Is That A Pepper Mill In Your Pocket?

peppergunHarlan Ellison likes pepper. He likes it so much he travels with his own pepper mill:

When I pull it out on a plane, at first people cannot figure out what I’m doing, and some even make snotty remarks about, “Oh, you travel with your own pepper shaker,” to which I ALWAYS reply, “Pepper MILL, not ‘shaker.’ You ‘shake’ that grubby thimbleful of crap on your lettuce while I grind fresh Jamaican peppercorns onto MY salad. Yes, I in fact DO ‘travel with my own pepper’ mill. Do you, and I hope the answer is yes, have a problem with that? Or would you simply prefer to fall enviously silent so I can lord it over you?”

The Peppergun from The World’s Best Peppermills appears to be his favorite.

I have a stainless steel pepper mill I got from Costco and it’s the best mill I ever bought, and I haven’t seen a comparable one since.

We don’t have a pepper shaker in our house – it just ain’t the same. It’s like comparing fresh mushrooms to canned ones – it’s a different product.

(Ellison quote from Unca Harlan’s Art Deco Dining Pavilion, 02/12/2005 to 05/24/2005)

11 Replies to “Is That A Pepper Mill In Your Pocket?”

  1. I don’t think I had freshly ground pepper until I was in my 20s. Or maybe we did have it when I was younger, but I just remember it. I don’t think I began to notice freshly ground pepper until I began to cook for myself. Then I noticed fresh garlic, which I’m pretty sure I never had once when I was a kid (though who knows, I probably didn’t notice that either), and other fresh herbs. These days I cannot live without fresh rosemary. It’s the #1 herb/spice in our house.

    Where’s that quote from Harlan talking about the Middle East? It’s a good quote, and has nothing to do with pepper.

  2. I’m not that fanatical about my pepper that I have to run around like an oddball with a pepper MILL. Then if someone reacts with surprise to my oddballness I get all haughty and shove it in their face that they are clearly NOT true pepper connoisseurs! No shit! It would be at that point that I bring out my solid gold cutlery which I gently massage clean with a cloth made of siberian tiger hide and ask ‘do you eat your food with THOSE public utensils?! Oh well, I can think of grosser things, I suppose.’

  3. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point in my life I stopped caring about pepper, especially pepper mills. So far there’s no evidence I’m missing out on anything special. A case in point: I read a blog entry today informing me that the stainless steel pepper mill at Costco is the best available, yet I season my macaroni and cheese (or Cheese and Macaroni) with stolen pepper packets from McDonald’s… (I have a mental filter that usually removes these trivial details, but once in a while they get through.) This is the first I’ve heard of The Importance of Pepper Mills. So I go to The Trouble of Mangling the Comment from the Guest Book. People spend time reading this. Seems like an awful waste of Facebook time to me.

    (Sorry Phil, I couldn’t help myself.) ;)

  4. Steve brings up a few points I want to comment on:

    – Costco HAD the best available pepper mill. I haven’t seen a comparable one there in about five years. I bought one as a gift there a few years ago and it wasn’t as good.

    – I keep those tiny pepper packets (3-4 grains in each, I think) in my car for emergencies.

    – If you like pepper, pepper mills bring out a wonderful aroma to the meal, in addition to a better pepper taste. It’s comparable to freshly ground coffee, I suppose, although I’m obtuse in regards to coffee – I can’t tell the difference between 6 hour old and freshly brewed. Sorta like how I can’t tell the different between rotten peanut butter or eggs.

    – We don’t have pepper OR salt shakers in our home. I once saw on a cooking show how the person kept salt in a small, open container, so if you need a pinch of salt, it really is a pinch of salt – it’s more convenient than shaking an inaccurate amount out or having the salt get clogged in a shaker from moisture. Unfortunately, guests at our house sometimes put salt instead of sugar in the house, seeing the open container of white stuff on the counter.

    – Posting about my quirks sometimes makes for interesting comments.

  5. I make the best macaroni and cheese. I take left over baked ham, chop it up. I nearly fill a small roast pan with multigrain rotini or a similar pasta (I never actually use macaroni). I squoosh up a can of tomatoes and mix it with chopped fresh rosemary, freshly ground pepper and lots of it, chopped red onion, chopped olives of any colour, and green pepper or whatever else fits. I might add some tomato sauce too. I mix all that together in a pan with the ham and pour it into the pasta already in the roast pan. I mix it all up and cover the top with grated OLD cheddar cheese and more freshly ground pepper. That’s approximately what I do. Then I put the cover on and bake it at 350 degree F for about 30 minutes, maybe 45. Anyway, I bake it with the cover off for the last 5 minutes or so to give the melted cheese a bit of a crust. It’s one of the best meals in our house. The magic ingredients are the fresh rosemary and pepper and the ham.

  6. Caitlyn used to love pepper, wanting me to grind some in her hand, where she’d lick it off as if it were sugar. Now she can’t stand it. My son, 3 years younger, loves the stuff like she once did.

    I’m getting fussy about my cheese lately, too. We eat a lot of cheese, usually buying the cheddar that comes in long sticks that cost around $5-6 bucks, but lately they’re starting to turn me off – too salty and gummy. I think I may have to spend a bit more for a better quality, getting something that isn’t manufactured within a couple days, getting a cheese that’s made the traditional way – aged in wax.

    My wife used to make cheese. It’s a lot of work.

  7. Switching to Old Cheddar instead of regular Cheddar was enough for me. Let’s take track: I’m a movie snob, a music snob, a freshly ground pepper snob, a fresh rosemary snob, and now a cheese snob. I hope I didn’t miss anything.

    Regular cheddar tastes like nothing to me. It’s like Cheez Whiz. After I made the switch, I couldn’t go back. Once in a while I try some “aged 5 years” cheddar. It’s good, but it’d be a waste to use it on mac and cheese, and the difference in flavour isn’t worth the price. Though maybe I don’t have a palette for cheese.

    Something you should try is proscuitto. Jenny calls it magic ham. You can find it the cold cuts section of the store or near the expensive cheeses. One slice on a sandwich is enough. A little goes a long way, but keep the sandwich simple so you can taste the proscuitto. I’M A SANDWICH SNOB TOO! I slightly toast some pumpernickel bread (or rye), add a bit of butter to both sides, some Dijon mustard (but not a lot), freshly ground pepper, some old cheddar, a bit of lettuce, maybe some sliced olive, and one slice of proscuitto. Talk about a sandwich! Proscuitto isn’t cheap, but it’s nice to try it if you haven’t already. Just don’t eat it on white bread. I’M ALSO A BREAD SNOB.

  8. jody can you elaborate what kind of emergency in your vehicle would warrent a packet or two of pepper….carjacking…finding or creating a tasty roadkill…i am perplexed…

    i have used an open container for salt for years…i love it people ask for salt..i pass em the salt and often they then quietly decline…at that point i scratch my nether regions and then offer to provide the salt for them

    phillip…try pancetta..you will never go back to regular bacon…it is costly put you only need a little bit..if you can get the chunks and slice it youself…in mainstream stores it is often pre packed in the deli section….and then try skunk it is delicious….

  9. > what kind of emergency in your vehicle would warrent a packet or two of pepper

    French fries. I love pepper on my french fries, and that’s an easy food to eat without distracting from driving. No, I don’t eat french fries in the car often. Maybe once a year when we’re going on a family trip. Giving the packets to the kids is a nice distraction from the chaos they’re causing too – occupies them for a couple minutes of silence.

    Yeah, pancetta is excellent.

  10. dead simple to make….you can find recipes wherever…just a couple of points if the recipe you find does not mention it….

    use half semolina and half all purpose….often the recipes will call for just all purpose…do not use all semolina unless you are using a industrial machine…you can use it for a home machine but it willl be very stiff….

    use oil…use salt….i use eggs (three to four a pound).. some use water…

    once the dough is kneaded…let it stand or “rest” for thirty minuntes before you roll it out…helps with the guletn formation…i think….

    i currently make a batch or two out of spelt or kamut flour…both are organic grains and i have people who desire this type of flour…i am not making as much pasta as i am making pastries and savories…started a couple of months ago and am really enjoying working with the spelt pastry flour…i am making the fillings today….pork torturerre..barbeque beef and sweeet potato…and curried vegetable..will be making pasta tonight…just making fettucine and radditore…..

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