Columbus Day: A Day of Discovery

Columbus Day is sometimes called Discoverers' Day. In the spirit of discovery, take some time to learn about the world as it was in the days of the European explorers. You can make a compass, learn about the stars, read about other explorers and discoverers, and find how even our way of eating has changed since the Europeans came to the Americas looking for gold, glory, and, yes, tasty cooking spices.

Pizza Without Tomato Sauce?

The explorers who came to the Americas found the food enjoyed by the native people to be very different from what they knew at home. They had never seen tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize (corn), pineapples, chili peppers, or even cocoa. The vegetable dishes from the Europe they knew relied on parsnips, cabbages, peas, carrots, turnips, and onions. After being at sea and living off of a diet of lentil soup, salt beef from a barrel, salted sardines, hardtack, and other delights, the fresh, new foods of the islands would have been an astonishing change.

Columbus' shipsIn time, sailors brought the New World foods not only to Europe but also took them along when they settled other lands. And, over the years, the Europeans brought olives, bananas, wheat, and sugarcane to the Americas. Now, about that pizza with no tomato sauce: a kind of pizza had been around for over a thousand years before Columbus made his voyage, but that rich, red sauce we know today comes directly from New World tomatoes he discovered.

For a Columbus Day dinner, ask for Mom or Dad's help to make a meal that shows how the Old World and the New World got together. Here's a recipe for Columbian Lentils that blends Old World flavors the sailors knew, such as lentils and onions, with New World ingredients such as tomatoes and potatoes for a delicious dish. Serve it with a nice loaf of Italian Bread (for Columbus) or Easy Cornbread (for native peoples). After dinner, grab a mug of Thick, Rich, Spanish Hot Chocolate and watch the stars as explorers did on their long voyages.

New Ways, Old Ways

Discover the tastes and cultures of Europe and the New World with these kid-friendly cookbooks. Click on any title to go to our catalog where you may place a request for the book.

Cooking the Caribbean Way by Cheryl Davidson Kaufman.

Cooking the Italian Way by Alphonse Bisignano.

Cooking the South American Way by Helga Parnell.

Cooking the Spanish Way by Rebecca Christian.

More Fun and Games on the Web:

Busy Teachers' Cafe: Columbus Day
http://www.busyteacherscafe.com/themes/columbus.html
Attention, teachers! Find ideas on working Columbus Day history into math, writing, health/nutrition, grammar, science, and social studies. Includes a vocabulary word search.

Columbus Day Crafts and Activities
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/columbus/
Great stuff here! Make a map, a globe, an Earth pendant, a totem pole, a rainstick, a dream catcher, and a paper canoe.

Learning About Columbus

All About Christopher Columbus
http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/all-about-christopher-columbu...
An article from Grolier Online encyclopedia has a lot of information about Columbus' life and voyages.

Christopher Columbus Biography for Kids
http://mrnussbaum.com/columbus/
Gross and tasty details of foods enjoyed by Columbus' sailors and the Indians.

Christopher Columbus: His Gastronomic Persona 
http://centinestyle.it/pdf_files/ChristopherColumbus-HisGastronomicPerso...
As Christopher Columbus traveled from his boyhood in Italy to Spain and the New World, the kinds of foods he would have eaten changed--a lot!

Famous People: Christopher Columbus
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/famouspeople/christopher_col...
The BBC's primary (elementary) school site has a lot of information about the explorer and includes games, images, a quiz, and links to ther good sites.