Espelette Pepper

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Espelette Pepper Powder (Piment d'Espelette) (AOC)

Piment d' Espelette (AOC) is the beloved chile pepper of the Basque country. Some varieties of chile peppers are given treasured status in certain regions of the world, where they are celebrated in art, legend, the kitchen, and festivals. Paprika has such status in Hungary, the jalapeńo in Laredo, Texas, and the mole varieties ancho and pasilla in central Mexico. The Espelette Pepper has become a cultural and culinary icon in Basque country where it has gained controlled-name status.

When Columbus brought chile peppers to Europe from the Caribbean after his second voyage in1493, they were first grown in monastery gardens in Spain and Portugual as curiosities. But soon the word got out that the pungent pods were a reasonable and cheap substitute for black pepper,which was so expensive that it had been used as currency in some countries.

It is believed that chiles were introduced into the Nive Valley by Gonzalo Percaztegi in 1523, but it wasn't until the 17th century that it received its own genus and not until the 19th century that it acheived its status as one of the most loved peppers worldwide. In 1999 AOC was granted to Espelette peppers, or "Ezpeletako bipera" in Basque language, giving it the same protection as more famous names, such as Champagne sparkling wine. Only ten communities are allowed to use the name Espelette.

Piment d' Espelette is often used as a substitute for black pepper in the Basque country and in common Basque dishes such as spicy Piperade. Use it on grilled meats, ham (jamon) or in sausages. Mix Espelette Pepper into mayonnaise or in sauces. Sprinkle it on mashed potatoes, eggs or on sandwiches.

Each jar contains 1.41 ounces net weight of Espelette Pepper Powder (AOC) by Terre Exotique from France.

Espelette Pepper
Espelette Pepper

About Basque Cuisine ...

Basque cuisine is influenced by the abundance of produce from the sea on one side and the fertile Ebro valley on the other. The mountainous nature of the Basque Country has led to a difference between coastal cuisine dominated by fish and seafood, and inland cuisine with fresh and cured meats, many vegetables and legumes, and freshwater fish and salt cod. The French and Spanish influence is strong also, with a noted difference between the cuisine of either side of the modern border; even iconic Basque dishes and products, such as txakoli from the South, or Gāteau Basque (Biskotx) and Jambon de Bayonne from the North, are rarely seen on the other side.

Basques have also been quick to absorb new ingredients and techniques from new settlers and from their own trade and exploration links. Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal created a chocolate and confectionery industry in Bayonne still well-known today, and part of a wider confectionery and pastry tradition across the Basque Country. Basques embraced the potato and the capsicum, used in hams, sausages and recipes, with festivals around the area, notably Ezpeleta and Puente la Reina.

Cuisine and the kitchen are at the heart of Basque culture, and there is a Museum of Gastronomy in Llodio.

In the 1970s and 1980s Basque chefs were influenced by the nouvelle cuisine of France and created the nueva cocina vasca, radically original in its form but solidly Basque in substance, with lighter and less rustic versions of traditional dishes and flavours. Juan Mari Arzak in Donostia became the most famous exponent and one of Spain's first three-star Michelin Guide restaurants. In a few years the movement swept across Spain, becoming the nation's default haute cuisine.

Basque cuisine continues to have an influence on international cuisine, particularly in the rest of Spain and France where it is highly regarded.


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