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Ch. 4 - PERIPATETIC PLANTS OF EASTERN ASIA

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 August 2009

Kenneth F. Kiple
Affiliation:
Bowling Green State University, Ohio
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Summary

We must also take into account the wheat pasta eaten in northern China and Japan, countries usually thought of as consumers of rice or pasta derived from rice.

Giovanni Rebora (1998)

TROPICAL TUCK OF SOUTHEAST ASIA

Asia, sprawling over the eastern portion of the Eurasian land mass as the largest of the world's continents was, not surprisingly, the site of many more Neolithic upheavals than those that took place in the Fertile Crescent. Far to its south and east – in East and Southeast Asia (Indochina) – parts of this vast region can claim a close second in agricultural development. Unfortunately, monsoon Asia, with perhaps the best claim, lies in the tropical belt where artifacts do not preserve well. Consequently there are considerable gaps in the archeological record of foodstuffs and much remains speculative.

Banana and plantain

It has been proposed that in the islands of Melanesia – especially Papua New Guinea – around 9,000 years ago, or even earlier, bananas were cultivated by Australoid peoples whose predecessors reached these Asian outposts by crossing Indonesian land bridges that were later submerged. Geographically there is no problem with this assertion. The wild ancestors of the domesticated banana, Musa acuminata and M. balbisiana, (old usage designated the domesticated banana M. sapientum – “fruit of the wise men” – and the plantain M. paradisiaca – “heavenly fruit”) were located in a region extending from New Guinea to Thailand.

Type
Chapter
Information
A Movable Feast
Ten Millennia of Food Globalization
, pp. 36 - 50
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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