Welcome Imposters

One of the books I'm currently reading is the very pleasant Wildwood - A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin. It's a terrifically somnolent tome which means it's taken me longer to read than normal, but it's well recommended.

The chapter I read last night dealt with his journey to Kazakstan to find the source of the ur-apple. I had never known until then that apples are not indigenous to the British Isles and were in fact introduced by the Romans. It's jarring to discover something that is so throughly, quintessentially woven into the fabric of our landscape and Britishness is actually an imposter. Much like my initial surprise on discovering that the chillis used in virtually every single asian dish actually hail from South America, and only in the last 400 years.
What did asian people eat before they had chillis?


Gaw said...

I feel the same about Italian cooking and tomatoes. It's difficult to imagine it without them.

Perhaps Asian cooking got some heat from ginger?

Susan said...

Perhaps before the chillis they ate soil? How are you getting on with Mailman by the way?

Apples ur us..

worm said...

just trawled the net to find that:

India previously used round black peppercorn and long pepper called Pippali in India for heat. After red chili peppers arrived in India, they took over and replaced the Pippali.

susan - haven't started it yet! Unfortuantely I have had to read ,digest and annotate 2 massive business books in the last two weeks in preparation for a talk I'm giving, so my precious reading time has been taken up with things I'm not actually interested in. Most unsporting

worm said...

Gaw - re. the italian tomato thing: I suppose they ate roman style stuff - loads of fermented anchovies.. :(

And another one: what did the pre-columbian irish eat before potatoes? Oats apparently, but they didn't grow very well in the wet climate, so it wasn't until the advent of the potato that the population had the required amount food to increase in size, meaning that the population was entirely dependent on one particular food source, leading to the well known chip and crisp shortage of the 19th century.

gosh I'm learning lots of new things today

Gadjo Dilo said...

What have the Romans ever done for us?? Apples. Cah. We surely perfected them though, with the Cox's Orange Pippin.

worm said...

I'm not an apple eater gadjo, but I trust your judgement on the COP, the name alone is most excellent

Brit said...

I like a Pink Lady meself.