Picadillo is popular all over Latin America and beyond. However, some people believe that picadillo was invented either in Mexico or Cuba. So which is the right answer? Keep reading to find out.
Is Picadillo Mexican or Cuban?
The answer is… neither. The origins of picadillo are too fuzzy to pinpoint with precision. And while Mexicans and Cubans certainly love their picadillo, it’s unlikely that this traditional dish originated in either of these countries.
In fact, chances are good that picadillo wasn’t even first prepared in the American continent, but in Europe!
As is often the case with cuisine and culture in general, the influence of Spain looms large in Latin America, and picadillo is no different.
And even though many countries would love to hold the title of being the creator of picadillo, historians believe that this ground meat delicacy was created in Andalusia, in the south of Spain.
The Evidence for the Spanish Origins of Picadillo
There’s no definitive proof of the Spanish origins of picadillo, but some indirect evidence lends some credence to this theory.
For example, the word “picadillo” is already included in a Spanish dictionary published between 1726 and 1739. According to the definition, one of the first versions of picadillo consisted of “a stew made by chopping raw meat with bacon, vegetables, and garlic, after which it [the stew] is boiled and seasoned with spices and battered eggs.”
This tells us that a dish very similar to today’s picadillo was already a thing in early 18th century Spain. If indeed picadillo was invented around that time in Spain, that would explain why picadillo is popular in the countries that used to be Spanish dominions. This includes all Latin America, but also the Philippines, where picadillo is also a hit to this day.
To learn more about the stories behind some of the world’s most famous dishes and foods, check out our previous blogs, “What Is the Origin of Duchess Potatoes?” and “Is Mozzarella Made from Cow’s or Goat’s Milk?”
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