Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

  1. #1
    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Posts
    12,616

    Default What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    Italy has an enormous variety of foods and many seafood dishes to boot, but nevertheless the rest of the world associates Italy with almost nothing but either pizza or various pastas with red tomato-based sauce (lasagna, spaghetti, etc.). Particularly Bolognese sauce, or if not that, a white sauce like fettuccine alfredo. Or just your standard carbonara. However, the tomato wasn't even introduced to Europe until the 16th century, by way the Spanish colonies where the tomato was already a common ingredient in the meals of indigenous Amerindian peoples like the Aztecs. With that in mind, what was Italian food like before the tomato? Was it indistinguishable from other European cuisines of the late Middle Ages? Did medieval Italians have a choice of foods incredibly similar to the ancient Romans? The latter had quite a variety of foods available to them, even for the poor and the plebs. I'm not so sure about medieval Italy, although grapes and olives were still surely in abundance.

    Even the potato is a New World food item brought to Europe in the 16th century, meaning Italians wouldn't have had gnocchi in the Middle Ages either, and the Irish would have just been miserable. There was obviously lots of bread and thanks to the Romans many different forms of bread.

  2. #2

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    Beans are the potato of Southern Europe .

    Seriously though the most important part of the diet most likely were bread and various pastries, beans, olives, onions, and leek.

  3. #3
    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Posts
    12,616

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    At least they had onion, salt, honey, pastries, and butter, plus black pepper in limited quantities (originating in India, it was even more expensive in the medieval period than it was in ancient Greece and Rome). These I could live with if I were a medieval Italian.

    What would Mexican food be without beans? The latter was available in both the Old World and New World before the Colombian Exchange, though.

  4. #4
    neoptolemos's Avatar Breatannach Romanus
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Seirios,a parallel space,at your right
    Posts
    11,014

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    That's a very interesting question there mate.
    I suppose medieval Italian cuisine would have been based on the local indigenous and Mediterranean products, local traditions and influenced by the various people that migrated there.





    The Imperial Tagmatic Army Preview is out!!!!!




    TOTAL WAR HELLAS UNIT PACK V1.7 released-NEW MACEDONIAN,EPIROT PONTIC AND SELEUCID UNITS ARE HERE!!!!(CLICK)

    TOTAL WAR HELLAS SPARTA-ATHENS-PTOLEMIES AND BAKTRIANS released!!!! (click)

    "Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity".
    Hippocrates
    “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.” Hippocrates
    "Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are." Bertolt Brecht
    "The doctor sees all the weakness of mankind; the lawyer all the wickedness, the theologian all the stupidity." Arthur Schopenhauer
    "Nowadays historians generally agree that the Macedonian ethnos forms part of the Greek ethnos;hence they also shared in the common religious and cultural features of the Hellenic world"M.Opperman

    under the patronage of jimkatalanos
    .Proud member of the fellowship of CBUR project-TGC/proud member of East of Rome mod



    Quem faz injúria vil e sem razão,Com forças e poder em que está posto,Não vence; que a vitória verdadeira É saber ter justiça nua e inteira-He who, solely to oppress,Employs or martial force, or power, achieves No victory; but a true victory Is gained,when justice triumphs and prevails.
    Luís de Camões

  5. #5
    hellheaven1987's Avatar Comes Domesticorum
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    The Hell called Conscription
    Posts
    35,508

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    Probably just like Greek/Iberian food - a lot of fish, a lot of bread, a lot of cheese. By the way isn't paella has no tomato and potato?
    Last edited by hellheaven1987; March 04, 2015 at 09:39 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markas View Post
    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    Cameron is midway between Black Rage and .. European Union ..

  6. #6
    HigoChumbo's Avatar Definitely not Jom.
    Citizen

    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Granada, Spain.
    Posts
    3,197
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    Probably just like Greek/Iberian food - a lot of fish, a lot of bread, a lot of cheese. By the way isn't paella has no tomato and potato?
    Paella is actually the name of the pan in which the dish is made, and it comes from the latin word for pan, "patella", if that might shred some light on the origin and pressence of the dish before the influence of America. The dish originated in the Spanish Levant (around Valencia), though.

    Modern Paella does have tomato.

    That said, there are mentions of "Valencian style rice" as early as 1513, so it's pretty easy to assume the dish existed before the conquest of America and therefore with no tomato in it. But again, this has little to do with Italy (unless you take into account that Napoli, Sicily and Sardignia were part of the Aragonese crown, where Valencia is, and that both regions had huge remnants of roman culture, so there was most likely a heavy exchange of culinary influences).



    From the Wikipedia article on Medieval cuisine:

    The lucrative Mediterrenean trade in spices, silk and other luxuries from Africa and Asia were shipped on the galleys of the powerful city-states of Genoa, Venice and Florence, making them phenomenally rich. Medieval Italy, meaning primarily the northern Italian Peninsula, was one of the few regions in medieval Europe where the distinction between nobility and prosperous commoners were more or less irrelevant, the result of a significant, rich and self-conscious middle class. This meant that the level of culinary refinement and diversity was especially great when compared to the rest of the continent. Italian cuisine was, and still is, better described as a multitude of highly varied regional cuisines, each with long traditions and their own specialties. Italian dishes can therefore be considered either traditional or imported. Being the hub of a vast trade network meant that there was greater access to foreign luxuries to influence the local cooking. Still, there was a great deal of conservatism and in general far more of local Italian foodstuffs were exported to the New World than the other way around, though the impact of important products such as vanilla, corn, kidney beans, and of course, the tomato, which had a considerable impact on the cooking south of Naples, even if this transition took some time.[13]

    Many Italian staples and internationally recognized favorites were invented and refined during the Late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance; pasta was on everyone's dinner plate by the 13th century, though it was commonly made out of rice flour rather than durum wheat; pizza, the medieval Italian term for "pie", and tortes came in many varieties with a wide range of toppings, ranging from marzipan, and custards to chicken, eel, or even hemp; polenta made from French green lentils or barley; risotto; and a myriad of local or regional variants of sausage and cheese which was eaten by more or less everyone. As early as the Middle Ages, the cheeses, in particular, appear to have been highly specialized, from a fresh Tuscan to an aged Milanese from Tadesca, wrapped and shipped in tree bark. Medieval Italians also used eggs to a higher degree than many other regions, and the recipe collections describe herb omelettes (herboletos) and frittatas. Grapes as tasty morsels and lemons as a cooking ingredient was ubiquitous and, of course, olive oil of every conceivable kind was the cooking fat of choice in all regions, including the north, for dressing salads, frying, seasoning, marinading and preserving meats.[14]

  7. #7
    Praepositus
    Citizen

    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    5,635

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    Its interesting how much rice was eaten even in the middle ages. looking back to the classical age my impression of Roman cuisine is a lot of pork and beans was eaten.

    However there's been some important primary evidence presented by a French researcher...

    important primary source
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

  8. #8

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    Quote Originally Posted by krste View Post
    Beans are the potato of Southern Europe .

    Seriously though the most important part of the diet most likely were bread and various pastries, beans, olives, onions, and leek.
    But beans come from america aren't they ?

    I mean, i thought only broad beans (we call them fèves in french) come from the old world.
    I like them by the way, unlike many people i know and i would eat them more often if the meals from the new world weren't available, but they aren't exactly the same as the new world beans...

  9. #9
    neoptolemos's Avatar Breatannach Romanus
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Seirios,a parallel space,at your right
    Posts
    11,014

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keyser View Post
    But beans come from america aren't they ?

    I mean, i thought only broad beans (we call them fèves in french) come from the old world.
    I like them by the way, unlike many people i know and i would eat them more often if the meals from the new world weren't available, but they aren't exactly the same as the new world beans...
    Not all beans. For example in Greece lentils, faba vulgaris, lathyrus sativus were widely used so I supposed southern Italy would have them too





    The Imperial Tagmatic Army Preview is out!!!!!




    TOTAL WAR HELLAS UNIT PACK V1.7 released-NEW MACEDONIAN,EPIROT PONTIC AND SELEUCID UNITS ARE HERE!!!!(CLICK)

    TOTAL WAR HELLAS SPARTA-ATHENS-PTOLEMIES AND BAKTRIANS released!!!! (click)

    "Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity".
    Hippocrates
    “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.” Hippocrates
    "Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are." Bertolt Brecht
    "The doctor sees all the weakness of mankind; the lawyer all the wickedness, the theologian all the stupidity." Arthur Schopenhauer
    "Nowadays historians generally agree that the Macedonian ethnos forms part of the Greek ethnos;hence they also shared in the common religious and cultural features of the Hellenic world"M.Opperman

    under the patronage of jimkatalanos
    .Proud member of the fellowship of CBUR project-TGC/proud member of East of Rome mod



    Quem faz injúria vil e sem razão,Com forças e poder em que está posto,Não vence; que a vitória verdadeira É saber ter justiça nua e inteira-He who, solely to oppress,Employs or martial force, or power, achieves No victory; but a true victory Is gained,when justice triumphs and prevails.
    Luís de Camões

  10. #10

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    Quote Originally Posted by neoptolemos View Post
    Lentils, lathyrus sativus

    Ho you consider them as beans too. Ok then... In french they are called something else ("lentilles" and "pois"). But i know barely anything in botanic so...
    Last edited by Keyser; March 07, 2015 at 06:21 AM.

  11. #11
    neoptolemos's Avatar Breatannach Romanus
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Seirios,a parallel space,at your right
    Posts
    11,014

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keyser View Post
    How you consider them as beans too. Ok then... In french they are called something else ("lentilles" and "pois"). But i know barely anything in botanic so...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legume
    b : the seed of any of various erect or climbing plants (as of the genera Phaseolus and Vigna) of the legume family other than the broad bean
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bean

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicia_faba

    Vicia faba, also known as the broad bean, fava bean, faba bean, field bean, bell bean, or tic bean, is a species of bean (Fabaceae)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicia_faba

    The "beans" are the mainstay food in Greek diet something that exists for milenia and the Greek national food
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasolada
    Fasolada, fasoulada or sometimes fasolia (Greek: φασολάδα, φασουλάδα or φασολια) is a Greek and Cypriot soup of dry white beans, olive oil, and vegetables, sometimes called the "national food of the Greeks".[1]
    It originated in ancient Greece, where a sort of stew of beans, vegetables, and grains, with no meat, was used as food and sacrifice to Greek God Apollo at the Pyanopsia festival.[2][3][4][5][6][original research?]
    I am pretty sure that at least the South Italians would have been really close to GreekoRoman culinary traditions





    The Imperial Tagmatic Army Preview is out!!!!!




    TOTAL WAR HELLAS UNIT PACK V1.7 released-NEW MACEDONIAN,EPIROT PONTIC AND SELEUCID UNITS ARE HERE!!!!(CLICK)

    TOTAL WAR HELLAS SPARTA-ATHENS-PTOLEMIES AND BAKTRIANS released!!!! (click)

    "Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity".
    Hippocrates
    “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.” Hippocrates
    "Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are." Bertolt Brecht
    "The doctor sees all the weakness of mankind; the lawyer all the wickedness, the theologian all the stupidity." Arthur Schopenhauer
    "Nowadays historians generally agree that the Macedonian ethnos forms part of the Greek ethnos;hence they also shared in the common religious and cultural features of the Hellenic world"M.Opperman

    under the patronage of jimkatalanos
    .Proud member of the fellowship of CBUR project-TGC/proud member of East of Rome mod



    Quem faz injúria vil e sem razão,Com forças e poder em que está posto,Não vence; que a vitória verdadeira É saber ter justiça nua e inteira-He who, solely to oppress,Employs or martial force, or power, achieves No victory; but a true victory Is gained,when justice triumphs and prevails.
    Luís de Camões

  12. #12
    Dracula's Avatar Praefectus
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Greece
    Posts
    6,877

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    probably like in Greece. lots of olive products and fish.

  13. #13

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    @Neoptolemos

    Well i edited my post, i meant "ho !" and not "how"... Sorry

    Yes i know they were eaten in europe since ancien times, but in fact i meant i didn't consider them (other than the fava bean) as beans with my limited knowledge.

    As i said i don't know the classifications, just the vernacular names.

    In french things like beans, fava beans, lentils, peas etc are called "legumineuses" but each of the kinds i just enumerated are different. "beans" or "haricots" are just the new world varieties. That's why i didn't understood that you considerated the others as beans too at first.

  14. #14
    Mausolos of Caria's Avatar Royal Satrap
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    County of Ravensberg
    Posts
    5,549

    Default Re: What was Italian food like before the introduction of the New World tomato?

    Also, let's not forget about cakes. The Roman emperors and their relatives are always mentioned to consume a lot of cakes (in Sueton, for instance)! Such a placenta or libum would often contain raisins, cheese or almond and nuts. Though cakes without chocolate are pointless
    "Pompeius, after having finished the war against Mithridates, when he went to call at the house of Poseidonios, the famous teacher of philosophy, forbade the lictor to knock at the door, as was the usual custom, and he, to whom both the eastern and the western world had yielded submission, ordered the fasces to be lowered before the door of science."

    Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 7, 112

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •