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Three self-described "gastronauts" plumb climate change through the piquant prism of chile peppers.The journey is the destination as the earnest trio launch their "spice ship" throughout the United States and Mexico to learn how shifting weather patterns have been affecting the noble pepper's destiny-and the fate of those who rely on the crop. The authors-a chef, an agroecologist and an ethnobotanist-rely on listening (and, of course, eating) during their one-year odyssey, harvesting anecdotes to better understand the global dilemma. "We had a hunch that climate change wasn't just out there-in the polar ice caps and in receding glaciers-but in here, in our food system," they write. On their travels, the authors meet men like Fernando Nino Estudillo, a spice trader in Sonora who describes his recent quandary: "I've been ten years in the business; most years I drive truckloads of chiltepines to Tijuana myself. Only this last year has the wild chile crop ever failed me...I didn't even make a single trip to the border." But it's not all serious-the trio relishes chiles, after all. In Florida, as they prepare to dig into a jar of datil peppers in white vinegar, they write, "We smiled at one another like old junkies who have just discovered that someone left a couple of joints in their midst."The occasionally florid writing notwithstanding, the book provides well-crafted regional recipes and edifying passages about the surveyed chiles.
"Chasing Chiles makes you feel like you are riding shotgun on Gary, Kraig and Kurt's Spice Ship! This book is a agri-culinary-eco-botanical odyssey that brings some of the most important issues about food, eating, and the impact of climate change to the fore in a way that is both engaging and compelling. A truly pleasurable read for anyone who appreciates authentic flavors and the pleasures of the table--and of course, the wisdom of our farmers. Practical principles we can all "swallow" is the guiding light here."--Tracey Ryder, CEO, Edible Communities
"Chasing Chiles is truly one of the most inspiring and unique treatments of climate change in current literature. The book provides us with an entirely fresh and critical perspective on this contentious issue directly from farmers and chefs, focusing on one particular crop. And the proposed solution to this complex problem is both plain and prudent: 'Eat and farm as if the earth matters,' as we should have been doing all along."--Frederick Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.
"This book will fascinate not only chile aficionados, but also those students of biodiversity who are alarmed at the disastrous effect that climate change is wreaking on our food crops in general. With this book in hand, I happily climbed aboard the authors' Spice Ship to embark on their personal odyssey, and saw up close the devastating effects of climate change on the environment, farmers, and their crops whose very existence is at stake."--Diana Kennedy, author of The Essential Cuisines of Mexico and The Art of Mexican Cooking
"An instant classic of chile pepper lore, Chasing Chiles is the best social history of chiles since Amal Naj's Peppers from 1992. In fact, I think it's better-because it's not just journalism; it has fascinating science and entertaining humor as well. Highly recommended!"--Dave DeWitt, "The Pope of Peppers" and coauthor of The Complete Chile Pepper Book
"The noble chile--and its equally noble growers--illustrate the key principle we need for a world stressed by an ever-more-fickle climate: resilience. This book will make you understand the situation far better than most dry tomes on the subject."--Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth, Founder of 350.org
"Chasing Chiles is nothing short of a brilliant ethno-bio-culinary convergence. It accomplishes what so very few books do; marrying place to flavor and science, the result is a visceral understanding of the profound impact climate change has on the global community and the foods that we always seem to take for granted. Kurt Friese, Kraig Kraft, and Gary Nabhan have produced a must-read classic for all time."--Elissa Altman, founder of PoorMansFeast.com
"How can our hemisphere's "spice of life" be ignored after reading Chasing Chiles? I mean, what will there be to live for?"--Wes Jackson, President, The Land Institute
"All food has a story behind it--a story about people, culture, land, ecology, and economy. Chasing Chiles looks at the stories behind 6 chile pepper varieties, and the land, culture, food traditions, and farmers that, together, make their existence possible, and the changing climate that threatens all. But this isn't just about vulnerability; it is a book about the hope and resilience we create when we eat food with a story that makes us proud."--Josh Viertel, President, Slow Food USA
"A treasure trove of chile lore and a wake-up call to everyone who cares about real food, Chasing Chiles will amuse and alarm you. These three gastronauts carry a wealth of culinary and botanical knowledge, and their journeys in their Spice Ship uncover an incredibly diverse world of chiles that is changing with breathtaking speed. Stop worrying about the impact of climate change on future harvests; cross your fingers for this year's instead."--Rowan Jacobsen, author of American Terroir and Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis
Gary Nabhan is the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona, as well as the permaculture designer and orchard-keeper of Almuniya de los Zopilotes Experimental Farm in Patagonia, Arizona. Widely acknowledged as a pioneer in the local-food movement and grassroots seed conservation, Nabhan was honored by Utne Reader in 2011 as one of twelve people making the world a better place to live. A recipient of a MacArthur Genius Award, his twenty-four books have been translated into six languages.
Kraig Kraft is an agroecologist and writer based in Managua, Nicaragua. He completed his PhD on the origins and diversity of wild and domesticated chile peppers at the University of California, Davis. Kraft is the author of a popular blog titled Chasing Chiles, and has written for several regional magazines, including Edible Sacramento, as well as technical journals, and is currently working on a coffee sustainability project in Central America. He is the author of Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots along the Pepper Trail, along with Gary Paul Nabhan and Kurt Michael Friese.
This book is a great way to learn about the environmental impacts climate change has had on our planet.
As much as I wanted to like this book, and as sympathetic as I may be to the message they're trying to convey, I found it more than a little disappointing.
The book is hard to classify--travelogue, food history, recipe book--it has all of these elements and more.
Great book on Chiles, the cultures they come from, and the ecologies of their cultivation and origin, and how climate change and other changes over time have affected them all.Published 2 months ago by Chris Wisnoski
Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail tells the story of how hot peppers came to be cultivated and how climate change is impacting their production. Read morePublished on April 18, 2012 by Chicago Book Addict
I was disappointed at the obvious bias towards global warming. The way the book was written authors had already made up their minds on the issue before they even went on the... Read morePublished on January 30, 2012 by farmerben
If you are expecting a cookbook, then you will be disappointed. Chasing Chiles reminds me of a lot of shows that fascinate me on Public TV and The Food Network in that it examines... Read morePublished on December 27, 2011 by Daniel B. Slocum
First comment: this book was a wonderful--and sobering--look at climate change, as demonstrated by the effect on growing/harvesting chile peppers in the southern US and northern... Read morePublished on December 21, 2011 by Northern Trails
Really interesting concept for a book! You could almost argue that it's a little TOO specific of a concept, making it appeal only to "foodies" who are also partly interested in... Read morePublished on November 25, 2011 by Z. Freeman
"Chasing Chiles" is an odd mix of history, culinary guide to chiles peppers, and cautionary tale. I love all things related to hot peppers and this book presents them in a... Read morePublished on November 10, 2011 by C. Hill
I enjoyed reading this book mainly just to hear the lamentations from other gardeners in North America. Read morePublished on October 28, 2011 by Crease in the Page
Nearly 15 years ago, The New Yorker published a lengthy article on chile peppers. Now comes a book that covers even more spicy territory. Read morePublished on July 27, 2011 by Scott T. Rivers