After the Europeans reached the Americas, diets around the world were instantly enriched. Scores of different types of food were suddenly added to the cuisines of people all around the world - including many just taken for granted today. Without the native peoples of the Americas, there would be no chocolate, fries, thanksgiving turkey, or sweet corn today.

Like the United States - and perhaps much more, Mexican cuisine is also strongly influenced by the cuisine of the native Mesoamericans. The indigenous influence can be felt all the way down the Americas - even the best Peruvian foods have been influenced by native recipes and dishes.

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The Native American Influence Is Everywhere In The World

In Ireland, the potato is considered a core part of Ireland's culinary tradition. But the humble potato hails from the Andean mountains in South America. Some of the foods that were first cultivated by the native peoples of the Americas include potatoes, corn, cranberries, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, peppers, avocados, squash, beans, tomatoes, and peanuts, turkey, and even maple syrup. Chocolate and cocoa also hail from the Americas.

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Today some of the foods that have been adopted into the broader American diet from the Native American cultures include cornbread, turkey, blueberry, mush, and hominy.

Today New England cuisine has been significantly influenced by the Southern New England Algonquian cuisine. These influences can be seen in dishes like cornbread, succotash, and Johnnycakes as well as ingredients like corn, cranberries, and local species of clam.

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Native American Food

Native American food and cuisine are recognized for their use of indigenous domesticated foods as well as wild food ingredients. It is important to keep in mind that the farming and hunting and gathering lifestyles varied massively around the Americas. What the Inuit of Alaska have traditionally eaten is completely different from what the native peoples of the Andean mountains have eaten.

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In the United States alone there are over 500 currently recognized Native American tribes and the cuisine can vary significantly by region and culture. Much of North American Native cuisine is known for its simplicity and directness of flavor with flavorings of wild gingers, miners' lettuce, juniper berry, and ramps being used to add flavor.

The native peoples of the Eastern Woodlands have traditionally used corn, beans, and squash as their staple foods. They are known as the "Three Sisters" as they were grown interdependently with the beans growing up the tall stalks of corn while the squash spread out at the base protecting the root systems.

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For those wanting to prepare some native American dishes the New York Times has ten essential Native American dishes to explore by oneself. Open Table has another five American dishes and where to eat them. Here are two of the dishes.

Roasted Turnips and Winter Squash With Agave Glaze

Traditionally this dish would have included timpsula - a wild turnip that grows in the Great Plains from where this recipe is from. In Lakota homes, the turnips were often braided and dried for use throughout the winter (it is difficult to come by as it is not sold commercially). Consequently, the milder and denser garden turnips have been substituted.

  • Time: 45 Minutes

The agave glaze adds a touch of sweetness to the vegetables and the toasted sunflower seeds add crunch. Serve it with a bison pot roast with hominy (or wild rice if one would prefer a vegetarian meal).

The recipe includes turnips and squash. See the whole recipe and instructions in the New York Times.

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Bison Pot Roast With Hominy

The American bison once roamed across the Great Plains and were once a vital food source for the peoples of the plains. To the Lakota, they were considered sacred animals. It is estimated that there were 30 to 60 million bison in North America in the 1500s. By the end of the 1800s, their population had been pushed to the edge of extinction.

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Now there are hundreds of thousands of them in public herds and on ranches. When the bison meat is slowly braised, the lean and mild meat becomes fork-tender. Adding hominy brings substance and a subtly sweet, nutty corn flavor. To add a woodsy note add foraged white cedar or juniper berries.

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