Traveling Chili

The extraordinary journey that foods made around the world

Ever think about where the food on your table really comes from? Maybe not, but it is sometimes a very interesting story. The fact is that a lot of plants don't originate in the places that are most associated with them. I discovered this when researching a book about Thai food a few years ago (sadly, it was never published). I found out that, although the chili pepper is widely associated with Thai cuisine, the chili plant is not native to Thailand, or even Asia. That discovery, along with the ones that followed, form the basis of this web site.

“Traveling Chili” is the story of the journeys plants have taken around the world, to end up at our supermarkets and on our tables. The facts are sometimes stranger than fiction, and there are even one or two radical make-overs along the way. This site also shares some of the local knowledge I've gained about how some foods are used, and I might even share a recipe or two.

Recent Posts

Chocolate 'Brownie' Pie

Chocolate 'Brownie' Pie

Thanksgiving dessert may mean pumpkin pie to most people, and while that eponymical dish certainly wasn't unknown around our house, what always sticks in my mind about the biggest meal of the year was this somewhat odd combination of pie and cake. It has made an appearance at every Thanksgiving I can remember. I have no idea where my mother got the recipe, but I think the attraction for her was that it was simple to make (to be honest, she wasn't the greatest of cooks) and could be made a day or two ahead of time.

Mint Patties

Mint Patties

Mint patties turns out to be a surprisingly tricky recipe to master. The candy is deceptively simple, but I've had many a failure because the mint centers don't set enough when frozen and the whole thing flattens out when exposed to the hot chocolate coating. That's one advantage to using a silicon mold like I used for the patties pictured. It's much easier to spoon a bit of chocolate into the bottom of the mold, press the frozen center into it and then cover the top with more chocolate.

Coconut Bon-Bons

Coconut Bon-Bons

This is the about only “Christmas” candy recipe from my childhood that I still make. I have no idea where my mom got the recipe, and I've been making it from memory. About the only change I've made is to use melted coconut oil in place of butter, and also to reduce the sugar a bit as well as add more coconut. I use unsweetened coconut, but you could use the sweetened kind.

Peanut Butter Cups

Peanut Butter Cups

This is the most recently added treat to my holiday repetoire. The original recipe called for powdered milk and lots of added sugar, and I was never quite happy with it. Once I discovered peanut butter powder, which is now available in most groceries (or you can order it from Amazon), the way became clear. You need the dry ingredients so you end up with a dough you can form into balls or squares that will hold their shape.

Lemon-Tequila & Cocoa-Nocino Balls

Lemon-Tequila & Cocoa-Nocino Balls

It's coming to that time of year when I start making my holiday treats. I generally begin well before Thanksgiving because some of the things I make, like these little adult confections, require some time to age before they're best to eat. This recipe started out as a basic rum ball, but over the years I've experimented with different cookies, crackers and alcohols. These two recipes represent the ones I think are the best.