Vanessa Quintanar, historian: “The potato was the American food that had the worst reception” | Culture | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Vanessa Quintanar (Madrid, 43 years previous), meals historian and visitor professor within the Master of Management and Innovation of Gastronomic Culture on the University of Cádiz, has simply revealed Cibus Indicus: American Foods within the Arts and Sciences of Early Modern Europe (Sixteenth-18th Centuries) on the Teatrum Naturae label. Behind this title lies the thrilling story of how American meals occupied an more and more necessary place in European artwork and literature. Velázquez, Cervantes, Quevedo, Tirso, Flemish masters, Goya seem… It is a piece that permits us to ponder portray in a totally completely different approach. The interview occurred this week within the Botanical Garden of Madrid and ended with a stroll by means of the Prado Museum the place, he maintains, “you can learn as much from food as from recipe books.”

Ask. To what extent did meals change in Spain and Europe after 1492?

Answer. It modified in any respect ranges. That is to say, it modified not solely as a result of new meals arrived, however the way in which of cooking was additionally remodeled. It was a problem for the women and men of that point who discovered meals that they didn't fairly know methods to match collectively. That is to say, it was not solely a matter of fabric, bodily, meals, but additionally of concepts.

P. Was it a really fast transformation?

R. It was fairly quick. There are meals like turkey, which was referred to as gallipavo, and that Columbus himself introduced when he returned. And we all know that, roughly, round 1515/17 they arrived in Italy. Birds at the moment had been thought-about the the best gastronomic, so turkey is nice information. They had been consuming swan or cormorant. I’ve by no means tried them, however I think that the turkey should be significantly better. The well-known chocolate was initially a type of secret of the Spanish Court. As historian Carmen Simón tells it, he hid within the jewellery field.

Four by Jan Brueghel the Younger 'Abundance' (1625), in the Prado Museum, in which numerous foods and animals from America appear.
Four by Jan Brueghel the Younger 'Abundance' (1625), within the Prado Museum, wherein quite a few meals and animals from America seem.INMA FLORES

P. Was it a treasure?

R. Absolutely. It was a present to kings or mother and father, or if a daughter obtained married in a international court docket, they despatched her chocolate. But in precept it was one thing very restricted. Then, little by little, he moved to the favored lessons. Although clearly the chocolate consumed by the court docket is just not the one consumed by the folks. And then there are the potato, corn or tomato. The literature of the Golden Age is a mine as a result of we not solely discover them; however they’re used to outline. Tirso de Molina, when characterizing the Galicians, talks about corn bread. O Quevedo mentioned that the Andalusians got here loaded with needs and potatoes.

P. In your e book, do you clarify that Quevedo and Gracián already speak about turkey?

R It is the one American animal that’s named in The Quijote. When Quixote and Sancho are speaking concerning the nobles' feasts, at one level Sancho assures me that “what I eat in my corner without fuss or respect, even if it's bread and onion, tastes much better than the gallipavos at other tables.” There can be speak within the seventeenth century of tomato and cucumber salad. That is, artwork is telling us that these meals are being consumed.

'Old Woman Frying Eggs', by Diego Velázquez, painting kept in the National Gallery of Scotland.
'Old Woman Frying Eggs', by Diego Velázquez, portray saved within the National Gallery of Scotland.

P. He additionally explains that Velázquez was the primary artist to color the pink pepper.

R. Rather than saying that it’s the first pepper represented, it might be the primary that I’ve discovered. It is the primary pepper clearly in its dietary operate, as a result of it seems in Flemish work as allegories of abundance. But within the case of Old lady frying eggs [cuadro de 1618 conservado en la Galería Nacional de Escocia] It is evident that it already has that operate there. One can be taught as a lot about meals by strolling by means of the Prado Museum as by studying recipe books.

P. Do you assume there may be one other time in historical past the place meals has modified as a lot in such a short while because the arrival of meals from America?

R. Historians often speak about three moments wherein gastronomy or meals was solid in Spain. The oldest is Rome, with the arrival of the vine, the olive tree and the wheat, that are just like the Mediterranean triad. Then, after all, there may be the Arab world, which brings so many issues, particularly from Asia: sugar, rice, citrus. And then it might be the incorporation of American meals. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, one other revolution occurred, not a lot within the elements, however within the transformation of these meals akin to ready meals or the know-how utilized to meals.

P. Do you assume that meals is a type of antidote to racism although meals is commonly used as a supply of nationalism?

R. It definitely appears to me that it’s a remedy for humility. That is to say, when one talks about Spanish gastronomy, in the long run it’s a combination of issues. Now that the subject of colonization and decolonization is so trendy, it appears to me that meals is a wonderful factor as a result of it was an trade wherein each events benefited. We obtain lots of meals, however we additionally carry many attention-grabbing issues with out which proper now gastronomy, for instance Mexican, wouldn’t be the identical, akin to beef or pork.

Now that the subject of colonization and decolonization is so trendy, it appears to me that meals is a wonderful factor as a result of it was an trade wherein each events benefited.

P. Which American meals had essentially the most issues?

R. Of all of the meals I’ve studied, the potato was the one which had the worst reception. It arrives later as a result of it isn’t within the space of ​​Mexico, however fairly happens within the Altiplano. He faces every kind of issues as a result of amongst different issues he’s from the household of solanum, which since historical occasions in Europe have had a really dangerous repute, like belladonna. Then there was a complete medical pattern that assimilated the form of the fruits with doable illnesses and it was mentioned that they transmitted leprosy. But, by means of the account books, it’s recognized that it was eaten, as a result of clearly folks weren’t squeamish, though it was formally animal meals. Above all, it is rather profitable within the north of Spain. Then, through the European famines, he saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals.

P. And when does gazpacho, one other usually Spanish meals with American elements akin to tomatoes and peppers, start to look within the portray?

R. I haven't seen it in artwork, though the tomato seems fairly early. But, firstly of the twentieth century, Emilia Pardo Bazán maintains in Old Spanish delicacies that gazpacho was a bracero soup, however that it’s now served on the king's desk. It is already a nationwide dish.

'A Dead Turkey', a painting by Francisco de Goya preserved in the Prado Museum.
'A Dead Turkey', a portray by Francisco de Goya preserved within the Prado Museum.

P. And when is the reminiscence of their origin misplaced they usually cease being unique meals and grow to be nationwide meals?

R. When I speak about this, I at all times use for example a portray from the Prado Museum, a useless turkey, by Goya. It is a small portray, which fits fairly unnoticed. It could be very attention-grabbing as a result of it’s a part of a collection of nonetheless lifes that he made concurrently the Disasters of conflict. I at all times use that portray, painted between 1808 and 1812, for example as a result of the turkey has gone from being an unique, uncommon animal to representing the massacred Spanish folks, which is a little bit of what it’s symbolizing with that collection. This turkey appears prefer it was killed. I see that image and I believe that this meals is already a part of the idiosyncrasy of the Spanish. I’d say it occurred at the moment, within the nineteenth century. And then these meals are now not simply a part of our gastronomy, however they had been its watchword.

All the tradition that goes with you awaits you right here.



The literary information analyzed by the perfect critics in our weekly publication


Subscribe to proceed studying

Read with out limits