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  • Writer's pictureMax Sinsheimer

SOLD! Eating the Amazon (by Nicholas Gill)

We are in the eleventh hour to transition the Amazon to a standing forest economy. Most books on the Amazon are black and white: either we leave it alone completely, or it’s already too late to save it. James Beard- and Andre Simon-nominated writer and photographer Nicholas Gill believes in a more hopeful path: we can utilize the Amazon’s astounding biodiversity and indigenous wisdom to persevere this irreplaceable landscape. Gill's forthcoming Eating the Amazon, which just sold to Rachel Vega DeCesario at New Press, follows his two-decade journey through the rainforests of Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, French Guiana, and Bolivia, seeking out fermented fruit pulps and long-lost varieties of cacao, and introducing us to the communities who have been responsibly stewarding this edible heritage for generations.

An area roughly the combined size of Germany, France, and Greece has been cleared of forest since 1980, and food remains one of the root causes of the Amazon's destruction. Our voracious modern appetite that demands beef, soybeans, and palm oil has left vast tracts of diverse ecosystems reduced to uniform monocultures. Indigenous communities whose ancestors transformed landscapes, sheltering more plant and animal species than anywhere else on earth, are fighting for survival as they face down disease, malnutrition, loss of traditional culture, and loss of land. How can we utilize the Amazon’s biodiversity—cared for by more than 400 distinct indigenous cultures—while not treating it like the miners, oil companies, wildcat loggers, poachers, and drug traffickers who plunder its resources?

A Lamista Quechua woman prepares for a celebration in Lamas, Peru. Photograph by Nicholas Gill.

Going where statistics alone fail to bring readers, Eating the Amazon's sixteen chapters each center on a different food. Gill traces the history of culinary and conservation movements in the Amazon, following a rising tide of clashes between modern resource extraction and indigenous foodways. Along the way he encounters riverine foragers, indigenous farmers, hunters, chefs, and scientists who are, against all odds, working to protect this culinary heritage. Readers will witness humble tubers like cassava transformed into the foundation for a sauce that could change indigenous economies, and watch a surprising alliance blossom between caiman hunters and conservationists, with lessons for how to save a species.

Nicholas Gill is the co-author of Central (2016) and The Latin American Cookbook (2021) with Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez, as well as Slippurinn (2021) with the Icelandic chef Gísli Matthías Auðunsson. He has been featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table and has an award-winning culinary newsletter and podcast called New Worlder. Gill is a regular contributor to the NYT, Saveur, New York Magazine, the WSJ, The Guardian, and Fool.

Congratulations to Nick and Rachel!


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