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Precious Cargo

How Foods From the Americas Changed the World

List Price: $18.95

November 10, 2015 | Paperback | 7 x 10, 400 Pages | ISBN 9781619026025
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Winner of the 2015 International Association of Culinary Professionals Book Award in Culinary History

Precious Cargo tells the fascinating story of how Western Hemisphere foods conquered the globe and saved it from not only mass starvation, but culinary as well. Focusing heavily American foods—specifically the lowly crops that became commodities, plus one gobbling protein source, the turkey—Dewitt describes how these foreign and often suspect temptations were transported around the world, transforming cuisines and the very fabric of life on the planet.

Organized thematically by foodstuff, Precious Cargo delves into the botany, zoology, and anthropology connected to New World foods, often uncovering those surprising individuals who were responsible for their spread and influence, including traders, brutish conquerors, a Scottish millionaire obsessed with a single fruit, and a British lord and colonial governor with a passion for peppers, to name a few.

Precious Cargo is a must read for foodies and historians alike.

DAVE DEWITT is the author or coauthor of 45 books combined with a 20-year career of editing food magazines. He is a nationally-known proponent of chili peppers and spicy foods, and the founding producer of the major trade and consumer show for the industry, the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show, now in its 25th year. He lives in New Mexico.


“The author happily admits that he is a chili fanatic, so it is with chili peppers that he is most sympathetic and interesting. An amazing journey… ultimately satisfying.” —Kirkus

“This is a spectacular book.” —Food and Farm

“DeWitt’s convivial, unpretentious approach and clear enjoyment of his topic make this assemblage a treasure to dip into again and again.” —Weekly Alibi

“…Foodies who are history buffs or interested in anthropology, botany, or ethnology will devour this informative and vibrantly written tome… [A] must-have volume for food lovers.” —Local iQ

[Dave DeWitt] offers a lively yet scholarly discussion of how these foods were transported around the world and accompanies its discussions with color images and illustrations to make for a lively, involving culinary history. Even more compelling: it arranges its discussions by foods and includes the botany and anthropology of New World foods, making for a discussion that’s highly recommended for any fan of culinary history.” —The Midwest Book Review

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