Ours and not ours. This is how I summarize the take on Columbus found in a smart little volume by Stefano Milioni about the foodstuffs that were adopted by Italians post contact. The volume is entitled Columbus Menu: Italian Cuisine after the First Voyage of Christopher Columbus and was published by the Italian Trade Commission out of New York. The figure of Columbus is the object of a complex gesture of appropriation and disavowal. Take the concluding paragraph from the section “To The Reader”
With the commemoration this year of the 500th anniversary of the first voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World, a contest has erupted among European countries to claim credit for that enterprise, even if it means shouldering responsibility for some of the grave consequences of the historic undertaking.
There is further elaboration on the next page in the opening lines of the “Introduction”
It is not a question, here, of defending at all costs the Italian character of the explorer or his accomplishments, simply because Columbus was a native of Genoa. In addition, history also tells us that Italy, which was then divided into a multitude of small states, most of which were under the influence or domination of the major European powers of that time, played no role in the organization of the early voyages or the subsequent penetration and exploitation of the America continents by Europeans. Whether because of historical factors, incapacity, indolence or good will or bad, no Italian ship crossed the Atlantic in those years and certainly not with a cargo of armed soldiers ready to defy the unknown primarily in response to the mirage of wealth and power.
And the introduction rolls on to discuss the arrival and adoption of new foodstuffs. And various sections are given over to tomatoes, potatoes and chocolate among others with examples of first Italian recipes and modern recipes. And lots more interesting historical bits about food production since 1492.
And so for day 860