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More nostalgia

Capture from "Lima," a 1944 documentary on the City of Kings.

The tireless Alejandro at Peru Food turned up some interesting and ancient documentary footage on YouTube. It's a documentary from the 1940s about Lima that was put together by a U.S. agency, the Office of the Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs (quite possibly the only agency in our government that used its funds to document, rather than overthrow Latin America).

I'm quite intrigued watching this film because it shows the Lima my mother describes when she reminisces about her youth.

It's funny, this nostalgia we have for earlier times. Because while my mother lived in the Lima shown in this film, she grew up reading Ricardo Palma and thus has a certain nostalgia for the Peru of the mid to late 1800s. It's always the thing you can't have, isn't it?

There's quite a bit to comment on in this film. But the part I found a bit strange was the long segment on the siesta. I've always felt that North Americans have made too much of this tradition, and that is too often portrayed as some kind of naptime and not simply an extended family meal break. (Even Wikipedia in its definition of siesta seems to focus on the sleep aspect and not it's larger cultural context.) I'm sure this territory has been trampled by countless Area Studies graduate students, but it seems to me that siesta is code for "lazy."

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


Newsflash: Hot peppers predate meatloaf

Ajies andinos (Andean peppers) Photo by Don Ball.

By Jeffrey Jones Thu Feb 15, 3:00 PM ET

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Here's a hot, new discovery: archaeologists have traced what they believe is evidence of the first home-grown chili peppers, used in South America 6,100 years ago.

And it was people in tropical, lowland areas of what is now western Ecuador who first spiced up their cuisine, not those from higher, drier Mexico and Peru as was previously assumed, said Scott Raymond, a University of Calgary archaeologist.

His team, led by Linda Perry, researcher with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, made the finding by analyzing starch microfossils from grinding stones and charred ceramic cookware recovered from seven sites in the Americas. Their report is published in the journal Science.

"What's very satisfying about this evidence is that it comes from residues on pottery, so the association of these crops with food, with the pots and with the dates is all very tight," he said. "We can, without any kind of reasonable doubt, argue that these plants were there at that time."

The pepper species cultivated in the villages -- the earliest known settlements in the Western Hemisphere -- grew naturally only to the east of the Andes. That means that the people in the villages of the tropical region transported them across the mountains to grow them, Raymond said.

Full story

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