Columbian Exchange

From Eating Asturias, the Encyclopedia of Asturian Gastronomy
Book Cover: The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 by Alfred W. Crosby Jr.
The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 by Alfred W. Crosby Jr.

The Columbian Exchange refers to the exchange of diseases, ideas, food crops, and populations between the New World (the Americas) in the Western Hemisphere, and the Old World (Afro-Eurasia) in the Eastern Hemisphere, in the late 15th and following centuries.[1] The term was coined by Alfred W. Crosby, an American historian at the University of Texas at Austin. His 1972 book The Columbian Exchange, and subsequent volumes within the same decade cemented the term in the popular imagination.[2] It is however, critically important to remember that the Columbian Exchange was not an exchange of foods.To quote Rachel Lauden

Pigs went to Mexico, dry-cured hams did not. Maize went to Europe, but treating maize with alkali did not. Chiles made it round the world, but pureed chile sauces did not either.

— Rachel Lauden, [3]

Within the context of Asturian gastronomy, the Columbian Exchange stands out as the largest event in the history of eating. The impact it has had is nothing less than seismic.

Notable "new world" food stuffs entered Asturian cooking in the three centuries following the Columbus expeditions. None of these staple Asturian ingredients were available prior to the Exchange.[4]

Asturian Crops From the Columbian Exchange

For more information on how individual crops diffused through Europe and Asia, please see Zachary Nowak's New Columbian Exchange Maps.
Latin English Asturian Castilian
Zea mays Corn
Phaseolus vulgaris Pinto Beans Fabes pintas frijoles pintas
Phaseolus lunatus Lima Beans garrafón
Phaseolus vulgaris Green Beans Fabes de granxa
Phaseolus vulgaris Kidney Beans
Pleurotus eryngii Oyster Mushroom Seta de cardo
Vaccinium sect. Cyanococcus Blueberry Arando Arandano
Capsicum annuum sect. Grossum Bell Pepper Pimientu Pimiento
Capsicum frutescen / chinense Chili Pepper Pimientu Pimiento
Cucurbita moschata Butternut Squash
Cucurbita pepo var. pepo Pumpkin
Cucurbita pepo var. cylindrica Zucchini
Solanum tuberosum Potato Pataca patata / papa
Fragaria × ananassa Strawberry Fresón Fresa
Solanum lycopersicum Tomato tomate tomate
  1. Nunn, Nathan, and Nancy Qian. “The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food, and Ideas.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 24, no. 2, 2010, pp. 163–88. JSTOR,
  2. Crosby, Alfred W. The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. 30th anniversary ed, Praeger, 2003.
  3. Laudan, Rachel. “Why Didn’t the Spanish Dry-Cure Ham in Mexico?" - Rachel Laudan.” Rachel Laudan, 7 Mar. 2023,
  4. Civitello, Linda. Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People. 2nd ed, pp 129. John Wiley, 2007.