Would Christopher Columbus have enjoyed a Hershey bar? Before the discovery of the New World, the Old World had never heard of chocolate. (Krieg Barrie)

Would Christopher Columbus have enjoyed a Hershey bar? Before the discovery of the New World, the Old World had never heard of chocolate. (Krieg Barrie)

Tacos make versatile dinners, blending elements from many cultures into one tasty package.

Tacos make versatile dinners, blending elements from many cultures into one tasty package.

Corn is native to North America, which is where European settlers first encountered it.

Corn is native to North America, which is where European settlers first encountered it.

These spices come from all over the world, and some might live in your kitchen cabinet!

These spices come from all over the world, and some might live in your kitchen cabinet!

The World Is a . . . Taco?

Posted: July 1, 2020

The huge variety of taco flavors in America remind us: America is a “melting pot” where many cultures come together to form one. But maybe it’s better to call America a tossed salad . . . or even a taco! Different cultures don’t melt into each other and disappear. They mix together and make things taste better . . . literally.

America isn’t the only spot in the world where cultures mix. Mexico was its own melting pot—er, taco—to begin with. Think about the tortilla. Some people snub tortillas made from wheat flour. They say historical Mexican tacos are made with Mexico’s original staple food, corn. But all kinds of people move in and out of Mexico. Some did so even before the United States existed. Example: Jewish people migrated to the Texas-Mexico border region in the 1500s. Jewish people don’t eat pork, and Mexicans made corn tortillas with pig lard. Corn was hard to grow in northern parts of Mexico. The migrants, who were used to eating flat pita bread, invented their own recipe—wheat tortillas with no lard.

Food on the Move

Ever heard of beans? Corn? How about tomatoes, pineapples, vanilla, and chocolate? Of course you have. But Christopher Columbus hadn’t. Before he came to America, no one in Europe had heard of them either. Meanwhile, Native Americans had never seen the sight—much less eaten a bite—of beef, rice, sugar, or wheat.

Check your kitchen for world foods. Throughout history, travelers from Africa spread yams, peanuts, chili peppers, and molasses. From Asia came cumin, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. Do you have dill, garlic, olives, or rosemary in stock? These likely originated in Europe or the Mediterranean. Cinnamon, pine nuts, mangos, and yogurt got their start in India.

When people move, they bring their food cultures with them and pick up new ones as they go. Is this a good thing? We think so. The more delicious food, the better!

Go, eat your bread with joy. — Ecclesiastes 9:7