A Desert Feast: Celebrating Tucson's Culinary Heritage


Drawing on thousands of years of foodways, Tucson cuisine blends the influences of Indigenous, Mexican, mission-era Mediterranean, and ranch-style cowboy food traditions. This book offers a food pilgrimage, where stories and recipes demonstrate why the desert city of Tucson became America's first UNESCO City of Gastronomy.

Both family supper tables and the city's trendiest restaurants feature native desert plants and innovative dishes incorporating ancient agricultural staples. Award-winning writer Carolyn Niethammer deliciously shows how the Sonoran Desert's first farmers grew tasty crops that continue to influence Tucson menus and how the arrival of Roman Catholic missionaries, Spanish soldiers, and Chinese farmers influenced what Tucsonans ate.

White Sonora wheat, tepary beans, and criollo cattle steaks make Tucson's cuisine unique. In A Desert Feast, you'll see pictures of kids learning to grow food at school, and you'll meet the farmers, small-scale food entrepreneurs, and chefs who are dedicated to growing and using heritage foods. It's fair to say, "Tucson tastes like nowhere else."

Southwest Book of the Year Award Winner
Pubwest Book Design Award Winner

  • ISBN-13: 978-0-816538-89-8
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Format: Paperback
  • Trim: 7 1/2" x 9 1/4"
  • Page count: 232 pages
  • Published by University of Arizona Press in 2020
  • Written by Carolyn Niethammer
  • Audience: Adult
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