America is a very culinary diverse country thanks in large part to the many immigrants that helped settle the land that we all call our own. Growing up in the Southern American states, I got use to a certain type of food and cuisine. We eat a lot of corn, sweet potatoes and pecans down here among other things! 🙂 And each area of America has its own distinct cuisine and styles of cooking.
As I thought more about it though, I started to wonder what foods the peoples before us, those who first populated this country before the immigrants and Europeans, ate. What foods did the Native Americans enjoy and preserve?
And I am so glad that I asked that question!
Because the more I researched, the more I found that Native American cuisine has influenced not only our own American foods, but the way the whole entire world eats!
Could you imagine Thai food without spicy peppers? How about Italian food without tomatoes? And potatoes are definitely Irish, right?
Every one of those foods now central to the culinary cuisine of another country was first found in the Americas! Before America was discovered by Christopher Columbus none of those foods were known to Europe or Asia! Over time, the process of sharing those different foods began in what is known in history as the Columbian exchange.
The Native Americans have contributed much to the food landscape of the world. Foods once unknown and uncommon like avocados, blueberries, peppers, tomatoes, squash, corn, beans, peanuts, potatoes, maple syrup, sunflowers, pineapples, sweet potatoes, papaya, vanilla and quinoa are now enjoyed the world over. I think I am most grateful that they shared the cocoa bean though! 🙂
Here is a great video about the importance of bringing back Native American cuisine!