My name is Jana and I’m the Silk Route Chef. This blog is my space for sharing my ideas, techniques and experiments in food with you and I hope you will share yours with me. Before moving ahead, I think, perhaps, an explanation of the blog title is in order. I’ll keep it brief.
The Silk Road was a massive network of trade routes that spanned Eurasia and Africa. This large network was made up of smaller terrestrial and marine ‘silk routes’ that had been in use periodically from as early as 200BC. The name ‘Silk Road’ is derived from the earliest trade networks from Han Dynasty China which dealt primarily in silk. This ancient road expanded to include trade with the Indian Subcontinent, then the Persian Empire, ancient Greece and Rome following the Roman conquest of Egypt. This network connected Europe and Northern Africa with the furthest reaches of Asia in the East for the first time.
Trade on the Silk Road after the 11th century was dominated by Arabia. Following the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the colonization of the Caribbean and South America in the 14th and 15th centuries, trade along the Silk Road was led by the Portuguese. Eventually, the Southern routes were largely monopolized by the East India Trading Company from the late 18th century onwards.
While the early history of this network was centered on the trade of Chinese silk, it quickly expanded to include the trade of other commodities such as spices, plant cultivars, incense and precious minerals and metals. The regional centres were also largely responsible for cultural, religious and artistic transmigration in Afro-Eurasia for centuries.
How does this all relate to food and specifically this blog, you ask? My favourite foods, flavours and cooking techniques are largely from the regions along the Silk Road. This blog will principally feature the cuisines of modern Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, the Middle East, Morocco, Egypt, Greece and to some extent Italy. Due to the arrival of exotic plant cultivars and spices on the Silk Road from Mexico, the Caribbean and South America and the similarity of ingredients between the cuisines of this region and South and South-East Asia, recipes from these regions will also be heavily featured here. These will, collectively, be referred to as Silk Route cuisine.
Although the main flavours, ingredients, themes and recipes are from the regions along the Silk Road, occasional forays will be made into other cuisines as well, especially when dessert is concerned! My love for French cuisine and North American comfort foods will not be ignored here, either.
I believe that we eat with all our senses and that food should not only be treated as sustenance, but as art as well. My choice of ingredients and presentation will, hopefully, reflect this. Food has also been used to strengthen social and familial bonds since the age of hunter-gatherers. It is important to me in this fast-paced, urban, individualistic age of electronic social networks to take a moment and utilize these same electronic media to share with everyone something that connects all of us as human beings in our most primal, vulnerable, communal and contented state: food.
Contact: Please feel free to contact me at ‘silkroutechef (at) gmail.com’
Enough history and background, let’s start cooking!