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Peter May

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Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Peter May » Sat Feb 09, 2013 2:35 pm

Another restaurant dinner served, just picked up knife and fork and shared 'umm, this looks good' with companion when out of corner of my eye I see the waiter is returning to our table waving a peppermill.

He aims the thing at my plate and asks if I want pepper...

Sometimes I take pity when they've walked the length of the restaurant with the thing and say yes, but I don't want it and wouldn't ask for it if they forgot. It's not something I think about, I am indifferent.

If there's a mill on the table I never use it.

I have a peppermill at home which I grind into recipes I'm cooking when I remember but if I don't I don't miss its absence.

Ground pepper does nothing for me.

There. I've said it.
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Karen/NoCA

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Karen/NoCA » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:32 pm

I love freshly ground black pepper, but these days, I prefer white Sarawak, freshly ground. You cannot see the bits of dark in foods, it is pleasantly mild and tastes great. I also grind pink peppercorns for some dishes. This is not to say, I don't use ground black pepper at all, I do, especially in salads, beef dishes, and pastas. Usually, in our restaurants, they come around with the pepper grinder for Caesar Salad. Generally there is never salt and pepper at the table, except for breakfast dishes. They used to offer ground pepper for baked potatoes, but those are far and few between, with garlic mashed potatoes being
de rigueur. :roll:
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Christina Georgina

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Christina Georgina » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:43 pm

Peter, I swoon over the smell of a great black pepper. Parameswaran peppercorns on the stalk are heavenly. Large Tellecherry corns are also great. Freshness does make a difference as well. For these, a little grind'll do ya for taste.
I do agree that for most other peppercorns, they only add a bit of fiber !
Mamma Mia !
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Christina Georgina

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Christina Georgina » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:47 pm

As for white peppercorns, they must be carefully prepared or else they smell and taste of mold. Even a little grind of the moldy ones ruin a dish for me
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Hoke

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Hoke » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:51 pm

Love peppercorns. Probably use it too much. Certain foods don"t taste correct without pepper.
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Carl Eppig

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Carl Eppig » Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:16 pm

We love freshly ground pepper and put it on and in everything. My father always said "if it's white or light, pepper it."
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Mike Bowlin

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Mike Bowlin » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:02 pm

Back in time I learned a trick from chef and author Madeleine Kamman and that is to use 'french pepper' in place of black pepper.
French pepper is freshly ground Jamaican Allspice (30%) and Indian Malabar black peppercorns (70%). I have an old iron Welch coffee grinder that grinds the
two together(medium grind not fine) into a small capped pepper cell that I keep next to the stove top. The additional flavor just makes pepper more interesting and I use it in every recipe that calls for black pepper. I grind small batches (3 tablespoons) so that it is always fresh.
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Hoke

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Hoke » Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:27 pm

Mike Bowlin wrote:Back in time I learned a trick from chef and author Madeleine Kamman and that is to use 'french pepper' in place of black pepper.
French pepper is freshly ground Jamaican Allspice (30%) and Indian Malabar black peppercorns (70%). I have an old iron Welch coffee grinder that grinds the
two together(medium grind not fine) into a small capped pepper cell that I keep next to the stove top. The additional flavor just makes pepper more interesting and I use it in every recipe that calls for black pepper. I grind small batches (3 tablespoons) so that it is always fresh.


My variation on that was to use a mix of "five peppercorn blend" and then throw in a pinch of allspice, mix up and throw in the grinder. (The way I use pepper I never had to worry about the corns/mix being fresh.) Best pepper ever. Careful though, a little allspice can dominate a blend quickly.
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Karen/NoCA

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Karen/NoCA » Sat Feb 09, 2013 9:17 pm

I use Mignonette pepper from Penzeys...a mix of black and coriander that I love...forgot about it until blending of pepper with other spices was mentioned. In fact, I just got a new batch of it three days ago.
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Paul Winalski

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Paul Winalski » Sat Feb 09, 2013 9:42 pm

I do a lot of Indian cooking, and freshly ground black pepper is an integral part of many masalas.

I do a lot of Thai cooking, and peppercorns in all their forms (black, white, fresh or brined green) play a big part in the cuisine.

But I find the Western European restaurant ritual of the pretentious waiter with the peppermill really grates on me (yes--pun intended). Maybe it's just that, in the Thai, Chinese, and Indian cuisines I tend to cook for myself these days, the chef has done all the necessary spicing.

Is it too much to expect a European chef at a restaurant to have done the same--to have spiced the dish to what she or he sees as perfection? In which case--why is a waiter offering--nay INSISTING--on grinding pepper on a dish that I would HOPE is already seasoned perfectly?

I just don't get this ritual. It smacks of pretentiousness, and I don't like that.

-Paul W.
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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Carrie L. » Sat Feb 09, 2013 9:55 pm

I like freshly ground black pepper on my salads and actually appreciate when they come around with the big grinder. My pet peeve though is when the grinders grind too finely so it's more like pepper "dust." It needs to be coarsely ground, or not at all.
White pepper tastes and smells disgusting to me.
Hello. My name is Carrie, and I...I....still like oaked Chardonnay. (I feel so much better now.)
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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Mike Filigenzi » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:45 pm

I'm in the pro-pepper camp as well. I like it in just about anything short of a dessert. As Hoke says, there are some dishes that are not complete without a good grinding of fresh pepper in them.
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Doug Surplus

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Doug Surplus » Sun Feb 10, 2013 2:39 am

I like freshly ground pepper on a lot of different foods. I go through quite a bit of Penzey's Extra Bold.
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Fred Sipe

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Fred Sipe » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:22 am

Must. Have. Pepper. Fresh ground Tellicherry. It really irks me to have great food in front of me and nothing but stale, tasteless old pepper in a regular shaker on the table. Bleh...
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Bill Hooper

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Bill Hooper » Sun Feb 10, 2013 1:12 pm

I love black pepper and I love white pepper. My wife hates white pepper, but I find it to be necessary to a few dishes including many of those including fresh and saltwater fish, and mashed potatoes.

Personally, I hate when the pepper-mill is brought around with such pagentry at a restaurant. I'm not the fucking King of Spain -leave me to spice my own food as I see fit. Otherwise I'm left saying 'Little more...little more...little more...WAIT! TOO MUCH!' Ridiculous.

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Susan B

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Susan B » Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:51 pm

I'm with you Peter. In fact, too much and too fragrant a black pepper can ruin a dish for me. Of course, in a blend of spices it helps hold the structure, but alone and strong as in freshly ground from the mill onto my plate and into my olfactory system, I'd rather pass.
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David Creighton

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by David Creighton » Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:33 am

black for sure - esp sarawak and fairly course. if someone asked me the main difference between american and european food habits it would be our preference here for fresh black pepper. have you ever been offered it in france? ever not been in a similar restaurant here?
david creighton
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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Jenise » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:18 pm

Growing up, pepper was the can of Schilling in the spice cupboard nobody ever used. A grinder was on the premesis that only my father used, and god knows what kind of pepper was in it but it would have come from the grocery store, so nothing fancy. Didn't care for or use pepper myself much until I discovered super-fresh tellicherry. It was instant love. I now buy half a pound every six months from Penzey's and make a few dishes in whch black pepper takes a starring role. Don't buy Extra Bold though because my piece-of-crap Pougeot grinder won't grind it. Definitely more a seasoning for me than a condiment. Hate the pepper grinding ritual in restaurants, it's never good pepper and the 'dust' David mentions really irks me.

Peter, I presume you've tried different peppercorns and nothing's made any difference?
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Jeff Grossman/NYC

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Jeff Grossman/NYC » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:04 pm

Stop whining, you buncha sissies. If you don't want pepper, wave the guy away. He's got plenty else to do... and so do you!

I like freshly-ground black pepper on many foods. As with most things, the result is better if I do it myself but so it goes. I can deal with chunks better than I can deal with dust. The other colors are good, too, though not so broadly useful.

I've never tried 'French pepper'. I do have a second grinder with Grains of Paradise in it, though.
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Peter May

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Peter May » Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:59 am

Jenise wrote:
Peter, I presume you've tried different peppercorns and nothing's made any difference?


No, as I said I'm not bothered. I'm not dissatisfied with pepper and want something better, I'm indifferent to it.

I can't see why when you go to restauarant and the chef prepares a meal for you, why it's left to the diner to sprinkle spices on the food to make it taste better...
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Food |Confession: Pepper, so what?

by Bill Spohn » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:19 pm

Freshly grated black pepper on fresh pasta served with EVOO - divine! Ground onto halved strawberries - excellent!

On restaurant use, however, I did on one occasion tell the waitert that I had assumed that the chef had sent the food out perfectly seasoned, so he should take it back and ask the chef if he thought it needed pepper or anything else, and to bring it back out once approved. Silly custom. If I want black pepper, I'll ask for it.

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