In This Review

America's First Cuisines
America's First Cuisines
By Sophie D. Coe
University of Texas Press, 1994, 288 pp

A pioneering book written, the author says, to "celebrate the contribution made by the original inhabitants of the New World . . . to the food of the contemporary world." Trained as an anthropologist at Harvard, Coe demonstrates an impressive interdisciplinary reach (archaeology, botany, zoology, medicine, economics, and history). She wears her erudition lightly, however, and she writes well and with an infectious enthusiasm. At the core of her book, Coe provides vivid descriptions of the Aztec, Maya, and Inca cuisines, and the manner in which food was prepared, stored, and preserved. She tells a marvelously ingenious story that will appeal to anyone interested in the history of the hemisphere and curious about the origin of the ingredients on their dinner plate.