America's First Cuisines
by Sophie D Coe
After long weeks of boring, perhaps spoiled sea rations, one of the first things Spaniards sought in the New World undoubtedly was fresh food. ... Show synopsis After long weeks of boring, perhaps spoiled sea rations, one of the first things Spaniards sought in the New World undoubtedly was fresh food. Probably they found the local cuisine strange at first, but soon they were sending American plants and animals around the world, eventually enriching the cuisine of many cultures. Drawing on original accounts by Europeans and native Americans, this pioneering work offers the first detailed description of the cuisines of the Aztecs, the Maya, and the Inca. Sophie Coe begins with the basic foodstuffs, including maize, potatoes, beans, peanuts, squash, avocados, tomatoes, chocolate, and chiles, and explores their early history and domestication. She then describes how these foods were prepared, served, and preserved, giving many insights into the cultural and ritual practices that surrounded eating in these cultures. Coe also points out the similarities and differences among the three cuisines and compares them to Spanish cooking of the period, which, as she usefully reminds us, would seem as foreign to our tastes as the American foods seemed to theirs. This first culinary history of pre-Columbian Latin America joins a growing discipline that combines the insights and information of many fields, including archaeology, anthropology, botany, zoology, medicine, history, sociology, and economics. Written in easily digested prose, it will appeal to food enthusiasts as well as scholars.