cover image Peppers of the Americas: The Remarkable Capsicums That Forever Changed Flavor

Peppers of the Americas: The Remarkable Capsicums That Forever Changed Flavor

Maricel E. Presilla, photos by Romulo Yanse, illus. by Julio Figueroa. Ten Speed

A James Beard Best Chef, Presilla (Gran Cocina Latina, The New Taste of Chocolate) presents a botanical compendium and culinary history of peppers. A specialist in Latin American and Spanish foods, Presilla describes the spread of peppers, “the great staple food of the New World,” via the Spanish conquest and the Portuguese spice trade. This historical-almanac-cum-cookbook celebrates “Columbus’ tongue-burning novelty” in 40 regional recipes. Chipotle-vanilla sauce accompanies stuffed piquillo peppers; chicken fills a zesty adobo tamale pie; Oaxacan tomatillo and dried chile de arbol salsa along with marinated, glazed slow-roasted slab bacon in a hot hibiscus and chocolate adobo are also featured. A twist on fruit salad is the Guatemalan-inspired melon and pineapple sprinkled with dried chile cobanero and cacao nibs. Seafood recipes include ceviche, calamari, and octopus. Presilla draws on her extensive “backyard pepper gallery” of 250 varieties, photographed and captioned with information on regional origins, flavor profiles, and culinary uses. There are tips on pepper growing, handling, drying, smoking, storing, fermenting, and pickling—also on making chile salts, dried powders, and pastes. Presilla is both “botanical sleuth” and chef, presenting a scholarly and stunning visual guide to peppers in this definitive guide. (July)