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Food For Thought: Black Peppercornucopia

Nancy leson
Some of Nancy's black pepper stuff

Since last week's Food for Thought was all about salt it seemed only right this week to ask Nancy Leson “Where is the love for plain old black pepper?”  With all the exotic heat available today, black pepper doesn’t get the respect it should.  As Nancy points out, “Black pepper is the world’s most traded spice. Who among us doesn’t have black pepper in the house?”

True dat.  And we’re fortunate that it's so affordable today because once the stuff was rare and expensive enough to be called “black gold.”

 Black Pepper Fun Facts

Black peppercorns were found in the nostrils of Ramses II's mummy. He’s been dead since 1213 BCE and his nose still looks fabulous, darling. Black pepper makes a terrific topping for vanilla ice cream or strawberries – really!

I, too, was taking the stuff for granted until I came across this recipe for the classic Cantonese dish stir fried beef with black pepper.   The tablespoon of coarsely cracked BP it calls for seemed excessive to me, but I went ahead and used it all, anyway.  Perfection.

Nancy loves Michael Natkin’s ginger and black pepper pilaf.  I can’t wait to try that one myself.

Should you always use freshly ground black pepper?  Yes.  Should you be wary of restaurants employing a grinder longer than three feet? Yes again.

“He who has the pepper may season as he lists.” George Herbert 1593-1622

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.