Kurt Michael Friese, author of “Chasing Chiles,” with his daughter and son at his restaurant, Devotay.

I went down to Prairie Lights Bookstore tonight to hear local-food chef and restaurant owner Kurt Michael Friese read from his book about chile peppers and climate change. For a year Friese and co-authors Kraig Kraft and Gary Paul Nabhan visited chile pepper farmers from Sonora to Connecticut. The farmers report long-term changes in growing conditions that hurt the crops. The book, Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail, describes what they found.

Afterwards I asked Friese where his Iowa City restaurant was. Answer: a few blocks away. I went over there (after walking in the wrong direction for 10 minutes) and found Friese sitting at a table with friends, family, and some people who are starting an indoor farmers’ market in nearby Cedar Rapids. They invited me to sit down and before long we were eating paella, asparagus, lamb meatballs, olives, and more. This Iowa City is a wacky and fun place.

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