Time to celebrate Columbus Day and the New World foods

Christopher Columbus, one of the most famous explorers in history. In Italian, his name is Cristoforo Colombo and in Spanish it was Cristòbal Colòn. The exact date of his birth is not known, but it has been traced before the 31st of October 1451. He was born in in the Republic of Genoa, which, in the modern days, is the city of Genoa. When he was young, one of his first jobs was being a trader and it is here that he started to sail the seas. He also wanted to use his knowledge from what he learnt at school such as geography, languages and astronomy. He started to think of wanting to find another water route to Asia where he can buy and trade the India/Asian silk and spices. Columbus believed, instead of sailing east as many did, thought that he could sail west to find a shorter passage to the Asian continent.

To fund this voyage Columbus went first to the king of Portugal but, unfortunately, the king refused. Seeing the refusal, he decided to go to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella for the money. Upon hearing his ideas for a new passage, the royal family funded his voyage.

On the evening of the 3rd of August, 1492 he sent sail for the new journey with three ships the Pinta, the Nina and the Santa Maria. The first place his expedition landed was on San Salvador and as he first saw the inhabitants, he called them Indians because he thought of having arrived in India. On continuing his voyage, he discovered also Cuba and Hispaniola. While on the islands he sought gold and traded with the local natives, but what was of most importance were the foods of the new world. Columbus discovered and brought back to Europe new vegetables and fruits. They were called the “New world” foods and there were many, and they are listed, below:

  • Corn
  • Potato
  • Tomato
  • Bell pepper
  • Chili pepper
  • Vanilla
  • Tobacco
  • Beans
  • Pumpkin
  • Cassava
  • Avocado
  • Peanut
  • Pecan
  • Cashew
  • Pineapple
  • Blueberry
  • Sunflower
  • Petunia
  • Marigold
  • Wild rice
  • Cacao (known as Chocolate)
  • Squash

These vegetables and fruits have become essential ingredients in many of the national dishes of the European nations. Some of the vegetables are also widely produced and some nations such as Italy, is famous for exporting tomatoes, beans and bell peppers. Tobacco now is also produced in Europe and the main producers are Italy, Bulgaria, Greece and Spain. Colombus opened the Old continent to the New World and in doing so gave the European cuisine the opportunity to come into contact with new ingredients that would be appreciated by many.

The holiday, Columbus day, in America is considered a time to celebrate the American-Italian heritage. The first time it was celebrated was in New York City on October 12, 1866. Only in April 1934 the holiday was considered a national holiday and is celebrated in many cities. One famous parade is that of New York City on Fifth avenue. Here you can see musical performances by many bands from around the world and floats parading down the streets. Another famous celebration is the San Francisco Columbus day parade.

Alfa Pizza wants to wish everybody, a Happy Columbus day.