Book Review: Real Women Eat Chiles by Jane Butel

As founder of the Pecos Valley Spice Company, Butel aka “The Queen of Chiles” knows plenty about chilies and some of the women who revel in them. The first four chapters detail the assorted health benefits of regular chili consumption including aiding overall digestion, protecting against ulcers and increasing metabolism. There is mounting evidence that daily chili consumption may even help with weight control. Additionally Butel highlights an impressive array of outstanding women like Susan Welsand, who make chilies a part of their daily diet. Welsand has gone from simply growing chilies for her own use to cultivating about 1,100 different chilies and has become dedicated to keeping heirloom varieties available.

Artistic photography and over 120 user-friendly recipes complete with short introductions, preparation time and nutritional information make chilies an indispensable addition to the busy kitchen. Many of the appetizers, sauces and salsas can be prepared in a matter of minutes and most of the main dishes don’t take much longer. The Speedy Shrimp Primavera can be prepared in the time it takes to cook the pasta and as hot as your taste buds can tolerate. The easy Jalapeno Lime Cream Dressing adds no-fat zest to an assortment of dishes and has the extra benefit of keeping for more then two weeks. Confirmed chocoholics won’t feel left out when they top off a meal with a serving of Spicy Hot Chocolate Mousse that gets its snap from red-hot schnapps with a sprinkling of chili on top. Who needs whipped cream?

A source list and a chili hotness scale so cooks could compare the heat index of different chili varieties, making substitutions easier would have been helpful although that information is available on the internet. The balanced range of recipes, lovely photography plus interesting chili history makes this a valuable and entertaining asset in the kitchen. Real women do eat chiles and thanks to Butel now you can too.

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