The Curse of the Bell Peppers

There are certain foods that are poisonous if not prepared properly. There’s blowfish, of course, which creates a tingle when eaten – unless the preparer nicks the liver in which case the tingle is followed by a permanent condition – death. Actually there is quite a selection of fruits, vegetables and nuts that have poisonous attributes (an interesting list is available [here].)

Bell peppers are not on the list, although in my opinion they should be. In fact, given sufficient authority, I’d insist that every bell pepper and every dish containing bell peppers would contain a warning notice. Something along the line of, “Contains bell peppers! Destroy before eating! Evacuate this facility immediately and do not return until Haz-Mat teams have adequately decontaminated the area.”

I know there are some relatively normal people who are fond of bell peppers, although for reasons I cannot fathom. If the average person accidentally put a live insect in their mouth, they’d naturally spit it out. On the other hand, some seemingly normal people will put bell peppers in their mouth only to follow with bite after bite.

I have a high sensitivity to bell peppers – if a large pizza has even one piece dropped on it by accident, bell pepper is all I can taste. The same goes for Chinese food – and “eating around the bell peppers” or “picking them off” does no good – the taste of bell pepper remains overpowering and debilitating. (Why doesn’t that happen with chocolate? Have one chocolate item per day and everything else would taste like chocolate. Too bad. That would be a much better situation.)

Cajuns figured out long ago that the only way to handle bell peppers was to cut them into small pieces, mix with celery, onion and garlic and then caramelize the combination. This is the only technique that adequately tames the bell pepper making it more or less civilized.

Lately, restaurants have gone from bad to outrageous in the use of bell peppers. I figure they must be cheap because when I’m dining with others and they order certain dishes that previously contained a garnish of bell peppers, but now the dish arrives with a 3″ foundation of green and red bell peppers. The amount of meat, fish or other items is reduced and replaced by bell peppers on about a 4 to 1 ratio. Bell peppers have been appearing in everything the restaurants can toss it with. Salads, sauces, soups, rice – you name it. I’m surprised you can’t get a bell pepper stuffed deep fried Twinkie at the county fair.

I’m guessing that there are two possibilities for the current state of affairs:

1. People are actually asking for bell peppers. I find this to be not very likely.

2. The food preparers have thousands of these in their kitchens because nobody really likes them, so they’re trying to use them up by slipping some in every dish they serve. This, I suspect, is the real reason.

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