meat cut “Hamburg” style, as it was known that Hamburg exported high quality meat.

The hamburger found its way between two loaves during the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, where it was introduced as a new food, along with ice cream cones and cotton candy. Colombia arrives due to the influence that we had of the North American culture and the barbecues that expatriates made in this country when they came to set up production plants for the Colgate, Johnson & Johnson, Goodyear or Chevrolet brands in the middle of the last century.

The fried and roasted chicken probably comes from African countries.

Some say the fried chicken comes from the Scots, who are said to have been frying chicken breasts in animal fat for centuries unlike their English counterparts who preferred to bake or boil the chicken, according to Scotsman Food and Drink.

However, the origins of fried chicken in America probably begin in the dark era of slavery during the early 19th century, according to The Atlantic. Deep frying is much more common in Africa, so the connection there is more likely, through the African slaves and when they did not find the oil they simply roasted the chicken in a stick over low heat with something on top to enrich the flavor.

Chicken as fast food appears in these lands when Mr. Robayo and Mr. Jordán began an experiment in the seventies that did not work together, but that separately gave rise to Kokoriko and PPC, being the pioneers of this industry and those who continue to do part of it.

Italian product pizza, that conquered the world

Where to start Christopher Columbus an Italian was who discovered the route between two civilizations in the fifteenth century, but those who really showed us the pizza were the Italians who migrated in the early and mid-twentieth century to our continent in search of a new life. The first pizzerias appeared in Colombia in the sixties operated directly by Italians, with Salerno in Cali being one of the first foreign food enterprises; this opened the way in the seventies to the appearance of the first local chain, Jenos Pizza bet on a new fast food option and today it is still part of the market.

The most accepted origin is located in ancient Rome, where it was customary to make bread in a circular manner and, after cooking, cut it in portions as with the current pizzas. Then it is possible to deduce that the origin of the pizza is due to the addition of extra ingredients on this type of bread. The ancient Greeks covered flat bread with oil, herbs and cheeses. The modern pizza was developed towards the seventeenth century in the city of Naples.

French fries are not gringas: they are Belgian and French.

The true origins of French fries can be discussed, but they are definitely not gringas.  According to National Geographic, the Belgian fishermen of the late 19th century used to fry potatoes when it was too cold to fish. American soldiers met them during the First World War and dubbed the invention of food “chips”, since the Belgians spoke French in that region.

Other food historians claim that French street vendors were selling French fries as early as the 1780s, known as “frites frites.” In this case, Thomas Jefferson is often credited with introducing potato chips in the United States by serving “pommes de terre frites à cru in petites traches” (fried chips, in small cuts) to the guests during his presidency. In the Colombian case, they arrived with the hamburger and we put it to everything, including the most iconic dish of the local fast food the famous rice with chicken.

The original recipe for tomato sauce was invented in China.

When we think of tomato sauce we immediately think of the fruity glass bottle and for some reason with the hand that does not hold the sauce we are sticking in the head, Fu** marketing of the eighties, but the truth is that this is a copy of the Ketchup gringo developed by the entrepreneur HJ Heinz, but the idea of ​​a fermented food paste actually derives from the Chinese word Hokkien “kê-tsiap”, which was originally a fermented fish sauce, according to National Geographic.

Ketchup pasta was copied by the British in the eighteenth century, but often used ingredients such as mushrooms, nuts, oysters or anchovies. The first recipe for ketchup with tomatoes was published by the American horticulturist James Mease, but lacked vinegar or sugar. It was not until 1876, when H.J. Heinz invented a new, safer way to preserve tomato ketchup, the “Heinz ketchup”, and therefore tomato sauce as we know it, was born.

Mayonnaise is not an American sauce: it is likely to come from French or Spanish garlic.

The honor (probably) of this invention goes to the French, who are said to have created salsa during the Seven Years’ War in 1756, when they captured the Spanish port of Mahón in the Mediterranean, located in the Balearic Islands that were conquered during the History by Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, Aragonese, English, Spanish and French.

Some say that after his victory, the chef of the French army invented the sauce and named it for his conquered port: “mahon-aise”. The food historian Tom Nealon says that the sauce was not a French invention, but in reality it is “Mahonesa sauce”, a Spanish sauce, and specifically Menorcan, that the French copied.  Although they claim that this story is more of a myth and that mayonnaise probably derives from the Spanish versions of the aioli, which are basically a garlic sauce.

Donuts are derived from Dutch “olykoeks” or glazed cakes.

Although the fried and sweetened dough has existed for thousands of years, the modern donut arrived in New York City through Dutch immigrants, who bake and sell olykoeks, or fatty cakes, according to the Smithsonian.  In the mid-nineteenth century, a New England woman, Elizabeth Gregory, was known for her balls of fried dough, which she always adorned by putting nuts in the middle (hence the name, “donuts”). Meanwhile, his son is credited with having put a hole in the center of his mother’s fried dessert to eliminate the fear of consuming the raw and sticky raw from the center.

But the arrival in the eighties of donuts to Colombia is a total accident when the sister of Miguel Merino (President of the Dunkin Donuts franchise for Colombia) calls him to Boston United States where he was doing his postgraduate studies at MIT, so that in a moment that I had free please investigate because the machine that had imported to make donuts did not work properly some left big, others small or just came out anything. Well Miguelito like any of us went to ask the one who knows how to make donuts, he went on a weekend with his wife and daughters to the main offices of a company that made donuts in that city and the rest is history.

Today the brand that sells the most donuts in Colombia is Productos Ramo, which are really made by a company called Europastry, making them in Spain and sending them in a special container. This same company is the one that makes donuts and other bakery products for brands such as D1, Tostao or Éxito to name just a few local retailers and in Europe it makes donuts to Dunkin Donuts. Check the package the next time you buy a packaged donut and see what I just wrote.

Watermelon was grown for the first time in African countries.

The producer of 2/3 of the watermelons is China and the main world consumer is United States, the fruit actually comes from Africa. Historians disagree about exactly where it originated in Africa (some argue that the Egyptians cultivated watermelon 4,000 years ago), but West African countries such as Nigeria are also possible candidates.  Watermelon was later cultivated by free African Americans during the era of slavery in both North America and Brazil, and was associated with negative racial stereotyping.

Our local cuisine has nothing to envy the international, in fact it brings out the best of our miscegenation and the best that this land produces, so when we want to get out of the routine we go for the local, it seems to be the poor relative we love so much but wiht better clothes we would present it anywhere in the world (as a well-known master cook says), because even if we do not recognize it, we are very proud of ours or you are not one of those who puts your hand to the plate when it is finished.

Note: part of this entry is a partial reproduction of the following article developed by Business Insider that encouraged me to investigate if those same facts applied for Colombia. http://www.businessinsider.com/american-food-facts-2017-12/#the-hamburger-comes-from-hamburg-germany-1

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