Chinese cuisine without chile peppers seems unimaginable. Entranced by the fiery taste, diners worldwide have fallen for Chinese cooking. In China, chiles are everywhere, from dried peppers hanging from eaves to Mao’s boast that revolution would be impossible without chiles, from the eighteenth-century novel Dream of the Red Chamber to contemporary music videos. Indeed, they are so common that many Chinese assume they are native. Yet there were no chiles anywhere in China prior to the 1570s, when they were introduced from the Americas.
In this recording, Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University, Safwan M. Masri leads a conversation between Brian Dott, author of The Chile Pepper in China: A Cultural Biography, and SupChina’s Kaiser Kuo.