America's First Cuisines

Front Cover
University of Texas Press, 1994 - Social Science - 276 pages

After long weeks of boring, perhaps spoiled sea rations, one of the first things Spaniards sought in the New World was undoubtedly 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. Written in easily digested prose, America's First Cuisines will appeal to food enthusiasts as well as scholars.

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

This book is amazing for the research and writing detail that the author did. I highly recommend it. No google search or wiki here! Deep scholarly work over years of research, the likes we will never see again. Who ate what and who wrote about it. Then on the the politics of food, what was worth transporting and what wasn't. Great work. 

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I immediately ordered the book for my wife's birthday from the Google scholar preview.. For those of us who have walked the land with native guides, Bernal's
description is a vertible recipe source
. I recognize the basis of many modern Mexican dishes. And
new ones to try. I have had wonderful atole's from the atole shops and street vendors in Mexico and Guatemala, but this list goes beyond. Same for the corn masa dishes and breads and a ground pumpkin and masa bread Coe describes elsewhere. I have restocked my supply of winter squashes
and easily toasted some of the dried seeds. I look forward to trying to replicate a few.

Other editions - View all

About the author (1994)

Sophie D. Coe (1933-1994) held a Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard University. She researched and written extensively on the cuisines of native Latin America.

Bibliographic information