The Story of Chili Powder
Taught by Sarah Lohman
Sarah Lohman is a culinary historian and the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed book Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine. She focuses on the history of American food as a way to access stories of women, immigrants, and people of color, and to address issues of racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Her work has been featured inTheWall Street Journal andThe New York Times, as well as onAll Things Considered; and she has presented across the country, from the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, DC to The Culinary Historians of Southern California. She is also 1/2 of the Masters of Social Gastronomy, a monthly food science and history talk at Caveat NYC, with Brainery co-founder Jonathan Soma.
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.