Salsas originated in Central and South America in pre-Columbian times with the Aztec, Incan and and Mayan cuisines. What has become known as salsa fresca, or fresh sauce, came in to European and North American cooking via Spanish invaders in South America. The term "salsa" is the Spanish word for "sauce" and "fresca" is the Spanish word for "fresh." Mango salsa is simply a variation of salsa fresca. The history of mango salsa is the history of salsa in general.
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Early Pre-Columbian Salsas
Although no authentic recipes still exist, the tradition of making uncooked sauces from fruits and vegetables dates back to pre-Columbian times in Central and South America.
Salsas in Spanish Cooking
Spanish conquistadors adopted local cooking traditions after the invasion of Latin America in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thus resulting in the Spanish term "salsa fresca" to describe these traditional sauces.
Salsas in Central & South American Cooking
As European cultures supplanted local indigenous cultures, cuisines which adopted aspects of the local cultural cuisines that take advantage of local ingredients developed. Because of the climate, mangoes are indigenous to many Central and South American areas and were likely used as an ingredient for salsas frescas from the time of the Aztec, Incan and Mayan times.
Salsas in Caribbean Cooking
Caribbean cooking traditionally fuses spices and fruit, with many cuisines adding the nearly volcanic kick of the Scotch Bonnet or Habanero pepper. The tradition of salsa fresca was diffused throughout the Caribbean and many variants of fruit salsa were a result. Whether the indigenous cultures made salsas in pre-Columbian times is difficult to verify due to the lack of primary source written materials of non-Spanish origin.
Salsas in Modern North American Cooking
Modern North American cooking has become a fusion of traditions, flavors and dishes from virtually every part of the globe. The tradition of eating tomato-based salsa fresca was likely regional until the practice of eating Mexican food spread throughout the continent. Exactly how mango salsa reached North America isn't really known, but it was likely brought from the Caribbean by travelers. Modern North American salsas are still primarily tomato based, but many people are beginning to appreciate the sweet, salty, sour and spicy combinations of flavors in a well-balanced mango salsa.