As we slip into December, the cold winter wind begins to rattle everything that stood silent in our garden all through the long hot summer. The quiet of the morning kitchen is what I love to wake up to.
I slowly potter around wiping down kitchen platforms and rinsing a few bits and bowls from the previous night. I grind some fresh coffee beans, put on the kettle, make my morning cuppa, and as I take that first sip of coffee everything about the weather that winter brings seems to make that cup of coffee somehow richer, darker, warmer, both in aroma and flavour. Winter is a time when the familiar fragrances seem to quicken my heartbeat, send my tummy into overdrive, craving all things necessary, unnecessary, and comforting.
As I get hungrier through the day during this season I reach out for rich soups, roasted corn, hot chocolate. Dream of Christmas goodies, homely stews, spiced teas, dark coffees, and gooey cheese. I eat more ghee, butter, and, sesame, pumpkin, and add spices to my food like nutmeg, chili, cloves, cinnamon, and pepper.
Like winter brings with her warmth and richness to the season, pepper brings in both depth and spice in most of the food we cook all through the year. Walk into any kitchen, and pepper is what you are sure to find in some quantity, in homes, restaurants, and cafes around the world. It is after all the king of spices, the third most used ingredient, and the only spice present in most recipes the world over.
Used in both savoury and sweet. Pepper is often taken for granted much like salt or water but it was once used as money to pay taxes, rent, and to pay off debts. It is the oldest, most traded, and longest cultivated spice. Stuffed in the noses of Pharos, carried by Buddhist monks as medicine, and used to pay off ransoms, pepper has always been regarded as a spice of great value.
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