Episode 19

A Man Named Peppercorn: Saving & Savoring Foodways in the Sonoran Desert 

Photo Courtesy of Mike Portt

Photo Courtesy of Mike Portt

 
 

This week, we're headed to the land of bean trees & cholla buds: the Sonoran Desert. Home to UNESCO's new capital of gastronomy, Tucson, we'll trace the desert's diverse culinary history, from the cornfields of the Hohokam to the mission gardens of the German Jesuits. Why did 18th century missionaries bring fruit trees to Sonora? Could heritage wheat be the solution to sustainable farming in southern Arizona? We'll look at several projects revitalizing the ancient foodways of the desert, including exclusive interviews with Jesús Garcia, co-founder of the Kino Heritage Fruit Trees Project, and Sonya Norman, public programs coordinator at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. 

Written & Produced by Laura Carlson

Technical Direction by Mike Portt

Quotations from Father Pfeffercorn's Sonora: A Description of the Province (Southwest Center Series) (Trans. Theodore Treutlein)

 

Projects & Organizations on Sonoran Foodways

The Mission Garden Project (Tucson, Arizona)

More Information on the Kino Heritage Fruit Trees Project:

Dena Cowan, "Tasting History" (Video)

Michelle Tortorello, "Seeds of an Era Long Gone" The New York Times (November 12, 2012)

Heritage Orchard at Tumacacori Mission, Arizona

Native American Culinary Association

Native Foodways Magazine

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Tucson, Arizona)

Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture (Ajo, Arizona)

Edible Baja ArizonaA magazine dedicated to compelling stories about food, drink, culture, and agriculture in Tucson & the borderlands

Native Seeds/SEARCH Arizona

A fantastic resource for how to buy native seeds locally & online, as well as a great collection of recipes on how to cook with desert foods, like cholla buds and mesquite. 

Cholla Bud Recipes

Mesquite Recipes

Tepary Bean Recipes

Nopales/Prickly Pear Recipes

Tucson: The City of Gastronomy

There are some great places to eat in Tucson & throughout southern Arizona. Here are some local spots that are helping Tucson live up to its title as an international Capital of Gastronomy (awarded by UNESCO in 2016). 

Barrio Bread: Located in Tucson, this baker is famous for its use of Sonoran white wheat in its heritage loaves, each one signed with a saguaro stencil

Hamilton Distillers: Don't miss their famous mesquite smoked aged whiskey, winner of the double gold in the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Hayden Flour Mills: Located north of Tucson in Queen Creek, they are one of the oldest mills still in operation in Arizona, check them out for your own supply of white Sonoran wheat, heritage wheat berries, or farmer's oats. 

The Mission Garden at Tumacácori Heritage Park (Arizona)

The Mission at Tumacacori was one of several scattered throughout what is today southern Arizona. The buildings that survive today are largely from the latter part of the 18th century, but show a sense of the architecture and also garden layout that would have been popular during the time of Father Kino & Father Pfeffercorn.

The exterior of the mission church at Tumacácori; Photo by Mike Portt

The exterior of the mission church at Tumacácori; Photo by Mike Portt

The Mission Garden 

The Mission Garden 

Tumacácori was one of the first sites to revitalize a mission orchard with fruit trees from the Kino Heritage Fruit Trees Project. 

Tumacácori was one of the first sites to revitalize a mission orchard with fruit trees from the Kino Heritage Fruit Trees Project. 

Want to know more about Sonoran Foods?

Here are a few books to get you going: 

Gary Paul Nabhan, Gathering the Desert

Ignaz Pfeffercorn, Sonora: A Description of the Province (Southwest Center Series) (Trans. Theodore E. Treutlein)

Episode Soundtrack

Jahzzar, "Bodies" (Bodies by Jahzzar is licensed under a Attribution-ShareAlike License.)