The Galleon Trade, the Bacalao, and Lent

The influence of global trade on culinary traditions can still be seen today in a Lenten season staple dish in Cavite City: bacalao.

The Galleon Trade, the Bacalao, and Lent

The influence of global trade on culinary traditions can still be seen today in a Lenten season staple dish in Cavite City: bacalao.

by Ige Ramos

When Ferdinand Magellan sailed westwards in search of the Spice Islands, he did not plan to stumble upon what is now known as the Philippines. As the world commemorates the quincentennial of the circumnavigation of the globe in 1521, we look back on how Spain had left its religion and culinary footprint on the small community of Puerto de Cavite, a tiny peninsula that lies at  the entrance of Manila Bay. Strategically situated, it protected Manila from marauding pirates and European invaders and served as the staging area and launching site of the Galleon Trade.

The Galleon Trade was the first global enterprise between Europe and America to Asia that fostered massive exchanges of goods and culture between 1565 and 1815. Andres de Urdaneta, the Basque navigator and Augustinian friar who discovered the tornaviaje (the return route from Manila to Mexico), made this cultural exchange possible. Tastes were altered with the introduction of new fruits and vegetables and the creative indigenization of unfamiliar ingredients, kitchen utensils, and cooking techniques—thereby changing the ways Caviteños spoke and ate.

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