Ancient Grains,  Culinary History,  Food History,  History

Unusual Grains From Other Cultures – Or When Corn Was New

Yes, that’s right, another post about these delicious ancient grains! But this time around, I want to dive a little deeper into the history of some of these ancient grains from other cultures.
For a long time, Europe subsisted on mainly wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt. When the Age of Exploration began and the bold seafaring captains began to sail bravely across the unknown oceans, they not only found new lands and peoples, but new foodstuffs as well. They brought back these food items to their own lands while simultaneously leaving behind some of their own foods in what became known later as the Columbian Exchange.
Indian corn, for example, was not widely eaten in Europe until after Columbus brought it back on his return voyage.
Different countries have their own “ancient grains”. Rye is to Europe, what corn is to the Americas and millet is to Africa and rice to Asia. But it is interesting to note that the grain that is most commonly associated with a continent in our modern times, was at one time unknown to those countries. Every grain has a long travel history between countries, nations and continents.
Besides these new “ancient” grains, more new grains are turning up every day! Maybe they are just the late adopters finally joining the ancient grain club. So, let me help introduce some of them. Have you heard yet of einkorn and emmer from the Mediterranean and Europe, fonio from Africa, or pinole from South America?

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