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Encounters Old and New in World HistoryEssays Inspired by Jerry H. Bentley$
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Alan Karras and Laura J. Mitchell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824865917

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824865917.001.0001

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Eating the World

Eating the World

The Iguana’s Tale of Caribbean Ecology and Culinary History

(p.91) Seven Eating the World
Encounters Old and New in World History

Candice Goucher

University of Hawai'i Press

This essay follows the iguana, an indigenous genus of herbivorous lizards, to the Caribbean dinner table, from the fifteenth century to the present. Inspired by historian Jerry Bentley’s scholarly contributions to questions of cultural encounters, the essay argues for the importance of indigenous foods in complex, often ambiguous, and consistently nuanced processes of cultural interactions between indigenous peoples and transplanted Europeans, Asians, and Africans. The story of how and why the iguana consistently appeared in the region’s foodways provides a critical perspective on the history of globalization in the Atlantic world. Mapping the variety of these culinary experiences can also reveal insights into the Caribbean’s changing ecology and the role of indigenous beliefs and African interpretations in the eco-cultural encounters that reshaped the flavors and choices of the region.

Keywords:   Jerry Bentley, Caribbean, iguana, ecology, culinary history, food studies, world history

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