Everywhere, black pepper "remains the coin of the realm," cultivated in both vast plots and family gardens. I meet an ex-policeman in his 80s who shows me around his pepper patch. "This is the pepper people fought wars over," he says, adding that soil, elevation, and climate make the difference. At a shop at the edge of the field, I buy a small sack of his peppercorns and open it. The smell "brings to mind fresh cedar," and when I crack one between my teeth, "it is hot on the back of my tongue but fruity and full of character." I buy two more bags: "I finally understand how pepper is supposed to taste."
Wow – thanks for the great info, JP! I’ve been growing my own herbs for the first time this summer with great success. The spearmint and sage seem to be doing the best, so I’ve been making large amounts of tea out of them. Been drinking quite a bit of both for about 6 weeks now. On a whim, I decided to google positive and negative aspects of ingesting these herbs and found that Sage contains large levels of thujone and should not be ingested in large quantities – yikes! And now I’ve learned from you that spearmint in large quantities may be shrinking my boys and lowering my libido – double yikes!! Who knew? What a shame, as I really enjoyed both as an ‘all day’ beverage. Oh well. Say, do you have any info on French Tarragon as a tea preparation? I really like having fresh herbal beverage to take the place of all the soda I was drinking.