General Discussion

British French Portuguese Spanish

Spain had a HUGE impact on its colonies' cuisine. Why didn't France?


General Discussion 123

Spain had a HUGE impact on its colonies' cuisine. Why didn't France?

Brian S | Mar 3, 2010 07:57 AM

Once upon a time, the sun never set on the Spanish empire. And even today, if you go to any city or even a tiny village that once was under Spanish influence, you can taste that influence in the food. In Latin America, that's obvious. Just one example is sofrito. That mainstay of Cuban and Dominican cuisine comes from Spain. But it's also true of, say, the Philippines. For culinary purposes, the Philippines should be considered part of Latin America. The biggest food influence on the Philippines is Spain. Kalderetang kambing, for example, is just like the goat stew you can get in any Dominican restaurant. This is also true of Portugal, and people in Angola eat stews and use marinades a lot like the Portuguese.

The main impact Spain and Portugal had on the world, though, was in bringing foodstuffs and recipes from one colony to another, or to Europe. Potatoes, tomatoes, cassava, chili... we owe all those to Spanish sailors. Some Chinese restaurants in New York offer "Portuguese style" dishes, and what you get is curry, a tribute to the Portuguese traders who brought curry dishes from India to Macao (and thence China) and Japan.

But Britain and France never had that impact on their colonies or on the world. I can't think of any English food that's popular in India or Africa. Perhaps one can understand that. But France, self-proclaimed center and apex of cuisine? French bread did catch on, you can buy baguettes in Algeria, Togo and Vietnam. But why didn't more French foods and cooking techniques spread to West Africa and Southeast Asia?

Want to stay up to date with this post?