Peppers of the Americas: The Remarkable Capsicums That Forever Changed Flavor (Hardcover)
I fully recognize that this book may hold only niche appeal, but I am that niche. I have been saying for YEARS that I wanted an encyclopedia of chili peppers, and finally, someone wrote it! Though it has some recipes, this is less a cookbook and more an illustrated guide to everything you might ever want to know about the chili. Nerds who will appreciate this: you know who you are.— From Caitlin L. Staff Picks
Winner of the 2018 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Cookbook Award for "Reference & Technical"
A beautiful culinary and ethnobotanical survey of the punch-packing ingredient central to today's multi-cultural palate, with more than 40 pan-Latin recipes from a three-time James Beard Award-winning author and chef-restaurateur.
From piquillos and shishitos to padrons and poblanos, the popularity of culinary peppers (and pepper-based condiments, such as Sriracha and the Korean condiment gochujang) continue to grow as more consumers try new varieties and discover the known health benefits of Capsicum, the genus to which all peppers belong. This stunning visual reference to peppers now seen on menus, in markets, and beyond, showcases nearly 200 varieties (with physical description, tasting notes, uses for cooks, and beautiful botanical portraits for each). Following the cook's gallery of varieties, more than 40 on-trend Latin recipes for spice blends, salsas, sauces, salads, vegetables, soups, and main dishes highlight the big flavors and taste-enhancing capabilities of peppers.
About the Author
MARICEL PRESILLA is the chef-owner of two pan-Latin restaurants (Cucharama and Zafra) and a cooking atelier (Ultramarinos), president/founder of Gran Cacao Company (a cacao importer), a frequent contributor to Saveur, and a former medieval Spanish history professor (Rutgers). She has been profiled in the New York Times and Washington Post, and led the White House's Latin culture showcase in 2010. She was named the James Beard Best Chef Mid-Atlantic in 2012; her opus, Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, won the James Beard Book of the Year in 2013; and she was inducted into the Beard Foundation's Hall of Fame in 2015.
“Maricel is such an inspiring chef, and is so dedicated to understanding as much about the ingredients she uses as possible. This book is an amazing achievement and a resource that I will be using for years.”
—José Andrés, chef/owner, minibar by José Andrés and ThinkFoodGroup
“Maricel Presilla’s Peppers of the Americas is a deeply researched, eye-opening, beautiful guide to one of the world’s most intriguing foods.”
—Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking
“Maricel Presilla—the planet’s foremost authority on the cuisines of Latin America—has written the most definitive guide to peppers ever created. It is an essential book for every cook who cares about flavor.”
—James Oseland, author of Cradle of Flavor and Top Chef Masters judge
“In this thorough work, Maricel Presilla brings her fine scholarship to an ingredient that virtually all Americans use, deftly traveling a great distance and wresting clarity from complexity. A truly impressive book.”
—Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy and In My Kitchen
“Presilla is both “botanical sleuth” and chef, presenting a scholarly and stunning visual guide to peppers in this definitive guide.”
—PW Starred Review
"Our test kitchen's go-to chile pepper resource!"
—Martha Stewart Living
"Like Betty Fussell’s The Story of Corn, Presilla’s work is essential to our understanding of an ingredient that’s native to the Americas. It’s also absorbing and just plain fun: a hot summertime read for pepper people everywhere."
“There’s an astounding amount of information here—historical, botanical, and even linguistic. It almost accidentally functions as a crash course in food archaeology, and contains an explainer on the hot hot heat of capsacin, the compound that makes food spicy. And somehow Presilla manages to present the vast majority of this potentially very dry subject matter almost conversationally, as though she is walking you through her backyard pepper pots, glass of wine in hand, telling you anecdotes about each. … The whole package is enough to make me reconsider single subject cookbooks. While I still think some can veer flabby, afterthoughts of publishers’ trying to plug up gaps in their catalog, Peppers of the Americas is different. Scholarly, even. And anything that manages to be well-researched and charming will always have a spot on my bookshelves—especially when it’s a book as spicy as this one.”
—Paula Forbes, Food52
"You don’t expect a botanical ethnography on peppers to send shivers up your spine, but Peppers of the Americas does just that. With academic rigor, Presilla examines the Capsicum genus’ pre-Hispanic origins, delving headlong into the epic collision between the Old and New World that sent peppers across the globe."
"For the chile lover, the pepper obsessive and the cook who wants to learn everything there is to know about a single subject, this is the book."
—NPR's Here & Now Best Cookbooks of 2017