August 20, 2013
I feel a certain responsability for their being in this country. When I took over Gourmet in 1999, I asked Calvin Trillin if there was any place in the world he wanted to go. "Padron," he immediately replied, "for the peppers. They're not grown here."
The peppers have a uniquely robust flavor, filling your mouth with a taste I can only describe as "green." They also hide a surprise; most are merely delicious, but every fifth pepper or so you get one that's hot enough to send shivers down your spine.
Trillin's account of his pepper pilgrimage appeared in the November 1999 issue of Gourmet. It was such a passionate ode that a farmer in New Jersey began growing them. Now he sends a huge pile to Mr. Trillin, who hosts his own little pepper festival each fall. Robert Sietsema does the honors, frying them in a big pot of boiling oil while we stand around the stove, waiting for him to pull the peppers out. He sprinkles them with salt and we all make a grab for them. It's wonderful, messy fun.
I decided to try something a little different. Rather than deep-fry them, I simply slicked a cast iron skillet with olive oil and sauted the pimientos until their skins crinkled up. Then I showered wthem with salt, picked one up by its stem and stuck it in my mouth.
It was a hot one. It was delicious. More please.
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