Are they teaching something in chef schools these days about putting black pepper on everything they cook? It’s rare to find a restaurant steak that hasn’t been coated in coarse-ground black pepper. They put it on vegetables, even corn on the cob. Just when you think you’re safe ordering clam chowder or a salad, out it comes with pepper on it. There’s even a restaurant that serves pepper bread.
When I ask for no black pepper, I sometimes get surprised reactions from servers and have even had cooks come out and ask why I don’t want their pepper-coated food. Some restaurants are so strict on recipes that the cooks don’t know how to cook without pepper. A steak specialty restaurant once served me steak so salty I could barely eat it. When I asked the server if it was supposed to be so salty she said the chef didn’t know what else to do with it when my order came in for no pepper.
You’d think we’d remember something that important, but neither I nor my family consistently remembers to request “no black pepper on anything” when I place a restaurant order. It’s not that I’m against using black pepper, I just don’t want to taste it. It burns my tongue and if I keep eating it, my lips burn, too, and keep burning for hours afterwards. I’ve never been tested for a black pepper allergy and I don’t swell up or break out or exhibit any other allergy symptoms, I just don’t like the stuff.
Most chefs use tobacco. Maybe that’s why they insist on cooking with pepper. They can no longer appreciate the subtle flavors of less-seasoned food. Something else I’ve never been tested for is taste sensitivity, but some of my friends think I’m a “super-taster.” I have no idea if that goes along with pepper aversion, but I do find I appreciate delicate flavors more that many people do. I don’t like bland, but come on, chefs of the world, there have to be better ways to serve food than to pour on the pepper.
Although I’m calling this blog “No Black Pepper,” I don’t expect to discuss only that condiment. We pepper our lives with all kinds of seasonings, many having nothing to do with dining. I relish the opportunity to discuss my preference for No Black Pepper.