Culture Food

The History of “Ketchup”

A friend of mine recently recommended me a book called The Language of Food by Daniel Jurafsky on the history, linguistics, and culture behind the modern foods we eat today. In a section of the book, it says that the Western tomato sauce we know as “Ketchup” today actually comes from the Old Hokkien word for “fish sauce”. What is Old Hokkien? Old Hokkien is the archaic version of today’s Hokkien language spoken in the province of Fujian. In the book, it says that the Cantonese word for “fish sauce” is pretty much the same but that it is just a coincidence. Despite, the so-called “coincidence”, who knows how closely related Old Hokkien and Cantonese may have been 4 hundreds years ago? In our global world today, it is interesting to think what other foods around us have elements adapted or borrowed from foreign cultures.

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