Top positive review
57 people found this helpful
the INcomplete chile pepper book
on February 4, 2010
this is a good book for those who are not already familiar with chiles (for which "peppers" is a misnomer), have limited gardening experience and/or reference materials, and who want a few recipes wrapped up into a sort of "one stop shopping" text.
it is also a great book for those who wish primarily to concentrate on chile gardening, and who have exhausted more rudimentary texts.
the book offers a modest history of chiles. the cultivation information is pretty extensive and fascinating, and may prove to enhance my gardening experience this season. the canning and preservation sections are very informative, and if you like a sampling of specialty recipes in something other than a cookbook (which i really do not), there are some good looking ones here.
the section actually cataloging individual varieties of chiles left me flat. here dewitt and bosland have listed the "top hundred (or so) chile peppers for the garden", including a brief description of each. the descriptions are often VERY brief, and uninformative. there is no consistency in what can be expected from them, such as quantified heat levels (expressed in "scoville heat units"), flavor characteristics, sizes, expected yields, and typical days to maturity.
the greatest issue i have with this section of the book is the inclusion of only these varieties, leaving out a number of interesting and flavorful chiles, among them hungarians (indeed the only mention of paprika, was in the similarly incomplete "heat scale for chile varieties and commercial products"), and the "fish pepper" (a chesapeake bay favorite). notably, the "peter pepper" IS included, with two sentences ignoring any horticultural, or culinary qualities, and focusing solely on what some might find an unsavory description of its shape and nomenclature (apparently written to enlighten those who might not infer it).
i accept that buying online leaves one with the responsibility for making semi-informed choices and living with them, and that i could have gone to a brick and mortar bookstore, to peruse the contents of this manual. that said, i would have preferred a more exhaustive encyclopedic reference work dealing with the varieties of chiles, and might gladly have purchased as a separate text, the horticultural and preservation information contained herein (the best part of the book). the recipes could have been included in yet another, more extensive specialty cookbook, at a modest price, which i would not have been inclined to put on my shelf.
on the whole, this book is a well illustrated coffee table entertainment, with a 148 page chile horticulture and preservation narrative grafted into the middle of it, and i probably would not have purchased it as it stands, had i leafed through it.
i guess i mainly take exception to the misleading title, as this is certainly not a "complete" chile pepper book.
do not let me stop you from buying it, though- it may be exactly what you are looking for. the gardening and preservation section alone is probably worth the amazon price.