Thursday, February 25, 2010
Time for a pink peppercorn revival
It's funny how things go in and out of fashion. There was a time back in the 80s (I think) when every dish seemed to incorporate pink peppercorns. Then a period, which arguably extends to the present day, when nobody would be seen dead with them. I bought some last summer in the market in Nice and promptly forgot about them 'til I rediscovered them the other day and started using them. On fish, in salads and on fresh young goats' cheese. And you know what? They're delicious.
They don't have the heat of black pepper or the spiciness of white which is not surprising when you find out they're not actually a peppercorn at all but a berry. They come from a species of tree called Schinus Terebinthifolius which grows mainly in Réunion, Mauritius and Brazil (or so I discover from the excellent Pepper: the spice that changed the world by Christine McFadden). The French, who are rather keener on them than we are, refer to them as baies roses.
McFadden also recommends using them in sweet dishes like jellies, biscuits and cakes, and gives a splendidly kitsch recipe for Pink Pepper Blondies which might be worth making a mental note of for Valentine's Day next year. I can also imagine them being good in shortbread . . .
Do you - would you - ever use pink peppercorns and if so for what?