Three sisters Stew
This dish takes its name from an ancient agricultural technique, where squash/pumpkin, corn and beans were companion planted together to ensure fertility, resilience and reduce the labour required. This technique was used by many indigenous people but especially Native peoples form the central and Eastern regions of North America.
There are many different versions of this dish you can find, many insist that nixtamalized (alkali treated) corn is the only appropriate ingredient to use as it was the only way many indigenous people in the Americas consumed corn for millennia. However, while researching I discovered that the first variety of sweetcorn was actually bred by the first nations group now known as the Iroquois league. Sweetcorn likely evolved not just because it is sweeter but also tends to be harvested while still “milky”, that is before the ear dries out. Therefore, it was likely used as an easy source of energy to consume while other plants were harvested and preparations were made for the Winter. Finally, I’ve chosen to include onions in the recipe even though they are not native to the American continent. However, “ramsons”, a variety of wild onion from N. America, which was used by indigenous people as a source of food and medicine but is now under threat in much of its native range.
Beans (Kidney, Pinto etc.)
Chilies fresh and dried
Additional note: When recording the recipe I was experimenting with including ginger in the recipe as some indigenous people used a wild variety of this in their food. However, I’ve since found evidence to suggest this was not likely done in areas where the three sisters was used.
This dish is from Tuscany and is said to have originated as a way servants in the kitchens of the nobility fed themselves by using up bread that food had been served on and leftover soup. The dish is thought to have been popularised across the region when a tax was put on salted bread and this was a popular way to consume the less appetising unsalted bread. The recipe would likely have been quite different until the Colombian exchange brought tomatoes, courgette, potato, and beans to Europe.
Aromatic herbs- marjoram, thyme rosemary etc.
This food is now an intrinsic part of one of the national pastimes of South Africa, braai (barbeque). Its origins are said to be from the multi- ethnic townships of Johannesburg . Where workers of Mozambican descent created a spice sauce with tinned vegetables and peri-peri spice to add flavour to carbohydrate rich staples like bread and pap (a cornmeal porridge).
Red, Green and yellow peppers
Rice, although from Asia, was not always the main staple in what is modern day China. However during the Song dynasty that reigned much of China a millennia ago, there was a massive expansion in the economy, population, and productivity of much of the empire due to a tribute of Champa rice from an area now part of modern day Vietnam. This rice variety has a different life cycle and allows two harvests in one growing season. In the same period in the empire there were strict “sumptuary” laws which dictated what kinds of culture different classes of people were allowed to consume, including food.