Sauerkraut started as Kim-chee

On the radio just now, I heard that the Mongols first introduced Sauerkraut to Europe. All sorts of pieces fell into place for me, just from that simple statement. The Koreans are first cousins to the Mongols, the languages are obviously related, and the cultures contain many common features. And the fermentation used to make Sauerkraut is pretty much identical with what is done to produce kim-chee. The main difference is the use of Chinese cabbage versus European cabbage.

When would this have happened? In the 13th Century, the Mongols were in control of most of modern Russia and Ukraine. In 1241 they were at the gates of Vienna and deep into what is now Poland. This is the period when it is most likely that the Europeans would have learned about how to ferment cabbage. Despite the hostilities involved, often there are cultural interchanges – for example in 1648 the Turks (close relatives of the Mongols) gave up their attack on Vienna, and Europe discovered COFFEE.

Just to show that you can’t trust what you read online consider this:

It’s been over 4000 years since Chinese Mongols first introduced sauerkraut to the Europeans. Since that time, sauerkraut has become a regular part of menus all over the world.

Honestly, I don’t buy it, the Mongols were too far away 4000 years ago, and I would assert that there is no such thing as a “Chinese Mongol” – or (since the Mongols ruled China for a while) there was no such thing 4000 years ago. There is NO relationship between the Chinese and Mongol languages, very separate and unrelated populations.

So if we want to celebrate the origin of Sauerkraut in Europe, I think we need to look back to 1241…

Would the Europeans possibly have eliminated the red pepper because it wasn’t a part of their normal diet? Or was the red pepper a more recent addition as far as Kimchee is concerned?

I think that Capsicum is a more recent addition to the Korean version.

Why can’t I see my avatar, or Tex’s?? Linda’s is as cute as ever…

Linda, good question, Tex, good answer.

Hot peppers arrived in the “old world” after 1492. It is very interesting to consider what Indian food would have been like before the hot peppers arrived. It is my opinion that Persian food is the “old” version and that North Indian food would have been more or less identical to Persian food before 1492. Persian food has the same sauces and many of the same savory flavors, but it’s never hot.

In the same vein, pre-Colombian kim-chee must have been much closer to Sauerkraut than it is today.

There is a little controversy about the Chinese discovery of pickled cabbage. Chinese records show that the stuff became popular around the time of the building of the Great Wall. Personally, I think that is when the Chinese heard about the process from the Mongols. Sino-centric historians reverse it and say that the Chinese invented the process and the Mongols more or less immediately stole it. Hmm. [scratch.gif]

The Japanese seem to have resisted many of the Korean foods, and really never got into hot pepper at all.

I think hot pepper went from Portugal around the world very soon after Columbus brought it back.

BTW in South India they had black pepper before 1492, so you COULD have had hot food more than 500 years ago…

So, did any of the north African countries have hot chilis early on (ie Ethiopia), or would they have gotten them through the Asian route as well?

The entire “old world” including Africa would have been without several mainstays.

No capsicum peppers – possibly black pepper for hotness, that is Asian.

No potatoes or tomatoes.

Several kinds of beans came from the New World including kidney beans. But black-eyed peas were known in Africa and the Middle East and made the trip TO America with the slave trade.

It is hard to imagine Indian food without hot peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes, but that is how it must have been.

I find the whole subject of food history quite interesting. One of the most interesting things to me is that the Romans made heavy use of a kind of fish sauce – I think the custom persisted in the Byzantine empire but disappeared from Europe when Constantinople fell to the Turks (also around 1492). The interesting part is that the fish sauce used today in Vietnamese and Thai cooking appears to be pretty much exactly the same as what the Romans used. And there were Romans who traveled to the East at least deep into India so these ideas would have had the chance to travel around.

Garum. Which the Romans adopted, apparently, from the Greeks.

Right, Garum, thanks Bob.

If we visualize one pitched battle after another between the Mongols and the Europeans it is a little hard to imagine how anyone would be sharing their kim-chee recipes. But of course the time was lengthy, and if you want to know what “1241” says to me, it’s Alexander Nevsky, who around that time frame was scoring brilliant victories against invading Swedes and Germans (the Livonian Knights). He is described in the Wiki as having been a “collaborationist” with the Mongols, and I could easily imagine that there were shared meals and cooks recruited across ethnicities.

In later centuries the descendants of the “Golden Horde” populated various “-stans” and they are still there, available for cultural interchanges of one sort or another. Here is a map of the Mongol Empire after 1241

I don’t think most non-foodies realize how recent the addition of the tomato was to these countries, especially Italian, because it is such a staple of their cooking now. It would be interesting to go to these places in a time machine and eat what was there at the time.
Anyone have a time machine? flirtysmile

Kim-Chee is inherently korean. The pickled veggies that Chinese eat and to an extent Mongolians still eat is not red. It’s spicy but it’s not from red chilis. Our people have been making it for a long long time before Kim Chi came to be.

Charlie, how would Korean or Mongolian pickled cabbage have been red before 1492?

It goes back to about 500 AD in both Chinese and Mongolian culture, as I said, I think it leaked across the border back then, one direction or the other.

Anyone have a time machine?

I do; but you gotta bring your own weapons. neener

A great read that describes the vast influences Arabic and Islamic cultures had on mediterranean cuisine was written by Clifford Wright, titled A Mediterranean Feast:" onclick=";return false;

i just don’t know what it has to do with kim-chee or korea is all

Because Kimchee is known for being pickled in red pepper.

More Americans know about kim-chee than other Asian pickled vegetables. It makes a point of reference especially since the vegetable is cabbage. Come to think of it even the Japanese pickle vegetables, but “oshinko” usually does not include cabbage and is not made using a stinky fermentation process, like both kim-chee and sauerkraut. If there is a Chinese equivalent to sauerkraut, I don’t know about it (which I realize is an admission of ignorance, and not a denial of its existence). I do know that there has not been a mass migration of Chinese people to the gates of Vienna. At least not yet… So our original Sauerkraut came from an idea that the Mongols had. And I believe that the Mongolian and Turkish languages have a rather obvious link to the Korean language…