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Peppercorn Party

September 3, 2009

I didn’t see this coming at all. I stayed home from work today with stomach issues (sorry if that counts as TMI), and haven’t really eaten much all day. As I was getting ready for bed, I was overwhelmed with the desire to eat pepper (as in salt and ___). I went into the cupboard and pulled out my tellicherry peppercorns from the nice folks at Flavorbank. But I also had a peppercorn mixture (also from Flavorbank) in there as well. What to do?

Well, I’m not one to ignore my body – figuring it knows what it needs a whole lot better than my conscious mind. But do I grind the pepper into my hand? Do I mix some with water and drink it? Do I whip up a hot buttered piece of peppertoast?*

After 15 seconds of deliberations, I take a Madagascar pink peppercorn and pop the whole thing in my mouth. I let it roll around for a bit, kind of smacking my lips on it a little before I bite into is and let it sit on my tongue. It’s got a papery skin that comes off pretty easily, with a light crunchy interior. The flavor is mild- not too much like typical ground black pepper. It’s almost floral, with a hint of sweetness before a very soft pepper bite hits the back of the throat. And then I swallow it on down.

I was sold. I pulled out one of each kind of peppercorn and did the same thing with each of them. I was surprised by how different they all were. I mean, they were all similar in that they tasted like pepper, but the differences in their flavors and textures was a lot more than I expected. Here’s a quick rundown of the different peppercorns in the order that I tried them.

Madagascar pink – see above

Muntok white – flavor stronger than the pink, with almost a licorice flavor to it. The pepper flavor was a little more concentrated than I expected.

Brazilian green – another one with a papery outer skin and lighter inside. It was a little brighter than your typical black pepper – not a huge amount of spice but some zip to it nonetheless.

Lampong black – this is probably what I think of when I think of black pepper. Nice spiciness and aroma before I broke it open.

Tellicherry black – highly textured, dense, and tough with a very concentrated pepper flavor and a lot of heat. Almost a smokiness to it. It started to make my tongue numb before I bit into it.

There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but I was surprised by just how different all of these were, while they were also all immediately identifiable as being “pepper”. Revisiting something that I thought of as so ordinary turned out to be far from it. Now whether or not they help my stomach remains to be seen.

Oh, you should totally click on the picture up at the top of this post. I’m amazed at what my camera can do sometimes.

-Kevin (TFD)
*There’s no such thing as peppertoast.
Or is there…

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jameil permalink
    September 4, 2009 1:43 am

    i'm impressed that you had so many different kinds of peppercorn on hand!

  2. Kevin permalink
    September 5, 2009 8:24 pm

    Hi Jameil,It's only because I had a blend, and the types on peppercorns were listed on the container. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have bought individual containers of each of them! 8)Thanks for reading!Kevin (TFD)

  3. Anonymous permalink
    September 7, 2009 8:27 pm

    Bravo KevinYou make the point beautifully that every peppercorn tastes different….to every one of us. The thing is to taste them for yourself and see which ones speak to you. You were very brave to eat peppercorns whole. In fact pepper as in salt & pepper, are flavor enhancers. Every recipe says season to taste. That means using a good salt and pepper to enhance the flavor of the dish to ones own pleasure. Here at Flavorbank, we believe that unlike a simple flight of wine, a tasting flight of pepper is best enjoyed enhancing a favorite simple food such as mashed potato. Try this same exercise again and see how different the varieties behave "in action" as flavor enhancers. The results will surprise you (happily we hope) once again. Thank you for keeping our peppercorns on hand, as many of the finest cooks do. Cheers Flavorbank

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