Scoville Units

While I was eagerly awaiting my brother's wedding last weekend, I wandered out of my hotel to find a quality deep-south farmer's market set up right in the main street of Greenville, South Carolina. Everywhere one goes in the United States it becomes more clear that foodyism is a pervasive and persistent national phenomenon, and not just the passing fancy of an urban coterie of organic-obsessed hipsters. People care deeply about what they eat, and how it's grown, and more and more of them want to grow it themselves. Attraction to the slow-food philosophy cuts across racial, class and regional lines.

To my eye, one of the star booths in Greenville belonged to a guy who sells nothing but peppers. Unless I heard him wrong, he cultivates 126 varieties. He told me he "grows some other stuff, but only for eating at home, it doesn't make it this far." This producer-enthusiast had a couple of dozen small baskets spread out on a table in front of him, each containing a different variety of pepper, and he was able to describe them one by one with the sort of vocabulary I generally associate with wine tastings. Such and such a pepper had "floral notes," another was citrusy, this next one, more precisely, lemony. Two for a dollar, but I only paid for four; it was the end of the morning and my new friend, pleased to be confronted with another pepper fan, threw in a couple of extra pairings.

I asked if he had any "ají amarillo," the yellow pepper that is a critical ingredient in Peruvian cuisine. He said he wasn't sure exactly which one I meant; he grows at least five ajíes from Peru.

Purple cayenne, two of my free bonus gifts for the morning. I'll get back to you after I've tried them.

1 comment:

G said...

yes get back to us please, i wanna know, i love peppers too