A tasty history of the Southwest

  • Gardens of New Spain

  If you think fusion food was something California chefs cooked up in the 1980s, you’re off by a couple of centuries.

Gardens of New Spain opens in 1492, the year Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand kicked the Moors out of Spain. The Moors fled, but they had already left an indelible mark on Iberian cuisine: The soldiers who had settled in Spain in the 8th century brought lemons, sugarcane, durum wheat and rice from Syria, Persia and the lands beyond — and many of those foods headed across the Atlantic with Columbus.

Meanwhile, in the desert Southwest, native cuisine was undergoing its own kind of fusion as American Indians began adapting the corns-beans-and-squash diet from Mexico to their own harsh environment. In one nearly miraculous transformation, the Hopi turned corn — a Mexican native originally grown where 30 inches of rain fall each year — into a desert survivor that could thrive on six inches of rain a year by driving its main root eight feet into the ground to reach moisture. After the Spanish touched down in the Caribbean and pushed their way into the Southwest, what Dunmire calls a "cultural sublimation" took place. Old World onions found a place in native dishes, wheat could be substituted for corn in tortillas, and the chile, which the Spaniards packed along as they made their way up from Mexico, became the symbol of the Southwest.

Those new introductions added diversity, and dramatically increased productivity in native gardens by adding winter crops to the growing cycle: "Cold-hardy Mediterranean plants such as wheat, garlic, onions, lettuce, and peas could be sown in late fall or winter, then harvested long before corn or beans were ready to pick, in effect nearly doubling the season for fresh produce."

Gardens of New Spain covers so much territory that it’s sometimes difficult to digest everything, but the book is certain to make you look at your next meal differently.

Gardens of New Spain: How Mediterranean Plants and Foods Changed America
William W. Dunmire, 392 pages, hardcover, $65.00, softcover, $24.95: University of Texas Press, 2004.

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Located on top of Sugarloaf Mtn. 5 mi W of downtown Colorado Springs, CO. $80,000.
  • The Draper Natural History Museum (DNHM) at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, WY, invites applications for Curator of Natural Science. Seeking...
  • in Southwest Colorado. $60K plus costs.
  • with six+ years of experience, broad knowledge of home and facilities maintenance. 207-805-4157, https://spark.adobe.com/page/8R7Ag/
  • Seeking full-time experienced farmer on 52-acre organic farm Union, OR. [email protected]
  • Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a Government Affairs Manager that is passionate about Western communities and the protection of the natural environment to support...
  • Metal roofing & siding, thru-fastened & seam profiles. Stronger, more attractive and longer lasting than any other panel on the market. 970-275-4070.
  • The Central Colorado Conservancy, a nationally accredited and state certified land trust, is seeking an innovative and dynamic Executive Director to guide the Conservancy into...
  • Forever Our Rivers Foundation seeks a driven and creative individual to lead this national movement for river health. Deadline 6/14/19.
  • We are looking for an experienced campaigner to lead our work challenging the oil and fracked gas industry, specifically focused on fighting fossil fuel expansion...
  • 7/12-7/14/19 in Taos, NM. With over 21 workshops and keynote speaker, poet Arthur Sze.
  • Badlands Conservation Alliance is seeking an Executive Director. For job description visit https://www.badlandsconservationalliance.org/hiring.
  • Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • Spectacular views of snowcapped Sierras. 15 miles from Kings Canyon/Sequoia Parks. 47 acres with 2 homes/75' pool/gym/patios/gardens. 1670 sq.ft. main home has 3 bdrm/1 bath....
  • Beautiful off-the-grid passive solar near the CDT. 9.4 acres, north of Silver City. Sam, 575.388.1921
  • at RCAC. See the full description at https://bit.ly/2WJ3HvY Apply at [email protected]
  • Newly refurbished and tuned. Older model, great condition. Gasoline engine. Chains on tires. Heavy duty for mountain snow. Call cellphone and leave message or email.
  • Camping, hiking, backpacking, R2R2R, Tarahumara Easter, Mushroom Festival, www.coppercanyontrails.org.
  • Clean off, cool off & drink. Multiple spray patterns. Better than you imagine. Try it.
  • Actively introduce students to Experiential Education, Outdoor Recreation, and Sustainability while engaging and challenging them to learn and participate in these diverse opportunities. Room, board,...