Jun 072017

The Treaty of Tordesillas was signed at Tordesillas in Castile on this date in 1494, and authenticated at Setúbal in Portugal. It divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between Portugal and the Crown of Castile, along a meridian 370 nautical leagues west of the Cape Verde islands, off the west coast of Africa. This line of demarcation was about halfway between the Cape Verde islands (already Portuguese) and the islands entered by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage (claimed for Castile and León), named in the treaty as Cipangu and Antilia (Cuba and Hispaniola). The lands to the east would belong to Portugal and the lands to the west to Castile.  This treaty would be observed reasonably well by Spain and Portugal, despite considerable ignorance concerning the geography of the New World. It did, however, omit all of the other European powers. More to the point, it did not take account of the fact that most of the lands included in the treaty were fully occupied by indigenous peoples. Despite its antiquity the treaty is still occasionally invoked by the governments of successor nations to the former Spanish empire.

The Treaty of Tordesillas was intended to solve the dispute that had arisen following the return of Christopher Columbus and his crew, who had sailed under the sponsorship of the Catholic Monarchs (Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon). On his way back to Spain Columbus first arrived at Lisbon in Portugal. There he asked for a meeting with king John II to discuss the newly discovered lands. In turn the Portuguese king sent a threatening letter to the Catholic Monarchs stating that the Treaty of Alcáçovas signed in 1479 and confirmed in 1481 with the papal bull Æterni regis,  granted all lands south of the Canary Islands to Portugal, all of the lands discovered by Columbus belonged, in fact, to Portugal. Also, John II stated that he was already making arrangements for a fleet (an armada led by Francisco de Almeida) to depart shortly and take possession of the new lands.

After reading the letter the Catholic Monarchs, knowing they did not have any military power in the Atlantic to match the Portuguese, pursued a diplomatic way out. On 4th May 1493 Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia), an Aragonese from Valencia by birth, decreed in the bull, Inter caetera, that all lands west and south of a pole-to-pole line 100 leagues west and south of any of the islands of the Azores or the Cape Verde Islands should belong to Castile, although territory under Catholic rule as of Christmas 1492 would remain untouched. The bull did not mention Portugal or its lands, so Portugal could not claim newly discovered lands even if they were east of the line. Another bull, Dudum siquidem, (“Extension of the Apostolic Grant and Donation of the Indies”) dated 25th September 1493, gave all mainland territories and islands, “at one time or even yet belonged to India” to Spain, even if east of the line.

John II was not pleased with that arrangement, feeling that it gave him far too little land, and it prevented him from possessing India, his near term goal. By 1493 Portuguese explorers had reached the Cape of Good Hope and knew they could round Africa to head to India. The Portuguese were unlikely to go to war over the islands encountered by Columbus, but the explicit mention of India was a major issue. John II opened direct negotiations with the Catholic Monarchs to move the line to the west and allow him to claim newly discovered lands east of the line. In the bargain, John accepted Inter caetera as the starting point of discussion with Ferdinand and Isabella, but had the boundary line moved 270 leagues west, protecting the Portuguese route down the coast of Africa and giving the Portuguese rights to lands that now constitute the eastern quarter of Brazil. Both sides knew that such a boundary could not be accurately fixed and each felt comfortable that the other was deceived. Portugal felt it was a diplomatic triumph because it gained the Portuguese a viable sea route to India and gave them most of the South Atlantic. Not known at the time was just how much of the Americas it granted Spain (and how much gold, silver, and precious stones there were in South America).

The treaty effectively countered the bulls of Alexander VI but was subsequently sanctioned by Pope Julius II by means of the bull Ea quae pro bono pacis of 24th January 1506. Even though the treaty was negotiated without consulting the pope, a few sources called the resulting line the “Papal Line of Demarcation”. Very little of the newly divided area had actually been seen by Europeans, as it was only divided via the treaty. Castile gained lands including most of the Americas, which in 1494 had little proven wealth. The easternmost part of current Brazil was granted to Portugal when in 1500 Pedro Álvares Cabral landed there while he was en route to India. Some historians contend that the Portuguese already knew of the South American bulge that makes up most of Brazil before this time, so his landing in Brazil was not an accident. J.H. Parry in The Age of Reconnaissance: Discovery, Exploration, and Settlement, 1450–1650 (1973) says that the likelihood of Cabral’s landing on the Brazilian coast 12 degrees farther south than the expected Cape São Roque, “as a result of freak weather or navigational error was remote; and it is highly probable that Cabral had been instructed to investigate a coast whose existence was not merely suspected, but already known”.

The line was not strictly enforced—the Spanish did not resist the Portuguese expansion of Brazil across the meridian. However, the Catholic Monarchs attempted to stop the Portuguese advance in Asia, by claiming the meridian line ran around the world, dividing the whole world in half rather than just the Atlantic. Portugal pushed back, seeking another papal pronouncement that limited the line of demarcation to the Atlantic. This was given by Pope Leo X, who was friendly toward Portugal and its discoveries, in 1514 in the bull Praecelsae devotionis.

Spanish empire

For a period between 1580 and 1640, the treaty was rendered meaningless, because Spain controlled Portugal. It was superseded by the 1750 Treaty of Madrid which granted Portugal control of the lands it occupied in South America. However, the latter treaty was immediately repudiated by Spain. The First Treaty of San Ildefonso settled the problem, with Spain acquiring territories east of the Uruguay River and Portugal acquiring territories in the Amazon Basin. Emerging Protestant maritime powers, particularly England and The Netherlands, and other third parties such as Roman Catholic France, did not recognize the division of the world between only two Roman Catholic nations brokered by the pope, however.

Portuguese empire

Well, the story continues of course. But I’ll stop except to note that in the 20th century The Treaty of Tordesillas was invoked by Chile to defend the principle of an Antarctic sector extending along a meridian to the South Pole, as well as the assertion that the treaty made Spanish (or Portuguese) all undiscovered land south to the Pole, and by  Argentina as part of its claim to the Malvinas Islands. In both cases the treaty was only a part of the legal tussles, and did not have enormous force by itself because it excluded all other European nations.

If you want to start a fight either within Iberia or between foodies abroad ask what the difference is between Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. You’ll get multiple answers, but, in reality, it is a meaningless question.  Both countries have diverse cuisines based on region, and there is a great deal of overlap. Even if I narrow things down to the sausage called chorizo in Spanish and chouriço in Portuguese I’m not much further along.  I’ll give it a go, though, and in the process talk about these sausages in the Spanish and Portuguese diasporas. I’ll begin by saying that chorizo and chouriço are fairly generic names for a wide variety of sausages, usually preserved in some way.

Generic Spanish chorizo is made from coarsely chopped pork and pork fat, seasoned with pimentón – a special smoked paprika – and salt. It is generally classed as either picante (spicy) or dulce (sweet), depending upon the type of pimentón used. Hundreds of regional varieties of Spanish chorizo, both smoked and unsmoked, exist and may contain garlic, herbs, and other ingredients. There is Chorizo de Pamplona which is a thicker sausage with the meat finely ground or chorizo Riojano from the La Rioja region, which has PGI protection within the EU. Spanish chorizo can be made in short or long and hard or soft varieties; leaner varieties are suited to being eaten at room temperature as an appetizer or in tapas, whereas the fattier versions are generally used for cooking. A good rule of thumb is that long, thin chorizos are sweet, and short chorizos are spicy, although this is not always the case. Depending on the variety, chorizo can be eaten sliced without further cooking, sometimes sliced in a sandwich, or grilled, fried, or baked alongside other things, and is also an ingredient in several dishes where it accompanies beans, such as fabada or cocido montañés. The version of these dishes con todos los sacramentos (with all the trimmings, literally sacraments) adds to chorizo other preserved meats such as tocino (cured bacon) and morcilla (blood sausage).

Portuguese chouriço is made with pork, fat, wine, paprika, garlic, and salt. It is then stuffed into natural or artificial casings and slowly dried over smoke. The many different varieties differ in color, shape, seasoning, and taste. Many dishes of Portuguese cuisine (and Brazilian cuisine) make use of chouriço – cozido à portuguesa and feijoada are two of the best known. A popular way to prepare chouriço is partially sliced and flame-cooked over alcohol at the table (chouriço à bombeiro). Special glazed earthenware dishes with a lattice top are used for this purpose.

In Johannesburg in South Africa, the high influx of Portuguese immigrants in the 1960s from Portugal and Mozambique tended to settle in a suburb called La Rochelle and though most of them have either returned to Portugal or moved on to more affluent suburbs in the city, restaurants in the area still have chouriço as the centerpiece of many items on their menus. In the heavily Portuguese counties in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, chouriço is often served with little neck clams and white beans. Chouriço sandwiches on grinder rolls, with sautéed green peppers and onions, are commonly available at local delis and convenience stores. Stuffed quahogs (also known as stuffies), a Rhode Island specialty, usually include chouriço.

Mexican chorizo is probably the commonest chorizo in the United States. It is based on the uncooked Spanish chorizo fresco (fresh chorizo), usually made with fatty pork, but beef, venison, chicken, kosher, turkey, and even tofu and vegan versions are made. The meat is usually ground rather than chopped, and different seasonings are used. This type is not frequently found in Europe or outside the Americas in general. Chorizo verde (green chorizo) is an emblematic food item of the Valle de Toluca, and is claimed to have originated in the town of Texcalyacac.

The area of around Toluca, known as the capital of chorizo outside of the Iberian Peninsula, specializes in “green” chorizo, made with tomatillo, cilantro, chili peppers, garlic, or a combination of these. The green chorizo recipe is native to Toluca. Most Mexican chorizo is a deep reddish color, and is largely available in two varieties, fresh and dried, though fresh is much more common. Quality chorizo consists of good cuts of pork stuffed in intestinal casings,[10] while some of the cheapest commercial styles use variety meats stuffed in inedible plastic casing to resemble sausage links. Before consumption, the casing is usually cut open and the sausage is fried in a pan and mashed with a fork until it resembles finely minced ground beef. A common alternative recipe doesn’t have casings. Pork and beef are cured overnight in vinegar and chili powder. Served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it has the finely minced texture mentioned above, and is quite intense in flavor.

In Mexico, restaurants and food stands make tacos, queso fundido (or choriqueso), burritos, and tortas with cooked chorizo, and it is also a popular pizza topping. Chorizo con huevos is a popular breakfast dish in Mexico and areas of the USA with Mexican immigration. It is made by mixing fried chorizo with scrambled eggs. Chorizo con huevos is often used in breakfast burritos, tacos, and taquitos. Another popular Mexican recipe is fried chorizo combined with pinto or black refried beans. This combination is often used in tortas as a spread, or as a side dish where plain refried beans would normally be served. In Mexico, chorizo is also used to make the popular appetizer chorizo con queso (or choriqueso), which is small pieces of chorizo served in or on melted cheese, and eaten with small corn tortillas. In heavily Mexican parts of the United States, a popular filling for breakfast tacos is chorizo con papas, or diced potatoes sautéed until soft with chorizo mixed in.

In Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia, chorizo is the name for any coarse meat sausage. Spanish-style chorizo is also available, and is distinguished by the name “chorizo español” (Spanish chorizo). Argentine chorizos are normally made of pork, and are not spicy hot. Some Argentine chorizos include other types of meat, typically beef. In Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, and Peru, a fresh chorizo, cooked and served in a bread roll, is called a choripán. In Colombia, chorizos are usually eaten with arepas (cornflour buns).

In Bolivia, chorizos are made of pork, fried and served with a salad (tomato, lettuce, onion, boiled carrots, and quirquiña), mote (hominy), and a slice of bread soaked with chorizo fat.

In Goa, former Portuguese colony in India, chouriço is very common. Here, chouriço is made from a mixture of pork, vinegar, red chilies, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, cloves, pepper, and cinnamon – a combination which is extremely hot, spicy, and flavorful – that is stuffed into cow/ox intestine casings. These are enjoyed either with the local Goan bread (pão), or pearl onions, or both. They are also used in a rice-based dish called pulão.  Goan chouriço is so must be cooked before eating.

Three kinds of chouriço are found in Goa: dry, wet, and skin. Dry chouriço is aged in the sun for long periods (three months or more). Wet chouriço has been aged for about a month. Skin chouriço, also aged, is rare and difficult to find. It consists primarily of pork skin and some fat. All three chouriço are made in variations such as hot, medium, and mild. Other variations exist, depending on the size of the links, which range from 1 in (smallest) to 6 in. Typically, the wet varieties tend to be longer than the dry ones.

In Louisiana, Creole and Cajun cuisine both feature a variant of chorizo called chaurice, which is frequently used in the quintessential Creole dish of red beans and rice.  This dish undoubtedly derives from the time when Louisiana was part of the Florida territory in the Spanish empire.

So there you have it. I’m sure you can find one of these kinds of sausage locally. Make a Spanish or Portuguese dish — your choice.