There are some of us who can't even stand to look at them--and others who can't live without them: chillies have been searing tongues and watering eyes for centuries in innumerable global cuisines. In this book, Heather Arndt Anderson explores the many ways nature has attempted to take the roofs of our mouths off--from the deceptively vegetal-looking jalapeno to the fire-red ghost pepper--and the many ways we have gleefully risen to the challenge.
Anderson tells the story of the spicy berry's rise to prominence, showing that it was cultivated and venerated by the ancient people of Mesoamerica for millennia before Spanish explorers brought it back to Europe. She traces the chilli's spread along trading routes to every corner of the globe, and she explores the many important spiritual and cultural links that we have formed with it, from its use as an aphrodisiac to, in more modern times, an especially masochistic kind of eating competition. Ultimately, she uses the chili to tell a larger story of global trade, showing how the spread of spicy cuisine can tell us much about the global exchange--and sometimes domination--of culture. Mixing history, botany, and cooking, this entertaining read will give your bookshelf just the kick it needs.