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Chilies to Chocolate: Food the Americas Gave the World Paperback – July 1, 1992

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

When European explorers and settlers arrived in the New World, they discovered foods that were unknown outside the Western Hemisphere. Chilies to Chocolate traces the biology and history of some of these foods, including tomatoes, potatoes, vanilla, maize, beans, chili peppers, and chocolate. Contributors discuss how the original species that were cultivated by indigenous populations have undergone genetic, agricultural, and culinary changes for adaptation to today's global consumption. In the epilog, the author laments the "Europeanization of the American landscape," the altering of the social organization of native peoples, the loss of most of the original native stock, and the hazards of monocultural agriculture. See also Seeds of Change ( LJ 10/1/91) for additional perspectives on how the agricultural transformation altered the ethnic makeup and power structures of the world. Recommended for all collections.
- Irwin Weintraub, Rutgers Univ. Libs., Piscataway, N.J.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"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." —The Bookwatch"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
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press (July 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816513244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816513246
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,101,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is just what it purports to be in the preface: a series of stand-alone articles taken from a program presented at the American Academy of Sciences. Therefore, it is not a comprehensive treatment of all foods from the Americas. What it does cover are in-depth chapters on various American foods that the authors deem to be most important, especially in the future. While I didn't find the book difficult to put down between readings, I was always eager to pick it up again.
I am listing the chapter titles here because I think they are an excellent representation of what is actually covered in the book: Europeans' Wary Encounter with Tomatoes, Potatoes, and Other New World Foods; The Renaissance of Amaranth; Vanilla, the Nectar of the Gods; Maize, the Gift from America's First Peoples; Beans of the Americas; The Chili Pepper, and Diffusion of the Domesticated Capsicums Since Columbus; Forgotten Roots (plant roots) of the Incas; The History and Botany of Cacao; Quinoa's Roundabout Journey to World Use; and the Epilogue: Native Crops of the Americas, Passing Novelties, or Lasting Contributions to Diversity.
The book could have been improved by a short section of color photographs of the plants discussed, showing what they are, and how they grow. I didn't know what amaranth was, and had to look it up elsewhere. Even though I have eaten quinoa, other people might not know what it is. But to be fair, the authors come right out and say that this book is far from a comprehensive treatment, and they assume that interested readers can do supplementary research on their own (very easy with an on-line encyclopaedia).
I began this book with a fair background knowledge of the subject; yet, I learned a lot of new information.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this because it was coauthored by my neighbor Linda Cordell. Plus, I got it used and the price was right. Because we are finding more and more evidence of trade between the native Americans of Mexico and the native Americans of the Southern states from Arizona to Alabama - specifically in chocolate, bird feathers and shells - I thought the book would be a good read. And it was.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not a cookbook, but if you love to read about food history & culture, this one is a must-read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good look into some of the history American food. Primarily focusing on the assimilation of specific foods into European and Asia culture via the New World exploration. Some information about the native American use of these foods as well. Foods of interest include: vanilla, amaranth, chili peppers and cacao.
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By A Customer on May 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
A book like this is greatly needed by the americas, since Europe still believes that she has given everything to us. Unfortunately, the book is too short. A broader, more profound history of produce, products, etc that America has given the world is still needed.
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