In the last 500 years, nothing about people——not their clothes, ideas, or languages——has changed as much as what they eat. The original chocolate drink was made from the seeds of the cocoa tree by South American Indians. The Spanish introduced it to the rest of the rest of the world during the 1500’s. And although it was very expensive, it quickly became fashionable. In London shops where chocolate drinks were weaved became important meeting places. Some still exist today.
The potato is also from the New World. Around 1600, the Spanish brought it from Peru to Europe, where it soon was widely grown. Ireland became so dependent on it that thousands of Irish people starved when the crop failed during the “Potato Famine” of 1845-6, and thousands more were forced to emigrate to America.
There are many other foods that have traveled from South America to the Old World. But some others went in the opposite direction. Brazil is now the World’s largest grower of coffee, and coffee is an important crop in Colombia and other South American countries. But it is native to Ethiopia. It was first made into a dink by Arabs during the 1400’s.
According to an Arabic legend, coffee was discovered when a goatherd name Kaldi noticed that his goats were attracted to the red berries on a coffee bush. He tried on and experienced the “wide awake” feeling that one –third of the world’s population now starts the day with.