I finished the first of my stack of research notes for Corazon III over the weekend: John Super’s exceptional little book, Food, Conquest, and Colonization in Sixteenth-Century Spanish America. It’s only 88 pages before notes, and it’s not a cook’s book – it’s far more economics-oriented. But it’s very revealing, and particularly in:
- The Old World foods that the Spanish were most invested in bringing to the colonies, the spread of Old World foods through markets and agricultural records;
- The New World foods that the Spanish adopted most readily, and the class and race issues around the adoption of certain foods;
- The economics of agriculture in the colonies from 1600-1800, and how climate and landform affected the differences between what was grown in different areas (and what was grown in the colonies vs. Europe).
It’s very helpful in making educated guesses about what the fusion landscape would have been in the late 16th century, vs, say, the mid-18th century – what foods had already become what would later be the distinctively Mexican/Central American/South American cuisines, and what did not become integrated until much later. What “plausibly period” looks like in this context.
Next up: re-reading Sophie Coe’s excellent America’s First Cuisines and Charles Mann’s 1493. Both of these are background reads – Coe has some post-colonial material but basically her treatment is of pre-contact Native American foods, and I can’t remember how much Mann touches on food at all but he does talk a great deal about daily life.
Peanut marzipan! Goat and venison in the tasting course! SO MUCH MEAT. Fresh fruit is a GO – I worried about this; I know that fresh fruit wasn’t a thing in much of period in Europe, but no, multiple sources are clear that the arriving Europeans were dazzled and entranced by tropical fruit. Yeasted wheat bread, not tortillas. Time to go back and re-read Diaz del Castillo.