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Learn about peasant cuisine

Culinary heritage


Culinary heritage

Culinary roots

All the classical cuisines of the world including those of France, Italy, and China have their roots in peasant dishes. The same is true for most of the bourgeois, or urban middle class, dishes.

Adopted foreign foods

Some peasant dishes that a nation thinks of as their own actually originated in a foreign land. Take stuffed vine leaves, a Greek staple. Though the Turkish version, yalanci dolma, is the original, you can't blame the Greeks for thinking that stuffed vine leaves are their creation. When one's grandmother's grandmother made them, how could anyone think otherwise?

Dish origins

Because dishes do cross borders, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to determine with any degree of certainty the true homeland of some peasant creations. Scant evidence exists because ethnic groups migrate and frontiers change. Just as important, written records are rare on this subject. Peasant cooks seldom, if ever, jotted down recipes, and the ancient scribes in the city almost never chronicled for posterity the dishes that peasants ate.

Some ingredients
through culinary migration
have become global staples

The onion family, of course, has always been a universal flavoring agent. But foods like carrots (over the centuries) became commonplace virtually everywhere. And where the French settlers have been, I see thyme in the native marketplaces.

Peasant feast day painting by Ivan Semenovich Kulikov


Famous peasant dishes

Arroz Con Pollo  Spain
Cassoulet  France
Cha Chiang Mein  China
Couscous  Morocco
Houskove Knedliky  Czech Republic
Huevos Rancheros  Mexico
Nasi Goreng  Indonesia
Osso Buco  Italy
Oyako Donburi  Japan
Roghan Josh  India
Tom Yam Kung  Thailand
Vatapa  Brazil
Yalanci Dolma  Turkey

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