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Hot Peppers: The Story of Cajuns and Capsicum

Hot Peppers: The Story of Cajuns and Capsicum
Richard Schweid
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press
Publication Date: 

paper, 171 p., $16.95

Charming yet alarming, this is a personal narrative of a field trip into the heart of hot pepper growing in southern Louisiana, centered on the hot sauce producers and their former growers. It is also a disquieting picture of the erosion of Cajun culture by the boom-and-bust oil industry and patterns of change in agriculture. Travel with the author through the back roads, farms and industrial tracts of this French enclave is described in lively writing about events, conversation and history. Modestly updated from its original 1980 edition, the text does not attempt to reflect advances in science, medicine and taxonomy recorded in the survey by Bosland and Votava's Peppers: Vegetable and Spice Capsicums (2000). This book is a delightful and wistful read that is as much about people as plants, and will be welcomed by the legions of aficionados of this Native American spice.

— John Swenson, Plant Collector and Master Gardener at the Chicago Botanic Garden.