November 21, 2012 at 9:57 AM

New World Cuisine Opens December 9

"New World Cuisine explores the many ways that mixing new ingredients with the old created a variety of dishes around the world..."

By Lynn Cline

Gourmet Girl

Lynn Cline is a former food editor and the author of two books – Romantic Days and Nights in Santa Fe and Literary Pilgrims: The Santa Fe and Taos Writers' Colonies, 1915-1950. She also loves to cook, when not dining out.


Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's time to start working up your appetite for a delicious exhibit, New World Cuisine: The Histories of Chocolate, Mate Y Más, opening at the Museum of International Folk Art on December 9 at 10 a.m.

New World Cuisine explores the many ways that mixing new ingredients with the old created a variety of dishes around the world, including some that came to be associated with New Mexico.

Christopher Columbus brought foods from the New World back to the Old World, including potatoes, maize, tomatoes, chili peppers, cacao, peanuts, and pineapples. Some of these ingredients became central to the cuisines of the Old World, including the tomato in Mediterranean region and the chili pepper in India, Korea, Thailand and China. In Hungary, paprika made from chili peppers became a staple.

And while crops and cuisines changed in the Old World, Franciscan monks in the New World began cooking with indigenous crops, including squash, corn and beans, incorporating them into meals with Spanish meats, spices and dairy.

New World Cuisine features more than 300 objects from the museum’s vast collection of historical culinary items including fine antique and contemporary silverware from Europe and the Americas, Asian and European spice jars, talavera kitchen and tableware and traditional cooking vessels reimagined by metal smiths using hammered copper to accommodate the molinillo used to froth chocolate.

All provide insight into the importance placed on crafting exquisite food vessels and implements—and that you are what you eat with. “It’s such a fabulous history,” says exhibit curator Nicolasa Chávez, “We’re borrowing one little teeny tiny pottery sherd from Chaco Canyon that was tested for theobroma (chocolate’s scientific name). I wanted that in the exhibit to really bring home to New Mexico that we’ve had a 1,000-year-old love affair with chocolate.”

Don't miss this fascinating exploration of the history of New World Cuisine, on view through January 5, 2014.