About Pepper

by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Print Email

salt-and-pepper-shaker.gif Today I want to discuss Pepper.    

Yes, Pepper.  

I feel the eye roll.  You think you know what there is to know. It's sat on the table, every day, for a lifetime in an arranged marriage to Salt.  A couple.  Separate but not equal.  I mean, really, isn't Mr. Pepper, in our culture, sort of the lesser of the two?  The sides of the shaker by the stove are not as greasy.   Pepper is....

A kick.  A punch.  A jab. 

Salt knows her boundaries.  She comes to you in the right size.  Pepper, the guy, has to be ground down, beat up, knocked into shape.  

But what is he really....?   

What is the nature of the love affair--not just between them--but between us? 

Black pepper is piper nigrum.  It is, in actuality, a fruit.  A peppercorn.  Yes.  You read that correctly.  A fruit.  Makes the whole thing more interesting, doesn't it?  Pepper can be black.  Red or pink.  Even green.  So where do we begin to tell the story of this potent little fruit....?

India.

Southern India.

rainbow-peppercorns.jpgApparently, Sanskrit had it first as a word:  Pippali.  But who got the idea to grind it up and throw it on top of food? Was it to disguise pieces of dirt?  No, we are told it was thought of, early on, as a medicine.

Okay...Medicine.  This is about medicine.   And medicine heals.  Pepper can clear your sinuses.  It can increase your appetite.  It gives food...energy.  

Now the word pepper was used to mean spirited energy, apparently, dating back to the 1840's.  By the turn of the century, that had been shorted to pep.   Pep girls.  Pep rallies.  Pep-to Bismol.  Even Peppy.  They all come from Pepper. 

It is important not to take the small things for granted.  This is a lesson worth sharing.   In today's uncertain times, I give you our most beloved fruit:

 

 

Holly Goldberg Sloan is a writer/director of family films.  She wrote "Angels in the Outfield,", "Made in America", "The Big Green",  "The Crocodile Hunter Movie" and the soon to be finished  "Heidi 4 Paws". Cooking, she believes, is like writing.  It's good to start with a solid plan, and then be willing to go with the flow. 

You have no rights to post comments

 

restaurant news

Plums Cafe & Catering: A Must Stop in Costa Mesa
Southern California
by Kitty Kaufman

plums cafe 1Here's what I like about California: People think nothing of driving 82 miles for lunch. (In New York, this never happens.) The Thin Man and I are now two of those people as we head out from La...

Read more...
Meanies
Los Angeles
by Laraine Newman

chef-gordon-ramsay.jpg One for the Table has never engaged in deliberate snarkiness. I’ve certainly avoided it as I scrupulously adhered to the motto “if you can’t say anything nice…” But, in this economy, I find...

Read more...
Rocco's Tacos
Florida
by Nancy Ellison

roccossign.jpgThere is the neighborhood Mexican Restaurant – good solid simple Mexican food with waiters who are kind to children and ask all women under 50 for their ID when they order beer. (I used to LOVE...

Read more...
The Charcoaler Restaurant
Texas
by Scott R. Kline

charcoaler-drive-in-1.jpgThe Charcoaler in El Paso, Texas, looks like it fell out of time capsule from the 1950s. That is a good thing. A beautiful glass fronted open building sits back from busy Mesa Drive with an...

Read more...