A Desert Feast
232 pages, 7 1/2 x 9 1/4
128 color photographs
Release Date:22 Sep 2020

A Desert Feast

Celebrating Tucson's Culinary Heritage

The University of Arizona Press

Southwest Book of the Year Award Winner

Pubwest Book Design Award Winner

Drawing on thousands of years of foodways, Tucson cuisine blends the influences of Indigenous, Mexican, mission-era Mediterranean, and ranch-style cowboy food traditions. This book offers a food pilgrimage, where stories and recipes demonstrate why the desert city of Tucson became American’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy.

Both family supper tables and the city’s trendiest restaurants feature native desert plants and innovative dishes incorporating ancient agricultural staples. Award-winning writer Carolyn Niethammer deliciously shows how the Sonoran Desert’s first farmers grew tasty crops that continue to influence Tucson menus and how the arrival of Roman Catholic missionaries, Spanish soldiers, and Chinese farmers influenced what Tucsonans ate.

White Sonora wheat, tepary beans, and criollo cattle steaks make Tucson’s cuisine unique. In A Desert Feast, you’ll see pictures of kids learning to grow food at school, and you’ll meet the farmers, small-scale food entrepreneurs, and chefs who are dedicated to growing and using heritage foods. It’s fair to say, “Tucson tastes like nowhere else.”

Carolyn Niethammer learned to love and understand the West growing up in small-town northern Arizona. She has spent her life writing about the foods and people of the Southwest in award-winning ethnobotanies, cookbooks, and biographies. She leads Tucson gastronomy tours covering everything from edible wild plants to the latest farm-to-table restaurant offerings with heritage ingredients. The most recent of her five cookbooks is Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants.
Foreword by Jonathan Mabry
Introduction: Why Tucson is a Unesco City of Gastronomy
Prehistoric and Early History of Wild Foods: Eating off the Land
Traditional Early Agriculture: 4,000 Years in the Fields of the Santa Cruz Basin
Europeans, Mexicans, and Chinese: Bringing New Foods and Traditions
Gardening in the Desert: Growing Your Own Vegetables, Tucson Style
Small- Scale Commercial Agriculture: Contracting Tucson’s Foodshed
Tucson’s Artisan Food Producers
Our Sonoran Culinary Heritage— It’s a Tucson Thing
Food Justice
Epilogue. in the Coronavirus Crisis: How Tucson United to Feed the City
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