While not the pepper encyclopedia I was hoping for, I still found Maricel E. Presilla’s Peppers of the Americas to be informative and helpful. For those with the same hopes I had for the book, Presilla explains that this book is “not an encyclopedic catalog, but a highly subjective record of my own garden and kitchen encounters with these remarkable plants” (p.vii). Keep that in mind when considering whether or not to pick this one up.
The first eighty pages or so are full of dense text on history and archaeology related to peppers. There are then about 115 pages of peppers with pictures accompanied by Presilla’s subjective (see above), yet helpful notes—these pages are periodically peppered with pertinent prose on past and present particulars. About twenty-five pages of dried peppers written in similar fashion, seven pages of very general pepper gardening and tending, and 100 pages of working with peppers (vinegars, powders, recipes, etc.) conclude the book’s content.
I really like peppers, especially hot ones, and have grown and sold them in the past; so, I’ll probably find this book a bit more interesting than those who are looking for something more specific and complete. There were a tremendous number of varieties I’d not yet heard of, including a few I’m going to need to track down and try, and I appreciated Presilla sharing her experiences with them (taste, cooking, etc.). I certainly look forward to trying some of the sauces and ground spice mixes, but what I appreciate most are the properties and attributes of the fresh and dried pepper varieties.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.