News: Stop Using Black Peppercorn—Your Taste Buds Will Thank You

Stop Using Black Peppercorn—Your Taste Buds Will Thank You

Every recipe on the face of this planet (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration there) ends with the same six words:

"Add salt and pepper to taste."

And so, we've dutifully followed those asinine words: at the end of everything cooked, we add a bit of salt, we add a few cracks of pepper. We eat our food, and assume that the seasonings we've added are indispensable to the dish.

But according to Anya Hoffman of Epicurious, we need to stop putting that shit on everything. That's right: from scrambled eggs to tomato sauce to even that lovely grilled hanger steak, black peppercorn doesn't add anything to the foods we love. If anything, she says, the flavor of black pepper can be so overpowering that it overshadows these foods.

Image by jeffreyw/Flickr

Obviously, if a recipe centers around the addition of black pepper, such as peppercorn-crusted tuna, then the peppercorns are necessary. But if you're at the tail-end of cooking dinner and you have the option of adding black pepper or not—don't.

"Black pepper is a brute-force instrument that makes everything taste the same," Chef Dan Ross-Leutwyler told Epicurious. He backs up this statement with the following explanation: "It just makes the meat taste like pepper—it doesn't bring out or enhance anything in the same way a few drops of lemon juice or a vibrant finishing oil will."

Apparently, black peppercorn is a crutch that we lean on instead of discovering better seasonings, or appreciating the more nuanced flavors of what we're eating.

Image by Khuntnop Asawachiwantorngul/123RF

I've never really questioned the "add salt and pepper" mantra before, but I've never been a giant fan of pepper either; I always added pepper as a bit of an afterthought because I figured someone else would enjoy it. But I think I'm going to start omitting that crack of peppercorn once in a while—or at least experiment with other seasonings that may do a better job of complimenting my dishes. At worst, I can always count on "brute" peppercorn to mask the crappy flavors that I end up with, am I right?

Read more about why you should avoid using peppercorns at Epicurious, and let us know in the comments if you'll lay off the peppercorns in the future (or if you think this call for less peppercorns is just a load of bunk).

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There's just one problem with your statement, some of us actually like the taste of black pepper in their food.

Now excuse me while I got sprinkle some salt and pepper on my beans.


Except, I really, really like pepper on many things. Specifically eggs, and specifically fresh ground pepper. I do put it on many, many things, but often it just adds to the flavor without standing out. I have heard the chef's lament about the "overuse of pepper", but screw that, maybe you messed it up for yourself but a lot of people enjoy it. Not one of the best articles on this site.

I really detest the little sharp burn at the top of my throat, and the "lump in my throat" feeling I get when I eat something peppered. A doctor told me that Ikm either overly sensitive to pepper, or actually allergic. Because of this, I Add pepper just about NOTHING. The surprise is that me recipes are delicious, and my husband loves them! My mother opined 41 years ago that getting married meant making sacrifices, an opinion to which in most situations, I subscribe,...but NOT with regard to ruining everything I cook with the nasty bite of pepper, which is inevitably followed by wheezing! Thank you for publishing for all to see what I've believed most of my life! A pepper-free world is a perfectly delicious world!

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