If you’re a food lover, you’ll be fascinated to discover where some of the world’s most iconic foods come from. Sure, there’s nothing more British than a meal of fish and chips, but did you know its origins started in sunny Spain and Portugal?
As a nation, Britain regularly enjoys treating their taste buds to a wide variety of flavours from across the globe. The world travel experts at Explore have discovered how ten of the world’s most popular ingredients and dishes migrated from unlikely corners of the world to your plate. While not an exhaustive list, these dishes certainly have the most interesting origins!
- Chilli Peppers
Used in spicy dishes around the world, this fiery ingredient was a staple in Peru and Mexico before migrating to Spain, India and East Asia during the Columbia Exchange in 1943. Part of the human diet since 7500 BC, chillies were originally used in Spain to treat medical ailments.
Chances are you’ve all enjoyed a bowl of vanilla ice cream at some point but did you know that the world’s second most expensive spice after saffron originated in Guatemala and Mexico? Brought to the shores of Europe in the Fifteenth Century by Hernan Cortes, it’s currently in such high demand that it now costs more than silver.
Originally grown in South America, the popular staple ingredient made its way to Europe, North Africa, and Asia during the Colombian Exchange. Ever wondered how the humble tomato got its name? The house Steward of the Duke of Florence described it as a ‘pomi d’oro’. Did you know tomatoes were also grown as ornaments in Italy?
- Fish and Chips
Britain’s favourite dish can be traced back to the shores of Spain and Portugal. In the Seventeenth Century immigrants travelling through Europe brought it to the UK. If you want to visit Britain’s longest running fish and chip shop, you’ll be pleased to know it’s still in operation in Yeadon, near Leeds.
Another classic example of a popular British dish, vindaloo is actually a Portuguese dish which migrated to the Goa region of India in the Fifteenth Century. Regularly served in a wide range of curry-houses in Britain, this ‘typical’ Indian dish traditionally uses pork, but modern recipes also use chicken, mutton, or vegetarian ingredients. The name ‘vindaloo’ even derives from the Portuguese phrase ‘carne de vinha d’alhos’, which translates to ‘meat in garlic wine marinade’.
- French Fries
Although they’re hugely popular in the USA, you’d be mistaken if you thought that’s where French fries originated. Similar dishes were served in Belgium and France for years before they made their way across the pond to fast-food chains in the UK and USA during the 1940s. American president Thomas Jefferson was said to have served them to his guests at a White House dinner party in 1802.
Doughnuts are among the US and UK’s favourite treats – there’s even a National Doughnut Week! With distant origins in Ancient Greece, the most likely lineage of the humble doughnut can be traced back to the shores of New York in 1847, when Dutch settlers arrived in the New World.
Ever wondered where this sweet treat came from? You may be surprised to learn that it first appeared in Greece in 1872 before making its way to the USA, where it has become one of the most popular desserts in the country. You wouldn’t necessarily equate cheesecake as a health food, but did you know it was served to athletes during the first Olympic Games in Athens as a source of energy?
Everyone’s favourite caffeine pick-me-up travelled from North Africa and Ethiopia, bound for the USA and Europe in the Sixteenth Century. Widely known around the world as the most traded commodity, it was later introduced to South America in 1727. For a tasty cup of Joe, try Gokotta Coffee, an artisan coffee brand, roasted in the UK.
10. Scotch Egg
Unlike the name suggests, the humble Scotch egg didn’t originate from Scotland. A staple in any British picnic, this dish has roots in India and North Africa, where similar dishes have been traced. The tasty snack first appeared in the UK around the Nineteenth Century, when the quintessentially British department store Fortnum and Mason claimed it as their invention. Did you know, early recipes from the seaside town of Whitby used fish paste instead of meat?
Experience masterfully created flavours for yourself, and discover the top 5 European countries for an unforgettable foodie holiday.