people, author richard schweid is one of the under-appreciated gems of nonfiction. seriously. i picked up this book on the strength of his last book, Consider The Eel. i wasn't interested in eels before i read that book, but schweid um, schwayed me. same with hot peppers - i like them, but i'm not obsessed. what could be interesting about hot peppers in louisiana? there's only a bunch of cayenne, right? WRONG. another wild success from richard schweid, who writes with a journalist's attention to significant detail, and a frank-yet-fluid narrative style all his own. pick up Hot Peppers: Cajuns and Capsicum in New Iberia, Louisiana, because it's fascinating, it's funny, and it's often a little startling. much like Eel. much like pictures of schweid himself.
an excerpt from Hot Peppers:
"In Swahili, red peppers are called pilipili hoho. The word pilipili is also slang for penis. Remarkably, the same word means the same thing in the slang of Cajun French. There is, in fact, a variety of Capsicum annuum, occasionally grown in Texas, that so closely resembles the male reproductive organ as to be universally monickered "the penis pepper." Almost every botanist I spoke to who specialized in Capsicum, would go for a laugh during the interview by saying - get a load of this - and reaching into the far back corner of a desk drawer to pull out of one these peppers."
richard schweid, you are awesome. you even sound a little exasperated with everyone else's attempts to be funny! and you have beautiful, measured syntax. marry me.