Hot Peppers

The Story of Cajuns and Capsicum

Revised Edition

By Richard Schweid

182 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4826-5
    Published: November 1999
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-8966-4
    Published: November 2009
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7236-4
    Published: November 2009

Chapel Hill Books

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Smitten by a love of hot peppers, journalist Richard Schweid traveled to the capital of the U.S. hot sauce industry, New Iberia, Louisiana. This is Cajun country, and capsicum (as hot peppers are known botanically) thrive in the region's salty, oil-rich soil like nowhere else. At once an entertaining exploration of the history and folklore that surround hot peppers and a fascinating look at the industry built around the fiery crop, Schweid's book also offers a sympathetic portrait of a culture and a people in the midst of economic and social change.

This edition of Hot Peppers has been thoroughly updated and includes some twenty-five recipes for such deliciously spicy dishes as crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, and okra shrimp gumbo.

About the Author

Richard Schweid is a journalist and author who lives in Barcelona, Spain. His other books include Catfish and the Delta: Confederate Fish Farming in the Mississippi Delta, Barcelona: Jews, Transvestites, and an Olympic Season, and The Cockroach Papers.
For more information about Richard Schweid, visit the Author Page.


"Schweid is a fine writer, blessed with keen powers of observation . . . but his true forte is in telling the stories of New Iberia’s working-class Cajuns. . . . with compassion and grace. . . . A publishing event to celebrate."--The Southern Register

"My mama, a fine Louisiana Frenchwoman, taught me to cook. She used to say, 'When the Lord made Louisiana, he must have been laughin'. . . . It's filled with so many wonderful things.' Like the hot peppers that thrive in our rich delta soil, life in Louisiana has a flavor like nowhere else."--Justin Wilson, Cajun cook and humorist

"[An] informal, eminently readable book."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"This is a very special travel book packed with information and even a few good recipes. There is an ease and charm to Schweid's reporting, rather like that of Calvin Trillin of the New Yorker."--Newsday

"Like [John] McPhee, Schweid proves that, for those willing to look, behind the smallest of subjects may lurk a complex, far-reaching story."--Philadelphia Inquirer

"An easy-going, easy-reading history, examination, and celebration of the hot peppers grown in the oily, salty soil around New Iberia, La. This biography of a remarkable spice is salted with plenty of fact and anecdote about the Cajun culture of the pepper belt and recipes to tempt the pepperphile."--Denver Post