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Happy Peppercorn Day!

Discussion in 'Sauces, Rubs & Marinades' started by princess, Oct 11, 2010.

  1. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    Most people already know the importance of salt (the base of the word "salary" is indeed due to wages once being paid in salt) in financial history, but did you know that Peppercorns were the spice that launched the Nina, The Pinta and the Santa Maria?

    Happy Columbus Day!!

    As Americans, today is the day we celebrate Ferdinand and Isabella's desire to find a faster route for the importation of peppercorns from India.  The pungent flavor of Peppercorns was integral to successful cooking, particularly in the days before modern refrigeration as a way to mask poorly flavored foods. Even today, peppercorns are widely used in America, as Americans consume over a quarter-pound each per year. After water and salt, peppercorns are the most commonly added ingredient. Peppercorn usage can be found in nearly every cuisine today, but was once used as currency. Once dried, peppercorns can last almost indefinitely if they remain uncracked. In addition to helping make food tasty, peppercorn can help aid those in respiratory distress as an expectorant and can help repel insects.

    Columbus did not find peppercorns on his trip, but he did find that the natives used dried capsicums in much the same way. Not wanting to return empty-handed, Columbus brought these "dried peppers" back with him to Spain.

    In cooking, it is very important to remember to ALWAYS use whole dried peppercorns and crack them yourself, just before using. The volatile oils in peppercorns (including the one that lends its distinct flavor, called piperine) give off a bitter flavor as they begin to dry. Piperine can even convert to isochavacine, a tasteless chemical compound.

    Now you know!


  2. squirrel

    squirrel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Very nice Ms. Princess! I love history, especially when it is food related! Great job! I buy my peppercorns from a place in Chicago called The Spice House. Love their stuff. But I buy them seperately - white, pink, green, lampong black, sichuan. I like to make my own mix and then grind them by hand using a mortar and pestle. Thanks for sharing such an important part of this country's history! Hugs![​IMG]
  3. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    I only like history when it's food related!! :)  Do you have this one?


    Seriously got me nerding about food even more than I do now... and that is saying something!!

    I have a great natural food store here that allows me to buy my peppercorns in bulk, a few oz at a time. Just opening those tubs is enough to make my eyes water. Mmmm... So good!


  4. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Ok now you two have to get a room......LOL but food history really. Ok to me it sounds weird but I have been refered to as weird too at times in the past. Now it is interesting those little tidbits about the peppercorn an all. But what else is there now you have woke up the sleeping knowledge seeker in me now.  Oh the wife is gonna hate this one. She's on a diet too. 
  5. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    If knowledge was power? I'd be Optimus Prime. ;)

    Seriously... If I had unlimited time and money, I'd produce my own show on this stuff.  I'd call it "You Should Know Something About What You Eat" and I'd make sure to avoid the Alton Brown-esqe CRAZY CAMERA ANGLES and the Giarda soft:core:food:porn shots and just focus on the stuff that makes you go, "Huh?!? No way! That's pretty cool!"  I am just heartbroken that the books I *really* want to read are textbooks and as a result are frighteningly expen$ive.

    ::goes back to her SuperGeek corner::  [​IMG]
  6. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I have a whole collection of their rubs that we got as a gift and man are they ever good
  7. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    And I told my grandkids I never had to go to school again. At least you aren't making me take the test [​IMG]
  8. squirrel

    squirrel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Oh sweet Princess! I wish I had the money to back you on something like that! I knew I liked you from the very begining as it seems we have more in common than I thought! I've been working on a little project than is basically the history of herbs and spices including myths and legends. I enjoy the folklore as much as the facts! [​IMG]

    In medieval times I probably would have been burned at the stake if they saw all they herbs and spices I have!

  9. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    Girl!! My "old school" books are so full of folklore as to make you SCREAM!! Mrs Beeton's is my fave... I nabbed my copy for real cheap at a used bookstore in New Orleans (the man did not even know what he had...) and I giggle everytime I crack the cover. A modern reprinting is here:

    I just wish Augusta was not so damn far awayyyy!! :( :(   I feel like I am just SITTING on my damn hands right now b/c I wanna talk about all the stuff I am doing but I CAN'T because it's all for the THROWDOWN and I have never entered one before and I'm hoping to do at least okay.  ARGH!

    I love being a "Kitchen Witch" don't you? [​IMG]