What the cookbook is: An in-depth reference book about all things peppers.
What the cookbook is not: Solely and simply a cookbook.
Who this book is best suited for: The curious and advanced home cook, the lover of peppers, or the master gardener. (Bonus for all three!)
Three words to sum it up: Comprehensive, educational, and stunning.
The Review: Peppers of the Americas
Large part history book, large part botanical text book, and small part cookbook, Maricel E. Presilla’s Peppers of the Americas: The Remarkable Capsicums that Forever Changed Flavor delves into the diverse life and, well, remarkable journey of the not-so-lonely pepper. The Capsicum aficionado, chef, and food writer delves into her subject and presents it beautifully.
I found myself genuinely intrigued by Presilla’s vast knowledge and writing style, and the content is about as expansive as the numerous pepper varieties highlighted in the book. When you read, you’ll learn about the history of peppers and how they migrated into the landscape and eventually the cuisines of cultures from all over the world. You’ll learn about the numerous varieties of peppers, how they’re grown, their flavor and heat profiles, and how best to use them. You’ll learn how peppers have painted flavorful strokes in American cuisine—and how Sriracha and Tabasco are just scratching the surface when it comes to application possibilities.
I was especially intrigued by the illustrations by Julio Figueroa and photographs by Romulo Yanes. The illustrations of flowering capsicum branches and budding peppers reminded me of vintage botanical prints. I resisted ripping out the pages and hanging them in my kitchen.
The recipes, though sparse, are just as interesting. Instruction includes pepper growing, handling, drying, fermenting, and pickling. Presilla also guides us though making chili salts, pastes, and powders and applying these products to infuse recipes like Fresh Fruit with Guatemalan Chile Cobán and Cacao Condiment, Grilled Japanese Spring Onions with Romesco, and Galician-Style Octopus with Paprika and Olive Oil.
Some might find the book intimidating or better suited for a coffee table than for the kitchen. I, personally, didn’t find the discipline to read the entire book, cover to cover, because of its fairly dense writing. However, I’m certain I will reference its pages in the future.
**I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.