Fresh Pepper

I  missed the memo about fresh pepper.

I grew up on a steady diet of tuna casserole and meatloaf and loved it.  But, as I’ve gotten older and moved around the country, it’s occurred to me that I’ve missed a lot of memos when it comes to food.  And the memo about fresh pepper was one of them.

When The Food Porn Channel The Food Network was added to our cable line up, I was instantly riveted.  I noted that so many of the TV chefs made a point to use freshly ground pepper.  I wasn’t in the habit of adding pepper to my food at the table so I wondered what all the fuss could be about.  I mean, who cares if the pepper came from a shaker or grinder?

Turns out, I care.  The extra bit of effort it takes to acquire and use freshly ground pepper makes a huge difference in the flavor.  I could finally understand how fresh pepper could inspire this kind of  passion.

Fresh pepper makes just about everything tastier.   Once discovering the yumminess of fresh pepper, I felt like the protagonist at the end of “Green Eggs and Ham” (does he have a name??) 

 I will grind it on my rice, I like it, like it, yes, it’s nice!  I will grind it on my eggs, and on corn, and chicken legs!  I do so like this fresh ground pepper!

 And I’ve extracted a few lessons from my fresh pepper conversion. First, stretching beyond my humble culinary beginnings has been good for me.  While I still love the simple comfort foods of my childhood, I’m not afraid to branch out a bit.  Second, fresh is almost invariable better than not so fresh.  Third, it’s not that much more effort to seek out a pepper grinder; they’re now in just about every grocery store.   Fourth, when somebody as knowledgable and as adorable as Tyler Florence tells you to use fresh pepper, for heaven’s sake, listen to him.  Memo received.

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