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How America Reshaped World Cuisine

Can you imagine Italy’s culinary without tomatoes? North, central and South America introduced key ingredients to the world, many of which are used by different cultures to cook their staple dishes. From potatoes to tomatoes and chocolate – find out what foods originated in America. 

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When people think of cuisine from around the world, they land on the pastas from Italy or the culinary techniques from France. They may think of the wonders of China or the simple tastes of Japan. They might even think of German or Russian or even Greek foods.

American cuisine, by contrast, is often ignored. Even when people think of American food, they point to hamburgers or Mexican fare.

What many savvy foodies forget is without the Americas, many of the foods associated with European fare would be impossible or would be vastly different from the culinary treats we enjoy today.

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There are many different recipes from around the world that would be impossible without key ingredients from the Americas. Tomatoes, potatoes, chocolate, vanilla, pineapple, papaya, chili peppers, corn, peanuts, and avocados all originated in North and South America.

Think of all the cultures and national cuisines that integrate these ingredients. It’s nearly impossible to think of Italy without tomatoes in their pastas and pizzas. What about Irish or Polish food without potatoes? What about the many different types of Chinese cuisine featuring peanuts? Without the American continents, these dishes would be very different.

Beyond food, these contributions reshaped the world. Tens of thousands of people fled Ireland during the 19th and 20th century. They left due to a shortage of potatoes, a crop originally from Argentina. These immigrants fled to the United States, Canada, and South America. These individuals reshaped the areas they settled, such as New York City, Chicago, and Boston. Without potatoes, this may not have ever occurred.

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Chili peppers were used as medicine for ailments in Europe. The tropical regions of the globe became pepper farms to supply the demands of Europeans cooks and doctors. Chili peppers were used to treat colds, flu, sore throats, nasal congestion, and colicky babies.

Even today, chili peppers are used in medicines. In other areas, powder from chili pepper is used to make candy, owing to a natural sweetness in the pepper.

Avocados are slowly altering the diets of people in various areas. Avocados have been found to be a healthy fat, replacing animal products in key districts. For vegans and vegetarians, these healthy fats are important for regulating a healthy weight and diet.

These products are being grown in areas where other products do not fair as well. Avocados are currently being shipped with rice and wheat to nations in Africa by the United States and Canada for relief aid.

American cuisine may be an afterthought for many chefs and culinary students around the globe. They may focus on the high scale cooking of France or the surgical precision required to prepare Japanese cuisine. Without America’s contributions to the global food supply, many national dishes would be dramatically different than they are today.

Featured Image Photo Credit: <a href=””>Avocado</a> by Petr Kratochvil

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