Fruits from the Sands: The Silk Road Origins of the Foods We Eat
By Robert N. Spengler III
2019, University of California Press, 9-780-52030-3-638, $34.95 hb.
Reviewed by Gary Paul Nabhan on January 15, 2020
Robert Spengler offers a rich history of commerce among the Arab-Persian empires and those of Central Asia and the Far East, underscoring their contributions to the last five centuries of global commerce. He unearths archeological data and other early records related to centuries-old voyages, many of which were never circulated or scrutinized in English or Romance languages. A delightful raconteur and astute field archeobotanist, Spengler relates this history in a personalized manner, as if he is conversing with the reader. His command of both botany and linguistics gives readers a front-row seat to historic discoveries about culinary traditions that will dramatically alter the way they think about populations living thousands of miles apart.