Peppers, pepperonis, chilis, Pimentoes - even Curries....all of them hot things....!
Pfeffern, Peperoni, Chilis, Pimentes, sogar Curry...Alle Heisse-Sachen........!
Poivre, poivrons, Chili, même des Curry, Pimentes -
toutes et tous des choses chaude...!
World wide it's more or less the same routine. A slow, occasionally sudden, change of complexion of the eater, but in most cases the same action - an abrupt snatch at the nearest liquid followed by the swallowing of whatever that might be...wine, water, sometimes even the ketchup bottle...in a frenzy...!
For the experienced, it's always better than a night out at the Cinema or the Theatre or the Opera, because you get the same effects and conditions - all rolled into one, free of charge, just watching...!
Poor Devils, they've just made their first attempts at "exotique" foodstuffs.
The French and the Germans , one must say, have no idea of what a "hot" curry is.
Strictly speaking "highly spiced" is more the correct term, but in those two countries, the stuff on offer both in the Restaurants or Supermarkets, or in those glass "herb and spice" bottles marked "Curry" has nothing whatsoever to do with the real article - the Germans actually have enormous bags and dispensers full of these "mixes" which they shake extremely liberally on top of the ketchup which is on top of the grilled sausage - there you are - one of the national dishes, "Currywurst! Not something I could say to....!
Yes - it has a taste of sorts, but it doesn't fulfill its purpose.
That those two countries are both countries who use herbs to a very large degree in almost all of their dishes, much much more than in the UK, for example, is no excuse that their Curries are "null - zero - nix"....!
The Indians, on the other hand, make it so "highly spiced" that it does fulfill it's original purpose - to hide the fact that the meat or fish used was probably foul...! No fridges in those days, and transport slow and unreliable so something had to be done. In certain places, all over the world, the practice is still used and the eater has the right to feel the effects desired by the British curry eaters.....clean out the system, both top and bottom together, at the same time, burn piles (haemorrhoids), and advance the sales of toilet paper. Since the real UK curry eater tends to partake of his vices on a Saturday evening, after a few pints of lukewarm, flat beer or Ale, the spiced curry acts as a "soberer" simply because when everything comes out, so does the alcohol....!
I was dismayed and alarmed to see that on my last visit to UK, the traditional "Saturday evening after the pub" meal of "fish & chips" had been replaced by a "Tandoori" or some other curry, and even those who held by tradition insisted on their fish and chips with curry sauce - "splashed on all over" - mind you, reasonable, because nearly all the Traditional Fish'nChips places are now run by Indians or Cantonese people!
In France, they have many varieties of "peppers" probably the most well known one being the famous " ". It even has it's own classification "AOC" which means it is "controlled" for quality. Basque cooking is unthinkable without this ingredient and you'll find it everywhere, drying out to become a little bomb of flavour and occasional suffering...For those readers who just can't leave chocolate out of any theme, there is even this:
Yes - dark chocolate with Piment d'Espelette flavour!
There is even Piment ice cream available....!
Here it is - in it's natural state - before ripening, used green or red...perfectly avoidable for UK Tourists, in general...! These two appreciated the fact just a little too late... and the restaurant did not carry any warning posters...
such as this one!
On the other hand, there are certain races and Nations who simply could not live without these mind-benders and mouth-busters, I know of one such place in Montpellier, France, called "Something Islands" where not even the owner nor his staff are ever sure what they are eating and drinking, and whether they will be alive in the morning...!
One thing is known - the percentage of treatment for piles is low in such countries.
Of course, not ALL "peppers" are agressively spicy, hot, in fact the ones eaten most in Europe over the whole year (in winter from greenhouses) are actually grown, mainly in HOLLAND - not a country noted for it's agressive cooking, hot and spicy...and are called "Paprikas" or "Red Peppers" or Green or Yellow...! In fact, it was Holland who first thought up the idea of selling the "tri-coloured" nets in various countrie's colours, (just add the green and you've got it covered) and they sell them with great success. The peppers themselves are more than innocous, having little taste, no "peppery" effect, and tend to be actually rather sweetish in taste. They do have quite a large content in sugar, something you can prove easily - just put a slice to fry in a shallow pan and watch it "caramelize"! Other varieties, slightly more "spicy" are the vital ingredient in Balkan dishes, such as "Goulash or Gulyash" from Germany, Hungary and elsewhere.
Of course, those countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal, France also all have these "tricksters", and it would be a scandal if, in France, any home gardener didn't have his "poivrons" in between his tomatoes.
In fact - coming from the same family (both of them are botanically and in the culinary not classified as vegetables, but as fruits, these two ingredients are to France what rice is to China or India - particularly in Summer. They are served, stuffed, grilled, fried, in batter, raw in salads, and any other way you can think of. As garnish for EVERYTHING, they add colour, maybe a little taste and are pleasant enough.
Like all vegetables with a "cellulose" covering or content (tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers,gherkins, peppers......) - if they are not peeled or skinned, your next morning visit will recall what you ate the night before. The human being cannot digest cellulose, which is why cucumbers, in particular should be peeled, maybe just leaving one or two thin bands of the "skin" for colour. It's actually the cellulose that gives us "heartburn" - not the peppers so don't try eating these they'll only come out the same as they went in.......!
Nice to know - huh?
Once again, the subject is vast, cannot be covered in one article, so I'll have to return in the future..
iwmpop(mr le marquis) - Vauvert, France - Octobre 2010
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