Pepper, Proper

I don’t want to see one of those little rectangular boxes of pre-ground pepper in your kitchen. I’m serious — if I see it, I will throw it away.

When I’m cooking in someone else’s kitchen or giving a cooking lesson in a home, I’m often amazed at the supplies people have on hand. Or lack of supplies, I should say. I ask for garlic, and they pull out a jar of pre-crushed garlic from the fridge. I ask for salt, I get the girl with the umbrella. In cooking, the simplest things are the most important. I will tell you what you need to have, it is your job to get it.

Pepper is one such item. Please, please NEVER use the pre-ground pepper in the rectangular metal container. Get yourself a pepper mill — I like the tall wooden ones they have at restaurants — buy whole peppercorns (they can be expensive, but you’ll find affordable and decent peppercorns at Mexican or Persian markets), and grind as you need. Grind into recipes, grind over finished dishes. Grind, grind, grind with abandon. But I beg of you, just don’t shake.

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