For the avid readers of this blog, or as avid as a bimonthly (and sadly, I’m using the every-other-month meaning of the word as opposed to the twice-a-month meaning…what a worthless word) post would allow, you may recall my relatively recent critique of the spice commonly known as pepper. At the time I wrote said post, I was struck by it’s presumptuous placement alongside the far more vital mineral we call salt. It seemed too many of us held the two in similar esteem. We ask for them as a unit. We shake one and then the other, often in random order. We think that somehow they both act equally in making our food taste better. This seemed blasphemous at the time. Now, don’t get me wrong, it still seems misguided, and I maintain that a distinction is still quite worth making between the importance of the two shakers, but I feel it my duty to admit that over the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about you pepper, and I really like you, too.
Salt’s role is mainly a flavor enhancer, drawing out the subtle and not-so subtle characters of that which we salt. But pepper adds a complexity to our food that I, at the time of writing the last blog, undervalued. It’s spicy; it’s nutty (and no, I definitely do not mean in the goofy sense); it’s earthy; it’s herbal; and, unless ground too coarsely or applied too heavily, it doesn’t overpower. Oh, and it’s cheap. For those of use who can’t throw down for, say, the golden strands of saffron, pepper is there for a buck and a quarter to kick some refinement into your salad or fried egg.
So pepper, I hereby apologize. You don’t need to return to the spice rack like I previously suggested. You hereby may remain on my table beside the salt.