Saturday, September 16, 2017

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

I'm not always a fan of single subject cookbooks because, what can I tell you, I bore easily. This cookbook, however, is the phenomenal exception to that rule. Written by New Jersey resident Maricel E. Presilla, who grows more than 200 varieties of peppers at her home, Peppers of the Americas: The Remarkable Capsicums that Forever Changed Flavor is the only pepper book that you are ever going to need. If you are familiar with some of her previous works, such as Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, The New Taste of Chocolate, Revised: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes, and Mola: Cuna Life Stories and Art, then you are well aware of the beauty and quality of her work. This book is invaluable to the serious gardener, cook, and pepper lover, and is jam-packed with information. Her writing style is thoughtful and engaging. The photography is lovely, those that coordinate with recipes are mouthwatering, and there is a photo of each fresh and dried pepper, along with the history of each as well as information on taste, where each stands on the Scoville scale, and how best to use them.
I particularly liked the gallery of dried peppers as well as the copious information on not just drying, but smoking, storing, and pickling, as well as detailed instructions on how to make salts, powdered chilies, and pastes. Salts have become my passion of late, so this is going to be one of the first things that I try. If, like me, you have an interest in roasting peppers, you can learn how to do so; if your interest is in making pepper vinegars or other condiments, you can learn that as well. I was intrigued with the pepper spiced pineapple vinegar, and will be giving that a try.
In addition to being both guide and encyclopedia of peppers, as well as containing an excellent resource guide, the last third of the book contains recipes, one appearing more delicious than the other. There are so many that interested me I can't possibly list them here, but after I've made salts and vinegar, I'm going to try the Tamale Pie filled with Chicken and Chili Ancho Adobo.

Additionally, I appreciated the section on growing peppers, whether you choose to do so via seed, or purchased plants. I am an avid gardener, find peppers relatively easy to grow, but tend to stick with the mundane. This book has changed that for me. There is a list of where to obtain seeds for some of the more rare varieties, and I'm going to be making good use of that. I'm also going to be consulting the book come spring when it's time to plant.
I can't say enough about this book. If you have any interest in peppers at all, you must have this one.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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1 comment:

Alycia Nichols said...

I know you're going to think I've been hibernating under a rock, but until 2 weeks ago I'd never eaten salsa verde!!!!!!! Me!!!! The girl whose former name is Rodriguez!!! Who eats habanero peppers like they're pickles!!! Who puts salsa on everything but Froot Loops!!! And then I discovered that wonderful flavor and just about lost my mind with joy!!!!!!!!!! I'm going to try that hot salsa verde recipe if I can get my hands on some tomatillos. They're not readily available here in the 'burbs where we live. Mmmmmm.....can't wait! Beautiful pictures here! Truly the epitome of "mouthwatering"!!!😋