‘This is the land you have been seeking,
This is India rising before you;
Unless you desire yet more of the world,
Your long task is accomplished.’
Rejoicing to see he knew the country,
Da Gama contained himself no longer
But knelt on deck, arms raised towards the sky,
And gave his heartfelt thanks to God on high.
Luis Vaz De Camoes was said to be the “first European artist” to cross the equator. His epic poem, The Lusiads, published in 1572, describes Vasco da Gama’s voyage from Portugal in 1498, to discover a sea route to India and seize control of vital maritime trading routes from Arab traders. Da Gama’s discoveries heralded, for better or worse, the start of the great age of global discovery and trade in spices that would make Europe rich beyond measure.
If philosophers of old, who visited
So many lands to study their secrets,
Had witnessed the marvels I witnessed,
Spreading my sail to such different winds,
What great writings they would have left us!
What revelations about the heavens,
What marvellous testimonies to Nature’s youth!
And all without hyperbole. Plain truth!
From a culinary perspective, these events had a profound impact. Driven by the search for pepper, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg, the Portuguese in turn brought to India new ingredients from the Americas including chillies, tomatoes, potatoes and cashews. They introduced techniques to make vinegar, bread, cheese and sweets. Indian food would never be the same.
Join us at the Bombay Cook Club: Book Club to share a Portuguese influenced meal inspired by The Lusiads, and talk about the significant impact that European trade had on India and its cuisine.
We’ll show you how to make a traditional vindaloo masala spice mix, and cook a lamb vindaloo, pickle fowl, spiced potatoes and rice, which we will serve with crusty bread. And given that the Portuguese were famous for their desserts, we’ll be making you a traditional Goan Bebinca, or layered custard pudding.
“On the sea, such storms and perils
That death, many times, seemed imminent;
On the land, such battle and intrigue
Such dire, inevitable hardships!
Where may frail humanity shelter
Briefly, in some secure port,
Where the bright heavens cease to vent their rage
On such insects on so small a stage?”
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