Columbus stumbled upon the New World while seeking the riches of the orient, yet native peoples of the Americas already held riches beyond his knowing. From maize to potatoes to native beans, a
variety of crops unfamiliar to Europeans were cultivated by indigenous peoples of the Americas, with other foods like chilies and chocolate on hand to make diets all the more interesting (even when
used in combination, as aficionados of molé will attest). Chilies to Chocolate traces the biological and cultural history of some New World crops that have worldwide economic importance.
Drawing on disciplines as diverse as anthropology, ethnobotany, and agronomy, it focuses on the domestication and use of these plants by native peoples and their dispersion into the fields and
kitchens of the Old World: tomatoes to Italy, chili peppers throughout Asia, cacao wherever a sweet tooth craves chocolate. Indeed, potatoes and maize now rank with wheat and rice as the world's
principal crops. "The sweetness of corn on the cob is sweeter for knowing the long, winding way by which it has come into one's hands," observe Foster and Cordell. Featuring
contributions by Gary Nabhan, Alan Davidson, and others, Chilies to Chocolate will increase readers' appreciation of the foods we all enjoy, of the circuitous routes by which they have become part of
our diets, and of the vital role that Native Americans have played in this process.
From the discovery of vanilla to how chilies spread since Columbus, this is packed with culinary lore and regional history, and will complement the shelf of any food enthusiast who loves history.
If the ecology movement is about saving the planet, then these are food ecologists, committed to saving the planet's agricultural capacity.
Los Angeles Times
The stories of these plant foods 'read like biological and historical whodunits,' say the editors and they are right. This is a most readable book. Botanists, biologists, food historians, and anyone who cooks and eats will enjoy it.
Academic Library Book Review
Both a celebration of the rich diversity of New World foods and a thought-provoking look at some of the issues facing agriculture in the future, this volume is a timely and stimulating read.
Wilson Library Bulletin
Introduction, by Nelson Foster & Linda S. Cordell
1. Europeans' Wary Encounter with
Tomatoes, Potatoes, and Other New World Foods, by Alan Davidson
2. The Renaissance of Amaranth, by Daniel K. Early
3. Vanilla: Nectar of the Gods, by Patricia Rain
4. Maize: Gift from
America's First Peoples, by Walton C. Galinat
5. Beans of the Americas, by Lawrence Kaplan & Lucille N. Kaplan
6. The Peripatetic Chili Pepper: Diffusion of the Domesticated Capsicums Since
Columbus, by Jean Andrews
7. Forgotten Roots of the Incas, by Noel Vietmeyer
8. A Brief History and Botany of Cacao, by John A. West
9. Quinoa's Roundabout Journey to World Use, by John F.
Epilogue: Native Crops of the Americas: Passing Novelties or Lasting Contributions to Diversity? by Gary Paul Nabhan
Appendix: Food Plants of American Origin