Pepper is one of those seasonings everybody always has on hand. It's a basic – a staple, if you will, although when I label the pantry shelf where I keep things like flour, sugar, and Life cereal “STAPLES,” The CEO is wont to snicker and ask where I keep the rubber bands and copy paper.
Ha ha. Very funny.
I always have pepper in the house, with a backup supply in the pantry. The reason is my youngest child: Taz, aka The Picky One. Although each one of my children has grown up with the very same parents, the very same parenting style, and the very same on-site sous chef (that would be me, in case you're wondering), I have one child who will eat practically anything*, one child who is deeply suspicious of new things but can be convinced to try many of them**, and one child who resists any food that isn't his favorite with the will and cunning and ferocity of the Mossad, less the garroting skill. Which, incidentally, he may decide to pick up on his own, so I'm limiting his TV time to be on the safe side.
At one point, I realized Taz, then a preschooler, was subsisting on a menu that included only the following: Cheerios. American cheese. Goldfish crackers. Chicken breast nuggets. Milk. Red food (Jell-O, ketchup, and red apples, which must nevertheless be peeled and thinly sliced before he ate them).
At later stages, he added foods like plain meats and tilapia baked with parmesan cheese, broccoli, green beans, peas, fries, mandarin oranges, Mini-Wheats, gummy fruit snacks, and quesadillas. Of course, nearly all these foods – bar the fruit and cereal – absolutely must be covered with ketchup.
Or freshly ground black pepper. He'll settle for the pre-ground cheapie kind if he must, but he really likes the kind that has to be mauled before it can be eaten. (Am I reading too much into that, or is his testosterone level just that high?) Taz adores a buttered roll liberally sprinkled with black pepper – sprinkled, I mean, to the degree that the surface looks a little bit like our gravel road.
I myself love pepper -- pepper on salad, on beef, on salmon... One of the single most delicious things I have ever eaten, ever, was fresh ripe strawberries tossed with a little sugar and a profligate dusting of cracked black pepper. Sounds weird, I know, but it's synergy; the three of them together are amazing. Pepper smells hot and alive, almost like it might be vibrating inside your nasal cavities. Another favorite pepper recipe involves rubbing a mixture of salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and cumin onto a pork tenderloin before roasting. Easy-delicious. Even Taz eats it!
I love pepper in my perfume, too. (Pink pepper is another item entirely, and that's a subject for a future post.) Two of my favorite scents involve pepper and rose, and I've mentioned them before: Ormonde Jayne Ta'if and Caron Parfum Sacré. Another gorgeous rose scent, Maison Francis Kurkdjian's Lumiere Noire pour femme, has pepper listed in its notes. Other peppery scents I like include Annick Goutal's odd little scent Mandragore, perfume blog fave and sadly-discontinued Fendi Theorema, Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, and DSH Perfumes' absolutely-gorgeous, wish-I-could-afford-it Oeillets Rouges. Then there's Frederick Malle Noir Épices, which I haven't smelled yet but am hoping to find a sample of in my mailbox sometime in the next month or two. And the ridiculously-expensive Caron Poivre, which I think I'd looooove but haven't come across yet.
I'm thinking of doing a side-by-side-by-side comparison with the three peppery rose scents soon: Ta'if, Parfum Sacré, and Lumiere Noire. To be honest, it was only when I went searching through my Excel file looking for any pepper fragrances I might have missed that I realized Lumiere Noire has pepper. That one's all about rose and narcissus doing their naughty tango, or so I remember, and perhaps I'd better wear it again on its own instead. I don't think it takes prisoners; it would probably eat Ta'if and PS for breakfast, and I'd be swoony and weak-kneed but no closer to a good compare-and-contrast description.
Coming soon to a blog near you: full-length reviews of the three peppery rose scents.
Top image is Yellow Pepper Mill by deardaisycottage; bottom one is Peppercorns by bazzinator, both at flickr.
*Bookworm will eat just about anything that's on your standard American menu, particularly vegetables, but doesn't like beets or brussels sprouts (both of which I really enjoy).
** Gaze tends to turn down sauces, and things cooked in them, unless the sauce is tomato-based, or Rachel Ray's lovely Orange-Thyme sauce for pork or chicken. He also does not care for beets or brussels sprouts, and, inexplicably, dislikes mashed potatoes and cheese – I'm thinking of having his DNA tested to make sure he's my kid.