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Old 08-21-2021, 09:16 AM   #1
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Noticed Something After Years

Two things I have ever seen in Oriental cooking - tomatoes and potatoes.

Why ? Didn't they have them when figuring out all those recipes ?

T

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Old 08-21-2021, 10:20 AM   #2
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Tomatoes and potatoes, as well as peppers and tomatillos, are native to North and South America, so the rest of the world didn't know about them until after Columbus and other European explorers came here in the late 15th century. China and Japan in particular were not much interested in trading directly with Europeans, so those vegetables never became a big part of their cuisine.
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Old 08-21-2021, 11:48 AM   #3
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I, for one, am delighted that there are cuisines that don't use much potato or tomato. I am sensitive to some nightshades, cooked tomato in particular. Thankfully, I'm not noticeably sensitive to the hot peppers. It makes my life easier, and tastier, that I can find a lot of mostly nightshade-free recipes.
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Old 08-22-2021, 11:58 AM   #4
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Tomatoes and potatoes, as well as peppers and tomatillos, are native to North and South America, so the rest of the world didn't know about them until after Columbus and other European explorers came here in the late 15th century. China and Japan in particular were not much interested in trading directly with Europeans, so those vegetables never became a big part of their cuisine.
You can add beans (as in green beans), squashes, chiles and pineapple to that list. Chiles did not figure in Indian, Thai, Chinese or Korean cuisine until well into the 17th century. Tomatoes were initially considered poisonous in some parts of Europe.
Well done Christopher Columbus!
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Old 08-22-2021, 12:24 PM   #5
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You can add beans (as in green beans), squashes, chiles and pineapple to that list. Chiles did not figure in Indian, Thai, Chinese or Korean cuisine until well into the 17th century. Tomatoes were initially considered poisonous in some parts of Europe.
Well done Christopher Columbus!
Yes. The history of how foods moved around the world is very interesting.
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Old 08-22-2021, 12:43 PM   #6
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Isn't it strange how with many plants, part if the plant is edible, while other parts are poisonous? With nightshades, like tomatoes and potatoes, the fruits are edible, while the leaves and stems are not. If allowed to sit in the sun, and turn green, the potato becomes poisonous. With rhubarb, the leaves are poison, with only the stalk being edible. Spinach, when consumed raw, inhibits the body's ability to absorb nutrients. Yet cooked, spinach is highly nutritious. And those are the obvious ones.

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Old 08-22-2021, 01:45 PM   #7
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Yup. Biochemistry is complex and fascinating.
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Old 08-29-2021, 06:18 PM   #8
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So maybe we should expand this to what is absent from a few other ethnic cuisines.

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Old 08-29-2021, 06:25 PM   #9
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Well, squash is noticeably missing from Scandinavian cuisine, so I never grew up eating squash. Zucchini is now not uncommon in Denmark, but they just call it "squash". I have never seen any other squash in a Scandinavian recipe.
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Old 08-29-2021, 06:31 PM   #10
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It makes you wonder, doesn´t it? We often associate Indian cuisine with fiercely hot curries; we´d never dream of making a pizza without a tomato sauce; the Irish potato famine decimated the population; the hamburger was late 19th-early 20th century in the US - and supposedly invented by a Danish woman.
Food for thought. Chiles, tomatoes, potatoes from South America. Hamburg Steaks from Germany. The mind boggles.
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Old 08-29-2021, 08:24 PM   #11
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And something I often wondered about - when and how did someone realize that nixtamalization of corn increases the nutritive values so much, that it was being done long before the new world was discovered. Yet, after corn was being grown extensively in the new world, it took forever (relatively speaking) for them to discover that the excessive consumption of untreated corn by some (their hogs were probably fed better than the farm workers!) was much of the reason for the outbreaks of pallegra. Was it just pure luck that the Aztecs (or whoever did this first) stumbled upon this method, trying different ways of skinning the corn, and loved the flavor?
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Old 08-29-2021, 08:53 PM   #12
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And something I often wondered about - when and how did someone realize that nixtamalization of corn increases the nutritive values so much, that it was being done long before the new world was discovered. Yet, after corn was being grown extensively in the new world, it took forever (relatively speaking) for them to discover that the excessive consumption of untreated corn by some (their hogs were probably fed better than the farm workers!) was much of the reason for the outbreaks of pallegra. Was it just pure luck that the Aztecs (or whoever did this first) stumbled upon this method, trying different ways of skinning the corn, and loved the flavor?
I have wondered about nixtamalization too. I figure some ash fell into some corn and someone tried to rinse it off. If it wasn't rinsed well enough, the ash and water would make lye. How did Scandinavians figure out lutfisk? That's where you soak dried cod in lye and then rinse many times before cooking it. I'm not sure of the exact process and I haven't had it.
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