Chilli Peppers: The True History of a World Conquest


ISBN-13 (Hardback); 9781000000000
Price (Hardback); £35.00 / $50.00
ISBN (eBook); 9781000000000
Price (eBook); Individual £35.00 / $50.00;  Institutional £35.00 / $50.00
Publication: 01/02/2027
Pages: 280
Format: 254 x 178mm
Readership :scholars and general readers
Illustration: colour illustrations

Image shown: Chilli or pepper plant (Capsicum annuum): fruiting stem. Watercolour. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.


The worldwide spread of genus Capsicum is a story of human enthusiasm for health-giving foods and fiery flavours. This book tells it all, from original sources, beginning with the spread of chillies around south and central America; their first known encounter with humans ten thousand years ago; their migration from virgin forest to cultivation; their first Atlantic crossing, from Hispaniola to Spain in 1493; their rapid spread beyond Europe to China, Africa and India; their astounding popularity in world cuisine in the 21st century. Why do we teach ourselves to like the chilli burn? How did this taste become a necessity and even an addiction? History provides some of the answers; nutrition studies, medicine and ethnobotany add much more. Maps, illustrations and a selection of recipes from cultures around the world show how the five cultivated species and the hundreds of varieties find their place in modern cuisines.

About the Author

Andrew Dalby

Andrew Dalby is a historian and linguist. He is the author of several books, including The Classical Cookbook (1996), Dangerous Tastes: the Story of Spices (2000), Language in Danger: The Loss of Linguistic Diversity and the Threat to Our Future (2003), Tastes of Byzantium: The Cuisine of a Legendary Empire (2010) and Bacchus: A Biography (2003). He studied classics and linguistics at St John’s College, Cambridge, and gained a PhD from London University.