Our local newspaper used to feature a “Chef of the Week,” with a Q & A feature where they asked the chef random questions like “What do you like to eat late at night when you get home from the restaurant?” (I always loved it when they said something like “Cheetos” or “Cocoa Puffs.”)
One of the most frequent questions was “What is your favorite spice?” Most of the time, it was something ridiculously exotic, like…I dunno…salt distilled from the sweat of Tibetan yaks or something. Seriously, some of the spices they named seemed about that outlandish.
That’s why I was so delighted when one of the chefs said, simply, “Black Pepper.” I was delighted not only because it’s the most commonplace, everyday spice you could possibly name, but because it happens to be my favorite spice, too.
Here at my house we buy black pepper in the gargantuan economy-size containers. I use it for almost everything I cook except desserts. And if the recipe calls for a teaspoon, I make it a super-duper heaping one. I do it not only because it tastes good, but because black pepper has real health benefits. Studies have shown it to have both antibiotic and antioxidant effects in the human body. And, hey, it’s cheap. I can buy a colossal canister from the warehouse club for only a few dollars.
We buy it by the quart not only for all those reasons, but because we’ll never, ever forget that twice it saved our bacon. Yes, it really did. Because the most important thing I can tell you about black pepper is that it stops bleeding. On two separate occasions in the past few years, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I have had unfortunate encounters with well-sharpened household implements. In his case, a razor-knife; in mine, an electric hedge trimmer. If you like you can read about them here:
I won’t rehash the harrowing tales here, but I will tell you that both involved COPIOUS amounts of blood. And in both cases, black pepper stopped the bleeding immediately. Not only that, it really does have a significant antibiotic effect, as both of our very serious wounds healed with no infection.
I just hope nobody tells the pharmaceutical companies about how amazing it is. They’ll buy up all the black pepper, put it in a capsule, call it some silly name, and charge us an arm and a leg for it.