What is the connection between Indian rice and Italian pasta? European merchants used to wrap fish in pepper while traveling by sea

Ananya Shroff
9 Min Read
What is the connection between Indian rice and Italian pasta? European merchants used to wrap fish in pepper while traveling by sea


New Delhi: It is said that the way to everyone's heart is through his stomach. The mantra of tummy to heart is to eat with a smile on your face. The best way to do this is to add a little sweetness of love along with salt to your food. Food has been used for centuries to improve mutual relations in the world. Today, words like kitchen diplomacy, culinary diplomacy, gastro diplomacy or food diplomacy have come into vogue. Food diplomacy is officially used in countries like America, India, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Israel, Cambodia, Thailand and Peru. Many important agreements are discussed at the dining table.

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The Portuguese brought tomatoes, peppers and potatoes

Today, there is hardly any house where tomatoes, chillies and potatoes are not used. These three are proudly displayed in every fridge. Small children are taught the first lesson of tomatoes from the tea and potatoes also become the king of vegetables and sing songs on YouTube kids channel. You will be surprised to know that even though these three rule your kitchen today, they were not present in India till 300 years ago. These three were brought by the Portuguese during the colonial period.

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The trend of culinary diplomacy began in the 21st century

The trend of culinary diplomacy or gastrodiplomacy started from the beginning of the 21st century. Scholars like Paul Rockover and Sam Chappel-Sokol made it popular. In 2002, an article was published in the Economist, titled – Thai Kitchen of the World Program. Both these words were mentioned in it. The trend of the word gastrodiplomacy started from an article published in a Taiwanese journal in 2011. Rockover and Chappel said in their article that relations between two countries can be strengthened through food. Kitchen diplomacy was seen in the Agra Summit of 2004, when the leaders of India and Pakistan gathered in Agra. It was food that broke the wall of silence between the two countries at that time.

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Marco Polo laid the foundation of relations between India and Italy

Cultural ties between India and Italy date back more than a thousand years, when Italian traveller Marco Polo travelled through Central Asia to reach India's Coromandel Coast. Marco Polo visited India in 1288-1292 during the Pandya rule of Madurai.

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Rice and pasta have formed a strong bond over the years

Just like rotis are eaten with gravy vegetables in North India, polenta and rice dishes are eaten in Northern Italy. Coconut chutney and delicious dishes made in its oil are famous in South India. Seafood is also eaten with great relish in South India. In South Italy, things made in olive oil are eaten. Fresh seafood is also a favourite of all. Today Italian pasta and pizza are favourites in every household in the world including India.

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Merchants used to travel by sea wrapping fish in spices

India's food is very rich in the world and is full of diversity. All kinds of spices have been used in the food here. Famous historian Ziauddin Barani has written that since the time of Indus Civilization, i.e. for 5 thousand years, fish wrapped in Indian spices were taken to Iraq-Iran and Europe. This saved these fish from getting spoiled.

India is feeding the world a dish made from millets

Last year, when the G-20 was held in India, India welcomed its foreign guests with products made from millets. Millet dishes were served to the guests. Vegetarian dishes included millet pudding, parathas, khichdi and pakoras served with curd and spicy chutney. Dr. Anita Bhatt, Professor of Political Science at Gargi College, Delhi University, has written in a research titled 'The Culinary Diplomacy: Enhancing India's Soft Power' that India has developed the use of food items to make itself a soft power in the world.

Kitchen diplomacy increases with the movement of ambassadors and travellers

Sugar, which we Indians dislike today and call the root of all ills, was also brought to India by the Portuguese. Before the use of refined sugar, we Indians used to sweeten our food with jaggery, fruits and honey. The visits of foreign ambassadors or the visits of traders from one country to another have been promoting food diplomacy.

Tandoori roti from refugees from Afghanistan

When Hindu refugees living in Afghanistan came to India, they brought a type of oven i.e. tandoor. This is why tandoori started being used in Indian cuisine.

After the arrival of the British, Indians became addicted to tea

Until 200 years ago, we Indians did not drink tea. During the British rule in the world, when China lost control over tea and sugar, the British started cultivating tea in the northeastern states. The British wanted to capture the tea trade, but they made us Indians so addicted to tea that today no one can get rid of it.

I've also gotten used to eating with a fork and knife

The arrival of the British was beneficial in the sense that Indian food started being discussed in other parts of the world. But they also taught us the modern way of eating. They taught us how to eat with a fork and knife while sitting at a dining table. Today, eating etiquette is taught even in the highest administrative services of the country.

The journey of Indian spices is more than 7 thousand years old

Food expert and historian KT Acharya writes in his book 'Indian Food: A Historical Companion' that food made from rice has been made in India from north to south. He explains that the form of idli made from rice that we see today actually came from Indonesia, where it was called Kedli. It is believed that about 1000 years ago when the Cholas ruled South India, the practice of rotting rice and making idli from it must have started.

A bloody war was fought between Britain, Portugal and France for spices

You will be surprised to know that when the era of enslaving countries began, the real war was fought over Indian spices. Many bloody wars were fought between Portugal, Spain, France, Holland and Great Britain to capture Indian spices, especially black pepper. This war started from the era of Indus Valley Civilization, when the trade of spices used to take place till Rome, Arabia and Mesopotamia i.e. Iraq.

Mughals' biryani is very famous, curd and saffron are used

Before the British, the biryani of the Mughal era was very famous. Although Columbus discovered the new world in the form of America for spices, the real success was achieved by Vasco de Gama, who brought Indian spices to Europe and America. The Mughals enriched the food of India even more. While using Indian spices in food, they added curd, roasted onion and saffron to it, due to which its fragrance reached outside India, which remains even today. The aromatic biryani of the Mughals is still very famous.

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