Is any food actually geographically authentic? That’s the question that’s pondered in this episode of Universal Eats. Because as it turns out, when it comes to food, it’s all about cultural exchange and fusion. While certain foods are synonymous with specific cultures, there’s usually a long history of colonization, migration, and/or slavery behind it.
Think about it. While tomatoes are thought to be a staple of Italian cooking, they’re actually not native to Europe at all. And when it comes to the American South, rice and okra are the backbone to so many recipes. However if it wasn’t for the African slave trade, neither of those foods would have developed their current reputation as Southern classics.And it’s not just ingredients that undergo culture swaps; it’s entire recipes, agricultural methods, and technological advancements that get transferred and shifted as they move across maps.
In the video above, watch as multiple chefs, historians and culinary experts discuss the fascinating origins of some of your favorite meals, like gumbo (It’s based entirely on a Senegalese soup!) and adobo, which fuses Spanish and Chinese influences to make a uniquely Filipino dish. There’s a lot of food for thought in the entire piece and it is sure to have you questioning any previous assumptions you may have had about the supposed authenticity of your next bite.
Be sure to check out previous installments of Universal Eats on Chowhound. We’ve previously explored the history and cultural ubiquity of dumplings, frozen desserts, and porridge, all of which are delicious and fascinating in their own right!
Chowhound’s Universal Eats is a new video series that explores foods that transcend cultures and borders around the world to globally to connect us all. Episodes will premiere every Tuesday on Facebook Watch, so be sure to follow our page to catch each installment.