Food Heritage and History

The Road to UNESCO – Tucson ambitiously seeks to be recognized as the first creative city for gastronomy in the country—but is it realistic?

By Heather Hoch

The winding, rocky road up to Gary Nabhan’s Patagonia home is definitely not suited for a sedan. It gets pretty hairy a couple of times while creeping up the path going just a few miles per hour upward, but there, at the top of a hill with a beautiful vantage of a couple local farms, is Nabhan’s rustic Southwestern home. The irony is that, in trying to figure out what makes Tucson a gastronomic destination, driving an hour ...

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Seeking Food Justice with Forgotten Fruit

Gary Nabhan wants to create new opportunities for immigrant populations in Patagonia while reviving a taste for forgotten desert fruits, and he needs your help.

There are 68 days left to join the effort to save our desert’s forgotten fruits – and create new green jobs in Arizona’s borderland while we’re at it.

The Project

MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award recipient and Edible Baja Arizona senior contributing editor Gary Nabhan is leading the charge with Barnraiser fundraiser. His goal? ...

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Pollinator Plants of the Desert Southwest

Native Milkweeds

The Desert Southwest harbors at least 41 of the 76 milkweed (Asclepias spp.) species known to exist in the lower 48 states. The species richness of milkweeds in this region is influenced by the tremendous diversity and range of vegetation types, soils, topography, climate, and the exposure of unusual rock types that occur over more than a 9,000 foot elevation range. The nectar of milkweed flowers is attractive to dozens of insects including bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, ...

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Mezcal: Everything but the Worm

 

It’s nearly the Day of the Dead in Mexico, which gives us the perfect excuse to get familiar with the country’s national spirit: tequila. Or wait, should that be mezcal? And what’s the difference, anyway? In this episode of Gastropod, Cynthia and Nicky travel to Mexico to explore the history and science of distilled agave, and get tangled up in a complex story of controversies, clones, and culture.

The agave, a spiky succulent native to Mexico, has been at the center ...

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Q&A from the Conservation You Can Taste Tour

These are various questions that were given to Gary Paul Nabhan by hosts of his tour Conservation You Can Taste. In particular, these came from representatives from the University of Ohio, and the University of Minnesota.

QUESTION: You have worked as a plant explorer and now you are an orchard-keeper of over 150 varieties of wild and heirloom fruits. What prompted your interest in food biodiversity?

NABHAN: Our Lebanese grandfather was an immigrant who grew trees in the Old World ...

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UA Helps Bring Seed Library Forum to Tucson

Ensuring community access to seeds remains a vital issue, and the UA is among those hosting the first International Seed Library Forum, a four-day event that kicks off on Sunday.

 

In 1981, the nonprofit seed conservation organization Native Seed/SEARCH hosted the first national grassroots seed conference in Tucson to better meet the community’s need for access to quality seeds.

Thirty-five years later, ensuring community access to seeds remains a ...

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MacArthur Fellow Gary Paul Nabhan

Nabhan combines his love for science and the written word. He contributed poems to the book “Sown by Hand.”

 

Gary Paul Nabhan, PhD was born in Indiana but he has spent most of his life in Arizona when not traveling to different parts of the world addressing indigenous foods and local communities.

Nabhan is a huge fan of food, culture and ecology, and he credits part of his passion to his Lebanese ancestry.

“If you know anything about the Lebanese, when ...

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A Tale of Two Views: Gary Nabhan and Joel Salatin

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Cowboy Keynote: Speaker urges honest discourse in land disputes

The most contentious disagreements over land management pit ranchers against environmentalists in range wars with endless back-and-forth battles.

But the stakeholders overwhelmingly agree with one another on a majority of issues, according to Gary Paul Nabhan, a professor at the University of Arizona, and this year’s keynote speaker for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

“If we share 90 percent of the same goals and values, why are we always jabbing at each other about that 10 percent where we ...

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A Tale of Two Foodsheds: Why Slow Money Strategies Matter

In Alleviating Poverty & Food Insecurity through Jumpstarting Farms & Food Microenterprises in Low Income Urban & Rural Communities: Field Notes from Arizona and New Mexico

 

It’s been roughly fifteen years since the food localization movement gained ground nationally, but some communities and states have lagged far behind others in recovering or newly building vibrant local food economies. And yet, many are still grappling with how true democratizing food systems and innovative financing can tangibly make a difference in ...

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Tucson, Arizona – An International Culinary Destination

The City of Gastronomy title is a part a UNESCO network of “Creative Cities” working together toward a common mission for cultural diversity and sustainable urban development. Joining the Creative Cities Network as a City of Gastronomy will highlight Tucson’s cultural assets on a global platform. It will also promote Tucson’s diverse cultural products in national and international markets by drawing attention to our vibrant community’s:

 

• numerous restaurants and chefs featuring indigenous ingredients used in traditional cooking;
• ...
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Commit to bringing food security to Tucson

 

Gary Paul Nabhan wants to put Tucson on the map as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, joining places like Popayán, Colombia, Chengdu, China, and Östersund, Sweden, as outposts of gastronomic excellence.

“We’re … prematurely celebrating what I think will be a major international designation for Tucson,” he said.

Nabhan hopes this title will bring recognition to Tucson’s vibrant, multiethnic gastronomy community and to the fact that the city has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation. In ...

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Middle Eastern Roots of Spice Trade: The Origins of Culinary Imperialism and Globalization

This lecture will present the hypothesis that every economic and social stage in the development of globalization was first initiated and refined among Semitic traders of aromatics, including Arab, Sephardic Jewish, Phoenecian and Nabatean spice merchants working in trancontinental networks over the last 3500 years.

The term culinary imperialism is introduced to recognize their wide-ranging influences on ethnic cuisines in the Old World and, after 1492, in the New World. This narrative also sheds new light on the roots of cooperation ...

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Desert wisdom and agriculture

By Kay Watt

A miller’s daughter spun gold thread from hay. Stone soup fed an entire town. A farmer grew tons of juicy melons in one of the harshest desert climates in the Americas. In each story, something is created from nothing. Of the three, only the story of the Chihuahuan melon farmer is neither fairy tale nor parable. Centuries-old technology known as olla irrigation breathes life into acres of melon vines, enabling them to thrive in an otherwise inhospitable ...

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31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Features Vaqueros From Baja, Mexico

The 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering will celebrate a little-known corner of Mexico — Baja California Sur — and its rich ranchero culture. From Jan. 26-31, 2015, the small high-desert town of Elko, Nev., will welcome Baja’s vaqueros, who will share with their American cowboy counterparts the traditional acoustic music, ranch cuisine, local art and craftwork, traditional lore and humor of their Californio roots.

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering has a long history of organizing cultural exchanges with people from around ...

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Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey

History Today | September 2014, issue 64:9, pp 58-59, review by Gail Simmons

The closest we armchair travellers normally get to the olfactory sensation of walking through the globe’s most fragrant souks is opening the doors of our spice cupboards. The bottles may be sealed shut but the aroma of their contents —cardamom and cumin, cinnamon and saffron, turmeric and vanilla — wafts towards our nostrils and for a brief moment we are not in our kitchens ...

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Rose to Damascus: A book about spices, their trade routes, and more

Santa Fe + New Mexican
By: Paul Weideman

Gary Paul Nabhan weaves a fascinating story in his new book, Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey. He tracks the pathways along which traders carried spices — piquant and pungent, delicious and dreamy — from their places of origin to the rest of the world. His account is peppered with recipes as well as essays on cardamom, cloves, Damascus rose, saffron, vanilla, tuocha pu-erh, and 20 other ...

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Blake Edgar interviews Gary Nabhan about his “spice odyssey”

Nabhan describes the critically important roles in setting the stages for globalized spice trade; and his preparation in writing Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey.

 

1. There have been several culinary histories published about spices and about trade along the Silk Road. What inspired you to write about this subject? A colleague of mine, ethnobotanist and food historian Gene Anderson, found a remarkable coincidence: an Arab/Persian lamb and garbanzo bean stew recipe that he and colleagues recorded in ...

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Come hear Gary speaking at Overland Trout, August 11th

Come hear local author Gary Nabhan tell of his 14 country “spice odyssey” Monday August 11 at Overland Trout in Sonoita from 6:00-7:30 pm

 

• Commentaries on Gary’s new book, Cumin, Camels and Caravans between dinner courses, with signing afterwards
• Adaptations of ancient Middle Eastern recipes from book by Chef Greg La Prad
• Limited seating, rsvp by August 9 to Overland Trout, 520 455-9316 or email Jennifer La Prad
• ...

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UA researcher and colleagues discover the birthplace of the chili pepper

In the Southwest, the chili pepper is practically a dietary staple. It gives salsa a spicy crunch, it brings depth to Mexican sauces, and provides an extra kick to Sonoran hot dogs.

Plenty of other world cuisines rely on it too, from China to India to Thailand. But Latin America, researchers have confirmed, is where it started.

In a study of global significance, researchers have figured out where the first domesticated chili pepper crop was farmed. University of Arizona ethnobiologist and agroecologist ...

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