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Roasting Peppers

The other day I was roasting some peppers and onions to make a delicious salsa, which goes well in tacos, burritos, fried beans or even over fish. Just when the peppers were almost done, my wife started to cough as it seems she is allergic to something in the peppers.

Roasting peppers was a very common practice twenty five years ago because they formed part of the daily diet, more so than today. There were these long yellow peppers that were roasted to make certain seasonings like the “recado negro” used to make that delicious relleno negro or relleno blanco or even chirmole, all very hot and spicy Mexican dishes. These peppers released a very strong aroma and many times it caused the villagers to start suffocating and coughing. This mostly happened on a very hot day when there was little breeze and the aroma lingered in the air for too long. You can imagine some twenty or more households roasting peppers at the same time in one small area of the village, considering that the village only extended from the primary school to about the Milo’s Hotel. Everything else was bush and uninhabited. The coughing obviously bothered the villagers, who believed that the very strong aroma of the peppers could cause some type of disease or that it could make a disease like asthma a little worse.

There was a time when the villagers made a law all by themselves and notified the police who had the responsibility to execute the law for the good of all. The law stated that anyone wishing to roast peppers had to get up very early before the villagers were out on the streets and do their roasting. This would mean that less annoyance would be caused because the bothersome aroma of the peppers would be in the air before the children were out on the streets.

Needless to say, there were some people who paid little or no attention to the homemade law. As a matter of fact, if a villager had some problem with a neighbor, she would intentionally roast the peppers at a time when she could cause much molestation. One could complain or insult, but he could not go to the police because there was no written law, only a verbal agreement by the villagers.

Now let us talk about some of the peppers that made good seasonings or salsas. There were the mild jalapenos and the hot habaneros. Then there were the tiny chile mash and the delicious chile catish which are excellent when you simply drop them into the soup, but do not allow them to burst. The Jamaican peppers are a special delicacy, which only a few people dared to eat for they are fiery hot.

Now let us make a delicious salsa, which is very simple. Place a few peppers, the habanero type, in a frying pan along with some onions, and one or two tomatoes. Use no oil; just roast over a dry pan. Turn them over to allow even roasting and you will know that they are ready when the peppers are soft and the onions also. The tomatoes will be slightly scorched and the skin will be peeling off. Now chop up the onions and mash up the peppers and tomatoes. Squeeze the juice of two juicy limes and add a tinge of salt and black pepper and there you have salsa that will make you lick your fingers in public or like they do at B.C’s.

Okay folks, go try your salsa with roasted peppers, but do consider your neighbors, and one more thing- they do not go well into a microwave oven. Use an iron frying pan or simply place them over the grill in the barbecue pit. Happy pepper roasting.

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