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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Quick research VII - Fish n' Chips is Portuguese, so is Tempura

Now, here's something I always wanted to write about: How Fish n' Chips is Portuguese! Not wanting to come across as a bigot, but I do sound just like a Greek saying that they have invented everything. But this one is true, just like the Japanese Tempura is also Portuguese. I will not explain myself to long, – this post is called “Quick research” - yet I want to present to you some links and proof that my 1st statement is true.
So, let's start with some info on the subject that might interest you. We'll start chronologically:

Being introduced in Japan by Portuguese Jesuit missionaries in the 16th century, Tempura became, centuries later, a national dish. It is nothing more then putting vegetables and fish in batter and then deep frying it; to be eaten during lent, when red meat should be avoided by Catholics. It is said that the word “tempura” comes from the latin quattuor tempora and ad tempora quadragesimae, meaning the time of Lent. There is another theory that says that it might have come from the Portuguese word “condiment” or “to season” (tempero). Nevertheless, it is all linked.
Some more links on the subject:

Fish n' Chips
According to this quick research, deep-fried fish in Great Britain has a jewish origin, from the religious refugees escaping from the Holy Inquisition in Portugal and Spain during the 17th century. Although potatoes were introduced later, it was very common in the Iberian Peninsula to cook fish like that and it is called “peixe frito” (“pescado” for Spanish).
Here's an answer that made me smile and I might use some of the referred topics for future “quick researches”:
«Very few dishes are English...
Even tea was introduced in England by a Portuguese, Catherine of Bragança, the wife of Charles II... She was also responsible for British India because her dowry included the city of Bombay (back then India was completely under Portuguese control).
Curry, by the way, was invented because of the Portuguese, when they arrived in India in 1500, "curry" was created as a way of bringing back an array of spices to Europe instead of just one. So it wasn't "British soldiers" who invented curry, that's ridiculous, when the British arrived in India the Portuguese were already there for almost 200 years...»


Here are a few more links:

Personally, I believe that it would make sense to say that the notion of Fish n' Chips being a working class staple food is much older then the one presented in theories (late 19th century). I believe that fish cut offs would have been used by poor people, then put in batter, then deep fried (to disguise the bad flavor) and potatoes were added since they were a poor people's food too. Potatoes were already a well established food staple in Portugal in mid 18th century, just as rice was (please read past blog post on he subject). It is my personal opinion that all of this would have made sense being invented by fishermen and sailors in contact with the Portuguese culture. And Portugal and England had fishing treaties since the 12th century. Be aware, it's just my way of reasoning.

Peixe frito
And here's how we deep fry our fish and vegetables! The info above now will come together and will make sense. Please notice the type of fish used (not the one you would find at a Nobleman's table) and how vegetables substitute fish in a humble dwelling. Enjoy!

Carapau frito (deep fried mackerel ). Image taken from http://acomidinha.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/carapaus-fritos-peixe-frito/

 Peixinhos da horta (little fish from the kitchen garden, or deep fried green beans). Image taken from

Some recipes in English:

And a video on how to do the “little fish of the kitchen garden”:


Keith H. Burgess said...

Good one Sara.
Regards, Keith.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, you've gone with the schlock headlines there. You really should check the accuracy of what you find on the internet before re-posting it as 'truth'.

That style of fried fish might be Portuguese but the chips or frites are Belgian. The combination of fish and chips can hardly be claimed to be Portuguese.

India was never 'under Portuguese control' - that comment is incorrect and deeply insulting to India and its people. Portugal established a few trading posts which they later consolidated into what they called 'Estado da Índia Portuguesa'. India was not one nation but was made up of many disparate political entities, races and cultures and the Portuguese never gained control of more than a teensy fraction. The turbulent relationship of what we now call 'Britain' and 'India' is well-known. But the Portuguese did not cover themselves in glory in their dealings on the sub-continent. They only acknowledged Indian sovereignty over formerly Portuguese territories in 1975. Hardly something to be proud of. Making absurd claims that India was 'completely under Portuguese control' will hardly endear you to historians or anyone of Indian origin.

No-one from Europe, British or Portuguese, invented curry. The word had existed in England from at least the Middle Ages: the recipe collection 'The Forme of Cury' dates to the 14th century. 'Curry' is probably derived from the French 'cuire', to cook, and originally referred to hot food. When European traders encountered Indian cuisine, there was some confusion with a Tamil word 'kari' which simply means sauce. As so often happens in language, the existing English word which sounded similar was used by English speakers and eventually became a way of referring to the whole of Indian cuisine. Some dishes were invented for British tastes but not the whole of Indian cookery. It is the word 'curry' which has is English in origin, but also French and Tamil.

Tea is documented as an increasingly popular drink in England from at least the 1650s. That is, before 1662, when Charles II married Catherine. And though the Portuguese ceded Bombay in the marriage treaty, England specifically had commercial interests in India from at least the sixteenth century, which culminated in the foundation of the English East India Company in 1600 and then, by permission of Indian rulers like the Mughal Emperor, English trading bases. The United Provinces (now the Netherlands) established their own East India company in 1602. Both nations quickly eclipsed the trading of the Estado da Índia and dominated Indo-European trade from the mid-17th century. Scotland's failed attempts to copy England's trading successes in Asia and the Americas bankrupted the country and the Scottish negotiated the political union with England to form the United Kingdom in 1707, though the crowns had been united since 1603.

It's obvious that your post needs more careful wording and a little more research. Pity you didn't value accuracy over sensational pro-Portuguese claims. A real disappointment.

Sara Seydak said...

Dear Historic Fashion,
It is costumary, 1stly, to introduce oneselve instead of going blazing guns on someone.It's easy to hide behind anonymity.
I'm almost certain that I've come across your style of writing before on the www, so I'm almost sure we have met. If this is an attempt on your behlaf to strike back because of the post "humble pie", you've missed.

And now, to answer your questions:
1)I've never claimed that chips and fries are Portuguese. In fact in one of the links it clearly says that is is a combination of Portuguese and Belgium cuisine;
2)About India, tea, curry, etc, it wasn't me who said it; it was just an answer I re-posted;
3) Again, about India, check you're History knowledge: we had an Empire in the East before Great Britain;google for Companhia das Indias and their Vice-roys;
4) Complaining about my level of truth is completlely missplaced and an absolut waste of my time; you should complain to the researchers behind the articles I've based my research on;
5) Make sure you fully understand what you're reading before criticizing; nowadays people are more inclined to answer back instead of listening;
6)The title was ment to be shocking; and no, I'm not an ultra-nationalist;
7) It is funny how you take this post to criticize and not another one, specially the ones about themes that have been praized by museum directors;
8) Don't take things so personally; there's a whole beautifull planet out there; just stop and smell the roses, instead of going around and spreading your poison....dude.

Last but not least, I thankyou for reading my post; it is one of the most viwed so far.

Best regards,
Sara Seydak.