Thursday, February 26, 2015

Peter Piper

It's that time of year when forward thinking gardeners (Isn't that all of us? Doesn't it take a leap of faith in the future to plant a garden at all?) start their seeds. In the past, my focus has been on tomatoes, and this season there will be plenty of those, but I have learned that the peppers must come first.

Growing up, I was never a big fan of peppers. Back then, we really only had one kind-- green bell. My sister loved them in salad, but I picked around them. My dad sauteed them every Saturday night with mushrooms and onions to go with our steak and french fries, but to me? They ruined the other vegetables. They were also in our chili and spaghetti sauce, and the first thing I did when I learned to cook was to hold the peppers.

When I was in my 20s, I was introduced to Thai food, and boy was that a pepper of a different color! Hot peppers barely seemed related to those others. The more I cooked and traveled, the more various the peppers became, and my appreciation grew. Pepperoncini, banana, ancho, habanero, roasted red, New Mexico, smoked Spanish paprika-- they all have their place in my kitchen and on my menus. I have even found a use for green bell peppers; it's impossible to make a good Cajun etouffee without 'em.

So this year I'm planting lots of peppers. The mail-order seeds arrived just the other day, and despite the snow on the ground, today I am dreaming of late July and August when the Guajillo, Hatch, Paprika, Aji Dulce, Peachy Mama, Cornejo del Toro, and Gochagaru will be ready to pick.

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