Which country's modern cuisine most resembles its cuisine a six hundred years ago?

I’ve actually been thinking about posting this thread for awhile now, and with the influx of country-cuisine topics it seems as good a time as any.

Basically, which country’s dominant cooking trends are the least changed by globalization? It’s easy to point at the cuisines that have changed significantly: Ireland has potatoes, Italy has tomatoes, and so many of the spicy Asian cooking styles have New World peppers. But surely some country has stayed a bit truer to their pre-Columbian contact roots- right?

Maybe somewhere in Africa?

Eurasian countries use potatoes and New World peppers, American countries use Old World cereals, all in their typical dishes.

What I don’t know is whether “yams for breakfast, yams for lunch and yams for dinner” consitutes much of a cuisine.

(Disclaimer: that line is paraphrased from my great-grandfather’s description of his own childhood in NW Spain and I do know that what the people in Domund ads eat isn’t necessarily representative of the wider community)

I would tend to think what is called the Cretan diet (mediterranean cuisine), probably hasnt changed that much. But since the OP talks about Pre-Colombian maybe he meant cultures that had a distinctive cuisine and how much of it survived the encounter with the Western world, and the ensuing globalization.

Going to the other extreme, any resemblance between North American cuisines in 1411 and 2011 are all but coincidental. :slight_smile:

I’m a she, actually. I use Pre-Columbian because it’s an easy shorthand for “before everything got to how it is now, far enough back ago that there wasn’t significant contact between the Old and New Worlds- sorry, Norse explorers, but you didn’t leave a lasting culinary impact in North America- but not so far back that it was what we think of as ‘caveman’ food.”


(Apart from Iron Chef Morimoto, of course).


ETA: Yeah. Like they had pigs back then.

Definitely not Hawaii. Hawaiian cuisine is very, very different from what it would have been 600 years ago. It’s very influenced by the many cultures who have immigrated there over the last century or so, especially the other island cultures (including Japan.)

I would guess that it will be a third world culture that still eats what it’s ancestors ate because imported foods cost too much. Somewhere in central Africa or the poorer regions of Asia.

you mean besides bushmen, aborigones, and amazonian hunter-gatherers? i don’t really know. tomatoes have really infiltrated everything.

Good point. I was thinking that kailua pig is very old and traditional, but it obviously doesn’t pre-date the introduction of pigs into the region.

How about Eskimos/Inuit?

The Japanese didn’t eat meat until the Meiji emperor decreed that they should in the late nineteenth century, whereas they now eat 44 kilo (97 pounds) of it per capita annually as of 2002. (Americans ate 125 kilo per person that year, but 44 kilo is an awful lot more than nothing.) They’re also really big on packaged goods.

I know that although it might have been eaten as far back as the 8th century, sushi has changed a lot over the years, starting out as fermented fish, and then moving to being pickled in vinegar. I believe modern raw fish sushi didn’t become standard until the 19th century.

They did. But they didn’t have Spam!

Didn’t a lot of African cuisines change after British/etc colonisation? For example, they took corn over there after getting it from the US. Was there any part of Africa that wasn’t colonised by Europeans?

Mongolian cuisines might be a possibility.

That area of the world didn’t have tomatoes 600 years ago. Pre-Columbian is relevant because it changed the cuisines of the colonising countries so much as well as changing the cuisine of the the Americas.

Another vote for NOT Japan. A lot of common Japanese dishes were developed in the 19th or 20th century. These aren’t necessarily things you’d ever see in a Japanese restaurant outside Japan, but at home and in family restaurants the Japanese eat things like omurice (fried rice omelet with ketchup) and Japanese curry (adapted from the British, who adapted it from India). And as already mentioned, any Japanese dish with meat that isn’t seafood must have been developed or modified since the late 19th century.

I don’t know much about the cuisines of Africa, but I think modern Ethiopian food makes use of potatoes and peanuts. Both come from the New World.

Considering the number of new food sources that arrived from South and Central America, some country there may be the winner. Peru still keeps many traditional dishes, but they also use shrimp heavily, and I don’t know if the Incans went out to sea to get them. Maybe they can be netted from the shore. Mexican food is heavily based on corn, tomatoes, and peppers. But they also use a lot of cheese that in modern times comes from European cattle. Resolving which* most *resembles it’s precursors is going to be a tough call since there may be nothing that is unchanged.

I think the answer is probably Eskimo cuisine.

Probably not. Cassava and maize are the major staples through much of Africa. Tomatos and hot peppers are important seasonings. Beans are occasionally important to some cuisines. And of course many, many widely consumed tropical fruits are new-world plants.

I honestly don’t think you will find any cuisine that wasn’t massively changed by new world plants.

What do you think Eskimos eat nowadays?