The Story of Chili Powder

image courtesy MarxFoods.com
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Taught by Sarah Lohman

Dubbed a “historic gastronomist,” Sarah Lohman recreates historic recipes as a way to make a personal connection with the past. She chronicles her explorations in culinary history on her blog, Four Pounds Flour, and her work has been featured in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She appears on the Cooking Channel's Food: Fact or Fiction? and is 1/2 of the Masters of Social Gastronomy with co-founder Jonathan Soma.

Currently, she works with museums and galleries around the city to create public programs focused on food, including institutions such as The American Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Science, Boston, and The Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Her first book, Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, was published with Simon & Schuster in 2016. 

 

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What was chili’s path from a local dish of the Southwest to an easy weeknight meal for millions of Americans? There was an era when black pepper was considered spicy; but today, we make ourselves sweat with the hottest chili pepper blends. Why? Can science offer an explanation for our obsession with heat? 

From traditional spices to national chili cook-offs, we'll discover how the distribution of commercialized chili powder affected our eating habits and how it fits into our national pantry.

We'll look at the roots of chili in Mexican cuisine, as well as the "Chili Queens" of San Antonio. We'll learn how chili made its national debut at the 1893 world's fair, and how this Tex Mex dish became a part of Americana from Washington DC to Cincinnati to Texas. 

This class will include a tasting of chili cooked from a recipe in the first Mexican-American cookbook published in 1908. Students will also learn to make chili powder from scratch in class that they'll get to take home.

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