The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 7 | Issue 18 | Number 2 | Article ID 3135 | May 01, 2009
Asia’s Contributions to World Cuisine
Asiaâ€™s Contributions to World
Sidney W. Mintz
The movement of food ingredients, cooking
methods and dishes across the earthâ€™s surface
is ancient, and in large measure only poorly
recorded. While the West has documented its
contributions to global cuisine, those of the rest
of the world are less well recognized. This
paper takes note of Asiaâ€™s role in enriching the
worldâ€™s foods, both nutritively and in terms of
diversity and taste.
If any of us were asked — in the classroom, or
during a radio interview, for instance —
whether Asia had made any significant
contributions to a global cuisine, I am certain
that all of us would answer spontaneously, and
in approximately the same manner: â€˜Absolutely.
Asia has contributed enormously to a global
cuisine.â€™ Despite what would probably be our
unanimous agreement, this exploratory paper
demands that the reader accept provisional
definitions of two relevant terms, because the
question itself is actually so vague. One term
concerns the boundaries of Asia; the other, the
meaning of â€˜global cuisineâ€™. How we delimit
and define Asia is open to arguments, both
broad and narrow; and precisely what is meant
by â€˜global cuisineâ€™ is similarly unclear. I am not
by training an Asia specialist, and here I begin
with my own quite tentative answers.
For the purposes of this paper only, I take
â€˜Asiaâ€™ to mean East and Southeast Asia; the
northern border states of the Indian
subcontinent; and Myanmar, Mongolia, Tibet,
and China I intend to deal with food systems
that fall within the region as I have arbitrarily
defined it here. In drawing what are meant as
provisional boundaries I have in mind not so
much political systems, as limits set by
ecological and cultural factors, which have
shaped cuisines over time. Foods and cooking
methods can become deeply rooted locally,
even without political or religious pressures.
They can also diffuse widely, and sometimes
quickly, without regard to political boundaries.
Group food behavior, like group linguistic
behavior, seems to follow rules of its own.
By â€˜world cuisineâ€™ or â€˜global cuisineâ€™, I really
have in mind a process, more than a stable
system. That process is now nearly continuous
and ongoing, but it is also surprisingly ancient.
World food history has involved the gradual but
uneven spread of plants and animals, foods and
food ingredients, cooking methods and
traditions, over larger and larger areas, often
penetrating and sometimes blending with local
food systems, which vary in their openness â€“
and the effects of that spread. This process has
gone on intermittently for millennia.
Interpenetration of local food systems, which
now takes place on a world scale, at times with
great speed, has its roots in the past. The
current vogue for global analysis ought not to
blind us to the ancient history of this
phenomenon. Probably of equal importance
today is the common disappearance â€“ of
species, of other resources, sometimes of whole
religions, languages or peoples â€“ and the
consequences, often known only imperfectly, if
at all, for localized food systems. In any event,
my rough approximations here, both of Asia
and of the global system, are certainly
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arguable. Admittedly, it is only by being so
arbitrary that I am able to proceed at all.
Students of Asian food may find instructive a
wonderful passage in Andersonâ€™s The Food of
China (1988: 117-18), where he describes the
production of wheat in ancient China in relation
to wheaten products (bread, dumplings,
noodles), both there and in neighboring lands.
In a few brief paragraphs, Anderson exposes
the wheat-related methods and substances, and
the words to describe them, embedded in
complex relationships of exchange and
invention, distributed over a vast area that
stretches from northern China to southern
Europe. Much of this complex of wheat-related
culinary culture was probably developed
several millennia ago. Though Anderson is
writing primarily of China, in this description
â€˜Asiaâ€™ and â€˜Europeâ€™ are not separate entities,
but an enormous patchwork of neighboring
peoples, some of them migratory, some
invasive, who took and gave, both what they
grew and what they cooked, over the course of
There is no doubt that some regions — because
of their native richness in food resources;
because the cultures in them had developed
particularly effective means of aggregating and
tapping those resources; or because food itself
proved to be a central interest to people
culturally, beyond matters of nutrition â€“ have
contributed more to the global culinary
repertory than others. But at least as important
as autochthonous or local developments have
been the important flows of cultural materials,
of the kind labeled â€˜diffusionâ€™ by anthropology,
often including foods, food ingredients, and
methods of food preparation, as for cooking
and preservation. The following is the most
famous illustration of such flows.
The Columbian exchange — as the Old and New
World interchange of plants, animals and foods,
after the European discovery of the Americas,
has been described– completely remade world
diet (Crosby 1972). Specific plants, animals and
foods traveled enormous distances. The sweet
potato, for example, a vital supplementary food
or â€˜side dishâ€™ in Asia despite its lowly
reputation, crossed the Pacific westward from
the New World in the sixteenth century,
probably entering China via the Philippines.
Maize and peanuts also reached Asia in that
century. All are from the New World, and
exemplify old and important changes in the
global system. Once such introductions are
accepted, of course, their origins no longer
matter to their users, and may be remembered,
if at all, only in particular words or phrases
(often geographically misleading, such as
â€™Guinea cornâ€™) in the everyday course of life.
But it is important to understand that all of the
interchanges of the present are being
superimposed upon those of the remote past.
The Columbian Exchange
I wish to begin here, though, not with some of
the most dramatic global borrowings from the
East, but with some of the least noticed. It may
be of interest that an American in what was
then the colony of Georgia, Mr. Samuel Bowen,
produced noodles, sago flour and soy sauce
from plants imported to and growing in
America. He carried them to Britain, was
received by King George III and awarded a gold
medal for his work, and this happened in 1766,
just ten years before the start of the American
Revolution. Though little of economic
importance resulted from Mr. Bowenâ€™s
experiments, his success suggests that these
Asian foods had already greatly interested
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European colonists in the New World, as well
as the Europeans themselves (Hymowitz and
Harlan 1983). A letter from Benjamin Franklin
to his friend John Bartram in Philadelphia,
written in 1770, explains how one could make
â€˜cheeseâ€™ (by which he meant curd) from beans â€“
indicating that tofu, a remarkable Asian
achievement, and the legume from which it was
processed, were known to the pre-revolutionary
American colonists and held their interest. I
note these matters to remind those readers
who are excited by todayâ€™s global trends in food
that modern globalization lies on the surface of
a truly lengthy history, one that we ignore at
our peril, lest we be ridiculed for our lack of
knowledge about plant history and the history
Though western acceptance of soybeans and of
beancurd as food would be delayed for
centuries, we know Europe developed an early
craving for Eastern spices, and the Columbian
voyages and those which followed were
inspired by a desire to find a sea route to Asia
to obtain such things. Discussions of
Columbusâ€™s achievements dwell on his courage
and his search for that sea route. They do not
often mention that marine trade was needed by
Europe in the fifteenth century because
superior Islamic military and political might
had made land trade with Asia both costly and
dangerous. Spices figured importantly among
the desired items. Most, such as cardamom,
cloves, turmeric and black pepper, were drawn
first from India and Indonesia, and particularly
from the Moluccas of the Malaysian
archipelago, the so-called â€˜spice islandsâ€™. But
not all of those tastes which Europe desired
came from the islands.
Though not often remarked, an important
flavoring of Chinese origin seems to have
reached Europe in the seventeenth century.
Dutch traders carried soy sauce to Europe,
where it enjoyed an early popularity. Soy sauce
turns up thereafter in unexpected places. In the
1960s, we should not be surprised when we
find soy sauce reappearing in the first edition
of the late Julia Childâ€™s famous The Art of
French Cooking, in which she instructs readers
how to make a â€˜classicâ€™ French roast lamb with
mustard dressing. Classic it may be; but the
main ingredients of the dressing, in addition to
the mustard, are powdered ginger and soy
sauce. I have not done the historical research
that might help me explain how ginger and soy
sauce came to be part of a â€˜classicâ€™ French
recipe. I leave that task to someone more
energetic than I.
But ginger deserves at least another word.
Ginger is, of course, also Asian in origin.
Galanga or galangal, known as â€˜galingaleâ€™ in
medieval England (Alpinia galanga, A.
officinarum or Kaempferia galanga), often split
into lesser and greater galingale, flavorings
found in Southeast Asia and in China, differ
from true ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe),
but are of the same botanical family. They turn
up in England, together with true ginger, at an
early time. Indeed, The Shorter Oxford English
Dictionary gives as its first written reference to
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both ginger and the galingales a work in the
Saxon language, dated to about the year 1000
A.D. But like many other eastern spices, ginger
almost drops out of sight in British cuisine after
1650. It has been suggested that during the
Commonwealth, under Oliver Cromwell, spice
use in Britain may have declined sharply. I
know of no genuine evidence that the
humorless austerity of the time reached even
into the spice pantry. But except for such
special holiday treats as fruit cake, cured
gammon or ham, and cookies, in which the
traditional cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and
ginger still commonly appear, British spice use
did seem to contract in the seventeenth
A wholly different, non-traditional and curious
Asian food-related import to the West is
monosodium glutamate, the substance first
isolated from seaweed by the Japanese chemist
Ikeda Kikunae, in his work on the elusive taste
now known as umami or, in Chinese, as xiÃ£n
wÃ©i. MSG was sold widely, though in tiny
quantities, in the U.S. after 1908, turning up in
showy green-and-gold tin boxes, decorated with
dragons and other Asian art, and labeled
â€˜epicurean powderâ€™. My hunch is that it had
been laboriously extracted from natural
sources, such as seaweed. Before World War II,
however, its principal users in the U.S. were
probably Chinese cooks. The first MSG factory
in the U.S. opened in 1934; the appearance of
aji-no-moto, and its rebirth after World War II
as the trade product Accent, are relatively late
These odd bits and pieces of Asian food
exportation to the West serve to remind us that
the diffusion of a plant or spice to a different
continent or country may predate by many
years its significant use in the larger local food
system. The uses made of garlic and the
capsicums in the U.S. before 1945 were largely
limited to ethnic communities. Indeed, some
food plants may diffuse first because of their
medicinal or ornamental uses. Second, we need
to be reminded that restaurants, while not the
only, or necessarily even the main, channels for
the transmission of new foods, may bring in
items otherwise not known in the host society.
Gentleman farmers such as Thomas Jefferson
envisioned the cultivation, processing and use
of new agricultural products as part of the
farmerâ€™s profession. People like him, by their
energy and curiosity, ensured that many
unfamiliar food ingredients would reach foreign
shores and new enthusiasts. Only in the course
of the last century have foreign cooks and
ethnic restaurants become major sources of
new dishes and ingredients in the West, New
foods are disseminated today not so much by
imaginative farmers as by aggressive
restauranteurs and corporate organizations.
I want to turn now to diffusions that dwarf
these early borrowings. Rice is surely one of
Asiaâ€™s greatest gifts to the West. It was
probably first introduced to Europe after 711
A.D., when the Moors invaded Spain. Not until
the mid-fifteenth century did Spanish farmers
plant the variety called Arborio on the Po Plain
in northern Italy. That short-grained rice then
became the basis for the famous Italian risotto.
European rice is Asian in origin, the species
Oryza sativa. Arborio, and numerous other
European varieties used in local cuisine, are all
of these species.
Rice reached the United States in the
seventeenth century, but was not planted
commercially until nearly 1700, in South
Carolina. This rice, too, is Oryza sativa, just like
the rice that reached Europe. Rice became well
known in the Americas by the nineteenth
century, though it had early become a
commodity in international trade, thanks to the
labor and skills of enslaved Africans in South
Carolina (Carney 2002), centuries earlier.
During the more recent spread from its center
of cultivation in the U.S. South during the last
century, it has been transformed from a
somewhat localized food or dessert ingredient
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into a daily near-necessity for countless
millions, Asian and non-Asian alike, across the
Rice field, Japan
One of the most important general trends in
world food choices concerns rice, I believe.
There has been a widespread, long-term
increase in cereal consumption, worldwide,
which has involved a shift from coarser cereals
such as sorghum and millet to rice. In Latin
America, Africa and Asia, traditional food
patterns based upon such tuber foods as sweet
potatoes, yams and taro have been maintained,
but particularly by the poorer sectors; and
sweet potatoes are used more and more as
animal feed in Asia. Though the aggregate
world production of tubers has kept pace with
increases in population in most of the world, I
think that in the last half century, tubers have
been losing ground to maize, to wheat
products, and especially to rice. There are
multiple factors involved in this secular change,
and I cannot go into them here. But among the
cereal grains, rice has repeatedly supplanted
other complex carbohydrates, particularly in
the diets of members of the rising middle
classes in developing countries. In past
centuries, rice had become the complex
carbohydrate of choice throughout the
Caribbean region of the New World, where it
remains the favorite, in countries such as Cuba,
Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad. I have already
referred to its importance in the antebellum
(pre-Civil War) South of the United States,
where it is still produced and much favored.
Another important Asian crop that early
changed Western food habits is of course tea.
Its story deserves a book, not a few lines (for
example, see Macfarlane 2003). It was taken up
in Great Britain in the middle of the
seventeenth century, because of the influence
of the Portuguese queen of Charles II,
Catherine of Braganza, who introduced tea at
the court. In a mere century, British
consumption rose from a few thousand to many
millions of pounds. As this writer suggested
when writing about the history of sugar, sugar
and tea were among the first true commodities,
and the first overseas food products in history
to become items of mass consumption in
Europe (Mintz 1985). Exploding British tea
consumption in the nineteenth century, and the
Chinese insistence on being paid for tea with
specie, played a critical part in the British
decision forcibly to impose the sale of opium
upon China; but to document those events fully
would sidetrack us here.
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Green tea field, Korea
As a third and final example of diffusion, one
that happened in totally unexpected ways, I
refer to the spread of the soybean and its
byproducts. Soybeans, as I noted, were known
in the West at an early time. But not until
World War I did that interest become
commercially relevant, as wartime demand for
oil, particularly for industrial uses, shot up. In
the U.S., soybean production rose, but
principally for its oil, while the plants were
ploughed under to enrich the soil. Between
world wars, American soybean production
remained minor. But with World War II,
soybeans became economically important once
more. Once again, though, soybeans were not
important as a primary food. This is the most
dramatic aspect of the diffusion of soybean
cultivation and use to the West: a
transformation of the uses to which soybeans
were put. The stress upon exportation, the
manufacture of cooking oil, and the provision of
animal feed became the fate of what had been
Asiaâ€™s greatest contribution to global vegetable
protein consumption. When we note that the
annual soybean crop in the U.S., the worldâ€™s
leading producer of soybeans, provides enough
protein for the needs of the U.S. population for
three years, it is startling to realize that hardly
any humans get direct benefit of that protein.
In the U.S., much of the protein is fed in meal
to chickens, which are then fried in soybean oil
in fast-food restaurants. It is the birds â€“ or pigs,
or cows — not the human beings, who get the
protein directly. And so soybeans have made an
enormous contribution to Western diet, but
mostly so far in the form of an oil cooking
medium and a protein-rich animal food. The
Western lust for animal protein, now rapidly
spreading to other regions, has been fed by the
conversion of the soybean into a primary food
for food animals (Dubois and Mintz 2003).
That is by no means the whole story, of course.
Soy milk consumption is flourishing in the U.S.;
so-called nutraceuticals made with soy enjoy a
growing market; soy-based infant formula is
doing well; and of course soy protein is being
used for famine relief, by the military, and in
many other ways. Something like 70% of
packaged food products in the U.S. now contain
some soy-derived ingredient, such as lecithin,
or soybean oil or soy protein. But this does not
alter the fact that the principal use of soy in the
U.S. turns out to enable people to eat less
healthily at the top of the food chain, rather
than more healthily near the bottom. There is
another important side to the diffusion of the
soybean to the West. In the U.S., and now
increasingly in Latin America, especially Brazil
and Argentina, soybean farming has become of
prime economic importance. Brazil is a major
exporter of soybeans to China, where soy meal
is now a first-rank animal feed. On the one
hand, this has meant big increases in animal
protein consumption in Asia. On the other, the
environmental impact upon Amazonia has been
disastrous, and is still growing. This odd
transformation by the West of what was Asiaâ€™s
greatest legume cannot detain us here; but its
implications are better documented elsewhere
(Du Bois, Tan and Mintz 2008).
Rice, tea, soybeans â€“ though these Asian foods
have become enormously important outside
Asia, they merely scratch the surface of the
transfers of Asian food substances and
techniques to the rest of the globe. The spread
of methods for cooking ingredients — old and
new — in different ways likewise deserves a
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word, for in this regard as well, Asia has been
very influential. Two Asian cooking techniques
in particular have spread rapidly, and with
outstanding success in the West: stir-frying and
steaming. Both have been publicized in Europe
and in the U.S., as more healthful than many
Western cooking techniques. In the case of stirfrying, there has been stress upon reduction in
the amounts of fats used, and upon the
nutritive benefits of less thorough cooking.
Some attention has also been paid to the way in
which a quality of â€˜meatinessâ€™ can be imparted
to the food, using only minimum quantities of
animal protein and fats. In the case of
steaming, the stress has been on the virtual
absence of cooking fat and, again, on the
nutritive gains possible from neither baking nor
boiling the food for a long period. Though it is
not easy to judge just how deeply these two
Asian techniques have penetrated into the daily
eating customs of Europeans and Americans,
the sales of rice cookers, woks and steamers
have been of considerable importance for
several decades; and demonstrations of both
steaming and stir-frying have become very
frequent, in supermarkets, gourmet food
stores, and on TV. The phrase â€˜stir-fryâ€™ â€“ though
I admit that it sometimes seems to describe
barely recognizable cooking methods â€“ has
entered into culinary rhetoric in magazines,
and on packages of prepared foods of all kinds.
It is worth observing that the successful
introduction of a different cooking method can
sometimes play a part in further innovation.
Americans, for example, have learned to stir fry
such items as maize kernels, chayote (Sechium
edule), jÃcama or yam-bean (Pachyrrhizus spp.),
sunchokes (Helianthus tuberosus) and squash
blossoms, which they either had not eaten
before in any form, or had otherwise eaten only
in very different ways. What is worth remarking
in such cases is that the plants I have listed are
all Native American in origin â€“ but the mode of
preparation is Asian.
To my knowledge, no one has seriously
attempted to work up a history of the diffusion
of these cooking methods, or of their
transformation in the hands of western cooks.
Such a study would serve to make clear how
the appropriation of cultural materials
â€˜indigenizesâ€™ them, rather the way that sushi
has, to all intents and purposes, become as
American as bagels, pizza, pasta and pita.
That we now have in the U.S. a score of such
delicacies as the California roll, Rock-and-roll
and similar inventions, attests to the
appropriation of cultural traditions by alien
societies and their subsequent hybridization â€“
just as had happened with chop suey and chow
mein, a century ago. When this happens, the
borrowed element is no longer what it once
was — even if it is or seems to be identical.
More commonly, modification, simplification
and reintegration typify food history, as they do
in so much cultural borrowing, and tell us
about cultureâ€™s absorptive power. It is for this
reason that I want to call attention to the
distinction between an innovation sent, and an
innovation received. Whether we have in mind
an ingredient, a plant, an animal, a cooking
method, or some other concrete culinary
borrowing, when such things spread and they
come into the hands of the receiving farmers,
processors or cooks, they have been detached
from some particular cultural system; and
when they are taken up, they become
reintegrated into another, usually quite
Of course the spread of Asian food ingredients,
dishes and cooking methods has been matched,
at the very least, by the diffusion of non-Asian
foods and food materials within Asia. This
began at least as early as the Columbian
exchange — which is to say five centuries ago â€“
even if we omit such items as sweet potatoes.
But in recent centuries, Europeans in Asia and
returning Asians have had at least a modest
impact upon traditional indigenous cuisine.
Cwiertka (1999: 44) points out that it was
Europeans who introduced such vegetables as
potatoes, cabbage and onions to Japan in the
mid-nineteenth century, and some of these
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were rapidly assimilated to Japanese cuisine.
The far earlier introductions of maize, the
capsicums (peppers) and peanuts, all New
World cultivars, to China are not credited to
anyone in particular; but these, too, were soon
â€œindigenizedâ€ within Chinese cuisine. Anderson
(1988) discusses the much more recent spread
of refined Western wheat flour and wheaten
products to China, and surmises that their
nutritional effects have been mostly negative.
But the interpenetration of cuisines in this
manner has led, on the part of some, to concern
about the standardization or â€˜uniformizationâ€™ of
food worldwide. Of this concern, two things
may be said. First, I know of no effort so far to
work up a thorough history of the diffusion of
cooking methods, or of their transformation in
the hands of â€œnationalâ€ cooks â€“ that is, of the
ways that Chinese or Korean cooks, for
example, have creatively incorporated culinary
elements from elsewhere into Chinese or
Korean cuisines. But we know perfectly well
that these processes occur â€“ the place of
peanuts or hot peppers or maize or tomatoes
today in Asian cooking, for example, is eloquent
evidence. That there is a continuous, creative
culinary process by which the new or unusual
is embedded effectively in the everyday, usually
by the replacement or intensification of a
customary or familiar item with a new and
different one, seems absolutely true. I do not
think that this kind of change has abetted
standardization, at least not yet.
But second, this qualification does not address
what may be far more effective in modifying
radically some local cuisine: large-scale
economic changes that move masses of people
around, shift the rural-urban balance, or create
big migrant labor forces. These changes may
not have to do with food itself, but with the
conditions for its production, the circumstances
under which people eat, and the place of
domestic groups in reproducing the eating
habits of the previous generation. It should be
clear that what I am enumerating does describe
much of what has been happening in China, for
example, in the last two decades. If by â€œcuisineâ€
one means the haute cuisine (or grande
cuisine) of the ruling stratum, that will
probably survive nearly all of these large
changes. But if one means the way that most
people eat (or â€œmost ordinaryâ€ people eat, in
the American paraphrase), then the possibility
of radical change and eventual standardization
of some food habits on a global basis certainly
I have suggested elsewhere (Mintz 1996: 25-6)
that nothing changes food habits more
effectively than war. This is not meant as a
sarcastic assertion. Perhaps nothing comes
closer to war in effecting such change than
famine. But next in line as a change-making
force, I believe, is radical economic and
demographic change. Even without war or
famine, basic economic changes are occurring
in much of Asia, as people migrate to cities or
overseas in search of work, state-sponsored
engineering remakes transport systems and
increases total societal energy by dam building,
and state and private capital create factories,
mines and new ports. Such development is
considered the pathway to raising productivity
and standards of living. But it can also take a
heavy toll upon cultural locality and
distinctiveness. The belief that such change (in
analogy to the tide) â€˜raises all boatsâ€™ is naive, I
think. How much of their income people can
assign to food — and indeed, how much time
they can give to preparing and even eating it —
is a vital factor in the persistence of tradition
and the shaping of change. When such change
has the effect of revolutionizing both food
production and the circumstances of its
preparation and consumption, that means its
lived impact falls squarely upon existing
patterns of eating. In Chinaâ€™s case, for example,
recent sharp increases in the consumption of
animal protein, sugars and fats, occurring as
incomes rise and people become both
physically and spatially more mobile, appears
to have medical consequences parallel to those
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in the West at an earlier time, and the
implications for individual health are extremely
Let me conclude with an example, a tribute to
Asian culinary genius, but one completely
transfigured by borrowing. It is embodied
within a recipe, distributed in a box that
contains what is probably the most famous
trademarked American relish, Tabasco Sauce.
This condiment contains the juice of pickled
capsicum â€“ â€˜hotâ€™ red peppers â€“ vinegar, and
salt. The recipe I cite, recommended by the
makers of Tabasco Sauce, is called â€˜Cajun Fried
Riceâ€™. And since the word â€˜Cajunâ€™ (from the
term â€˜Acadianâ€™, referring to the francophone
Canadians, mostly driven elsewhere by the
British, many settling in the Louisiana
Territory) is associated with Louisiana, the
inference is that this will be a Louisianan
recipe of some kind. Hence it is entertaining to
discover that its principal ingredients include
soy sauce, sesame oil, bean sprouts, ginger,
rice and peanut oil.
Cajun fried rice
To call it â€˜Cajunâ€™ is a convenient example, as I
have said, of the way foods can be painlessly
borrowed and assimilated. But imitation is
supposed to be the sincerest sort of flattery.
The spread of Asian foods, flavorings, cooks
and restaurants to the West, however mangled
they become in the process, may be the best
measure we have of the greatness of the
cuisines they claim to represent. But a more
thorough discussion of Asian contributions
would fill volumes, and this paper is meant at
best as a mere appetizer.
This is a slightly revised version of a chapter
that appeared in Sidney C.H Cheung and Tan
Chee-beng, eds., Food and Foodways in Asia:
Resource, Tradition and Cooking. The author
recognizes the preliminary character of the
analysis and requests suggestions for
Sidney Mintz has studied Caribbean rural life,
social history, and the Afro-Caribbean tradition
from the time of his first fieldwork in Puerto
Rico (1948), through his presentation of the
W.E.B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard (2003). He
has attempted throughout to wed the
anthropological concept of culture to historical
materialist scholarship. His major books
include Sweetness and Power: The Place of
Sugar in Modern History
theasipacjo0b-20), and Tasting Food, Tasting
Recommended citation: Sidney W. Mintz,
“Asia’s Contributions to World Cuisine,” The
Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 18-2-09, May 1st,
Anderson, E.N. 1988. The Food of China. New
Haven: Yale University Press.
____________ 2005. Everyone Eats. New York:
New York University Press.
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Carney, Judith. 2003. Black Rice. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press.
Cwiertka, K. 1999. The Making of Modern
Culinary Tradition In Japan. Ph.D. dissertation,
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