Food is something that’s always changing and evolving. However, some meals have their roots in dishes that were invented centuries ago. These are heritage dishes from all over the world that continue to be enjoyed by people today, and will no doubt continue to be enjoyed hundreds of years in the future.
The ancestor of the modern pizza was a simple piece of flatbread spread with olives, some herbs and cheese. It was a convenient food for Italian peasants who took it out to the fields as a handy lunch. Soon the pizza was topped with other ingredients like tomato sauce, which was considered food for poor people as the tomato was thought to be a poisonous plant.
Today, the humble pizza can be found anywhere in the world, with plenty of toppings that are considered non native to its Italian origins. These include anchovies, pineapples and even broccoli.
2. Hot Pot
Hot Pot, also known as Steamboat in certain parts of the world is a simple but hearty dish. It’s a simple dish of a boiling soup where various ingredients of meat, seafood and vegetables are cooked on the table itself. The hot pot has its origins in and around China.
It is said that the practice of cooking meat in boiling water started with Genghis Khan’s armies. To keep their load light during military campaigns, they carried no cooking utensils. To cook their food, they would overturn helmets and fill them with water to boil meat that they had hunted.
Nowadays, the hot pot has become an essential element in many gatherings, especially in certain Asian cultures. The soup has evolved from just plain water to various broths, flavored with herbs, spices and chilies.
3. Noodles and Pasta
You may not know this, but noodles are more than 4,000 years old. Archaeologist have found evidence of noodles kept in earthenware jars in many sites in China. The first recorded history of noodles is found in an ancient text from the Han Dynasty ( 206 BC to 220 AD).
The earliest noodles were made of millet flour and later on, wheat flour was used. The dough was usually hand pulled and came out as long strands. Usually the noodles were fried or eaten in a broth. Legends has it that the trader Marco Polo was the first person to bring the concept of noodles to Italy where they were called pasta.
Today, noodles can be found in many countries in East Asia, Central Asia, Europe and even South America. All of them with their own unique recipes.
Today, tofu is considered a health food that’s a rich source of protein for vegans and vegetarians. Tofu making can be traced back to China during the Han dynasty about 2,000 years ago. It’s discovery was attributed to a certain Lord Liu An, who was a Han prince.
However, food historians believe that tofu may have been discovered by accident even before that, when soy milk was boiled with impure sea salt that contained alkaline elements. Tofu soon caught on in Japan and Korea too, as well as in Indochina and South East Asia where Buddhism discouraged the consumption of meat.
Curries have been around for at least 4,000 to 5,000 years with archaeological evidence of spices being ground in many historical sites. Curries have definitely evolved over time, with many herbs and spices being discovered and added as time went on.
In India and its surrounding countries, every region has its own specialty. Usually curry contains spices like fennel, cumin, coriander, cloves and others with a healthy helping of chilies. Nowadays, everyone all over the world enjoys curries over a hot steaming bowl of rice or with some warm bread, like naan or roti.
Kimchi is a Korean pickled cabbage dish that’s sour and spicy. The Koreans have it as a condiment to every meal, including breakfast. It’s made by rubbing a mixture of salt and chili powder on the leaves of fresh Napa cabbages, also known as Chinese cabbages. The cabbages are then allowed to ferment for up to several months.
Each Korean family has their own unique little Kimchi recipe, where they add various ingredients like spring onions, ginger, grated pears, shrimp and perhaps grated carrots to the salt and chili powder mix. Kimchi and other pickled foods were developed as a way to preserve food in times of plenty. Similar foods include Sauerkraut from Germany and Giardiniera from Italy.
Dairy products date back to at least 2,000 years ago with the early butters made with goat’s or sheep’s milk. Cattle would not be included as a farm animal until 1,000 years later. However, during the Roman Civilization, butter was considered food for the lower classes and barbarians.
Butter was thought to have medicinal uses, and in general it came about as a way to maximize and preserve the nutrients in milk. Both cheese and butter are high in fat, which was crucial as a rich source of energy for the largely agrarian communities of the past whose work day revolved around heavy labor.
This may come as a surprise to you, but this favourite cinema snack is actually thousands of years old. Corn was first domesticated in the American continent ( more specifically around Mexico) about 9,000 years ago. It didn’t take long for the indigenous tribes to figure out that subjecting corn kernels to high heat will make them puff up.
In the past, popcorn was eaten plain as part of a main meal. However, it’s popularity as a snack grew in the 1890s as popcorn street vendors began to appear in the American Midwest. Nowadays, popcorn is eaten with sugar, butter, powdered cheese, chocolate, nuts and a whole lot of other condiments.
It’s clear that humans have always been foodies, and that there will always be those who will experiment with ingredients to make them taste better than ever before. Creating new and exciting cuisine is definitely on the top of the list of human achievements, along with the rise and fall of civilizations in history.