Christopher Columbus

Every once in a while mankind’s destiny is dramatically changed by fortunate circumstances or by people who might be morally flawed but do something special that changes the course of history.

A case in point is Christopher Columbus and the impact he had on the international world of food after he landed on American shores. Should we forgive him his lack of empathy for Natives, his greed and his partial geographical ignorance? In his honor and to celebrate his American discovery California set up in 1992 a grand parade. According to San Fernando Missions’s archivist Monsignor Francis Weber in his published work entitled, Catholic Church in California.

“The float depicted Christopher Columbus and his flagship, the Santa Maria, in keeping with the parade’s theme and the Order’s observance of Columbus’s arrival in America…Upwards of 15 million people lined the parade route in Pasadena to view the colorful event. In addition, the parade had a television viewing audience numbering 300 million throughout the world…The spectacular float was an impressive scale replica of the Santa Maria, lead ship of Columbus’s flotilla, its details remarkably accurate to the last detail…The replica was portrayed as gently rocking over an ocean of colorful roses and dendrobium orchids.

Parchment scrolls of manuscript maps, sea charts and copperplate engravings intertwined through imaginary water, creating a bold and dramatic floral presentation. On waves of roses and blue iris, the Santa Maria was craft-fully recreated with glossy coverings of palm bark and a detail area of gold and bronze chrysanthemums…Pennants, flags and the coats of arms were portrayed by carnations, gladiolis, dendrobium petals, yellow button mums, sinuate statice, pearl onions and imported seeds…It was easily the most elaborate and popular public display in the long history of the Knights of Columbus…”

Wild Chiles - © Elisabetta Giacon 2014

Wild Chiles – © Elisabetta Giacon 2014

Sunday, 21 October 1492:

“I am the saddest man in the world for not knowing what kind of things these are…[Fuson 89]”

Sunday, 28 October 1492:

“This island (Cuba) is filled with very beautiful mountains, although they are not very long, only high. All the other land is high like Sicily. According to what I can understand from the Indians from Guanhani that are with me, this land is full of rivers…[Fuson 95]”

Tuesday – January 15, 1493:

“There is also much aji [chiles/chili pepper] which is their pepper and is worth more than one pepper; no one eats without it because it is very healthy. Fifty caravels can be loaded each year with it on this Isla Espanola…[Fuson, p. 175]”

– Excerpted from The Four Voyages by Christopher Columbus, translated by Cohen;  published by Penguin in 1969 – incl. The letter written by Dr. Chanca to the City of Seville and from The Log of Christopher Columbus; Translated by Robert H. Fuson; published by International Marine Publishing, Camden, Maine, U.S.A in 1987

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