Food History

Watched 1492 – Globalization and Fusion Cuisines

Watched 1492 – Globalization and Fusion Cuisines from

Humanity’s desire for spices and other luxury items eventually connected the entire globe. Track the powerful trading empires of the Venetians and Portuguese, the Spanish conquest of the New World, and the “Columbian exchange”—where plants and animals from five continents were globally transplanted, changing eating habits around the world.

Hoopla (through the library) offers a week-long pass to The Great Courses, figured we’d check it out. Picked this episode because ‘New World’ and ‘Old World’ foods come up surprisingly often in my house.

Very much a lecture, professionally filmed and well-presented. Primarily shows the lecturer with added slides to highlight maps and images.

Exploration driven by the $$$$ spice trade, which was originally dominated by Venetians, who had a series of stopping points for transport across the Mediterranean. The Portuguese then took dominance.

I didn’t realize how important it was to exploration that the current in the Atlantic below the equator goes the opposite direction, so sailors could no longer hug the coastline but had to go out to sea and let the current carry them back around to land. This also led Portugal to “discover” Brazil by continuing sailing .

Columbus pitched like ALL the royalty (and got shut down) before Queen Isabella gave him the thumbs-up…influenced by Portugal “discovering” India. Yuck I didn’t realize her rule was behind the expulsion of the Jews.

1494 – Treaty of Tordesillas – Portugal “got” everything to the east, Spain “got” everything to the west –> Brazil speaks Portuguese, Spanish conquistadors in the rest of South America

Interesting globalization element — the Europeans were the connectors of many Old World and New World crops to many lands they were conquering and colonizing — for example the Spanish brought peppers from South America to the Philippines (and I think he said the Portuguese brought them to India), where they became quickly adopted because they were relatively cheap sources of “heat” in cooking (vs. spices which were very expensive).

Segment at the end challenging viewers to guess where different crops originated. I thought I was pretty in-the-know on foodstuffs but nope, I got a lot wrong! 😂 Pineapples were from the Caribbean, Columbus tasted them and tried to bring them back but they don’t transport well without refrigeration.


When is it no longer an emergency?

Bookmarked How to Live With Covid by Jonathan Rauch (Persuasion)

The emergency is over. It’s time to pivot to preparedness.

I am not convinced we are yet out of emergency stage. The number of people getting sick, dying, and becoming disabled from Long Covid is a toll yet to be fully judged.

The number of people unvaccinated worldwide is appalling considering we’ll keep getting more and more strains as so many remain susceptible to infection, and that the death rate is much higher for unvaccinated. Together that makes the perspective that the emergency is past feel pretty America-centric.

Maybe it depends what it means to no longer consider something an emergency – but the word itself conveys and musters urgency that is hard to maintain for “normal,” even a “new normal.” Will we lose urgency… how much urgency do we even have now? Does it matter how urgent the public thinks something is as long as the public health folks are hard at it? I feel like it does since the public judges spending and priorities and what politicians will spend their political capital on. It will be a mistake to forget that pandemic means global, and this is a situation where the worst level affects everyone’s level. (Network effect?)

As soon as we accept that this is how it will be, that we’re ok living like this forever, we lose the chance for a cultural conversation about what we should change to acknowledge the return to endemic disease like we had pre-1950s. Smallpox, measles, polio – we knew then these were unacceptable and worked to eradicate them to protect our people.

To me, the bare minimum our society should have to live forever with a deadly endemic disease includes universal healthcare and paid sick leave requirements. To not offer those knowing the disparity in health coverage and access and outcomes between class and race is frankly horrifying. We sacrifice the poor, Black, Hispanic, and indigenous on the altar of capitalism in the shrine of toxic individualism.


Will the Ever Given Crew Be Abandoned and Stranded for Years?

Bookmarked Crew Of ‘Ever Given’ Could Be Stuck On The Big Boat For Years by Erin Marquis (Jalopnik)

It is surprisingly common for ships and their crews to be stranded and sometimes abandoned due to disappearing owners, pay disputes and management troubles

This is heinous.

What is the equivalent in science fiction? Sailors stranded in their spaceships, but also workers abandoned and stranded on planets?