7 Foods You Totally Didn’t “Discover”
Food fads come and go. Palates may change, science may pull the rug out from under a health craze, or you may just realize that kale should never be a pizza topping and this whole charade has gone way too far. But just like Hollywood keeps making the same movies over and over again, most of the good foods have existed in one form or another long before we happened upon them. Here are, on Columbus Day, seven foods that have suffered a case of culinary Columbus-ing.
It's true, the reign of King Kale may finally be ending. The leafy cousin of cabbage seemed to spring up from nowhere and then was suddenly everywhere. No wonder, since kale has been cultivated widely for 2,000 years and was the most common vegetable of the Middle Ages.
Chile peppers were a later addition to southeast Asia from the New World, but took off in a variety of cuisines (see: kimchi). The origin of the sauce that commonly became known as sriracha is a little sketchy, but it was certainly being eaten well before the 2010s. Even so, the now-ubiquitous green-topped bottles from Los Angeles–based Huy Fong Foods started production back in 1980, where it was a Vietnamese community staple before exploding onto the condiment scene. Now even Applebee's has it on the menu.
While no one is really sure where kombucha itself comes from (the word appears to be made up), fermented teas and fungus-filled beverages have been around for thousands of years. The resurgence of kombucha from near-anonymity to top of the functional beverage scene makes you wonder if those ancients were also first to discover it doesn't really do anything.
Beets have been and will always be delicious, earthy subterranean treats. Because they fall in and out of fashion among the culinary elite, these roots are constantly being rediscovered by chefs and adventurous eaters whose parents may have been turned off altogether by the canned version as children. But as beet-crazy as we may be now, nothing compares to a WWI-era phenomenon known as mangel-wurzel disease, which afflicted poor hungry souls who had to subside on nothing but beets.
The Mexican liquor was once considered the bastard cousin of quality tequila, when in fact all tequila is just a specific type of mezcal. Now that production is more regulated, the liquor is finding its way into the craft cocktail scene and growing a devoted following…that is to say, a devoted non-Mexican following, since the stuff has been a south-of-the-border staple since at least the Spanish Conquest.
The miracle protein-rich pseudo-cereal has been touted as the cure for everything from world hunger to our meat obsession. It may very well turn out to do those things, but what it didn't do was suddenly appear at the supermarket. The Incas began cultivating the Andean grain anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. It was first documented in the Western world by Spanish colonials, which makes quinoa just about the perfect food to "discover" on your table this Columbus Day.