it’s interesting watching SE Asians talking about their regional foods - what belongs to whom, who should be credited etc. given the centrality of the region to the global trade routes in spices and other commodities, it’s been a stomping ground for many centuries.
India, China, Spain, Portugal, Britain, Holland and France all had massive influences on the food cultures of the region. soya sauce, noodles, tofu from the Chinese. chilli and peanuts from the Portuguese. SE Asians from before 1500 would not have recognised what we eat today.
can anyone imagine Thai food without chilli that the Portuguese brought? the Malay-Indonesian word ‘kueh’ for steamed/baked snack treats is of Chinese origin. Filipinos love their versions of Spanish sweets. French origins of pho and banh mi are obvious.
even in the rest of Asia the influence is massive. South Indian, Sichuan, Hunan, Korean food without chilli? the Indians had no cheese until the Portuguese taught them to make it. tempura is an invention of Portuguese Jesuit priests. wheee
this talk of cultural appropriation is a distinctly modern obsession. would anyone 500 years ago have cared? i doubt it. they obviously went ‘ooh new things, let’s see what we can do with this’.
is there a ‘pure’ cuisine anywhere in the world? probably not. being able to afford and knowing how to use ‘new’ and exotic ingredients has always been a marker of those aspiring to be fashionable and affluent. there’s a reason empires have such great food - the interactions.
as humans we enjoy the experience pf discovering new foods. the only possible ‘pure’ cooking traditions are those of communities either too poor or too isolated for access to ‘new’ things. the uncontacted Sentinel and Amazon peoples probably have uninteresting food.
spices and silk - the two things that drove long trade routes across continents in the premodern period. even the ‘discovery’ of the new world was an accidental spin-off chapter in the story of industrial competition in the luxury trade.
i forgot the potato! this Peruvian tuber appears in Malay bergedil (actually Dutch frikkadel), pops up in multiple Indian dishes North and South, and is a staple of Northern Chinese home cooking.
the Pax Mongolica is probably responsible for everyone west of the Mongol regions having some form of dough-wrapped boiled/steamed dumplings. manti, pierogi, varenniki, khinkali, hingel, all come from Chinese 餃子. i wonder what other foods the Mongol Empire spread around.

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More from @infernoxv

27 Sep 18

a friend sent me this picture, asking me why a Chinese record has a 'made in India' marking. i told him the history behind this, and felt it might be of interest to Twitter.

busy day at office, will add to this thread through the day :)
the record was produced probably in the 1930s by the Shanghai Pathé Record Company, which was a subsidiary of the French Pathé Records. Pathé Records was founded by Charles Pathé, who also founded British Pathé (which did all the old news reels).
Pathé Records in France went under around 1930, but Shanghai Pathé continued and was taken over by British EMI. Shanghai Pathé in the 30s and 40s was THE recording company, with the rights to about 90% of Mandarin pop. the records (78s) were pressed at EMI's Asia HQ in Bombay.
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