P-p-p-pick up a pepper… playing family with padron peppers in Vigo

by Alex Crossley - 20 September 2012

alex-crossleyGuest Spanish food Intrepid food blogger, Alex Crossley, plays Russian roulette Galician-style as she encounters Padron peppers in Vigo....

My travelling companion Gala spent last summer as an au pair in the town of Vigo in Galicia. My first time in this region has really confirmed what everyone says about this part of Spain being distinct from any other: the arid olive-tree lined plains of stereotypical Spain make way for a green land of thick forest and rocky coastlines broken up by inlets known as rías and dotted with tiny fishing villages.

Our time in this green and pleasant land was spent with two Spanish families, therefore we were treated to a typical Sunday experience centred around eating. A huge lunch of chicken and rice was prepared, followed by a family walk around a nearby castle perched up on the jagged rocks, waves crashing fiercely below us. The landscapes are somewhat similar to Scotland, this connection confirmed by cultural ties of Celtic dancing and the regional language influences. Then it was back to the house where another magnificent spread was laid out, including the famous Pimientos de Padrón (Herban Peppers).


This plate of Padron peppers is much more than an ordinary side dish, it is the source of much family fun. The small green veggies, glistening with olive oil and a generous helping of rock salt, appear very innocent and uniform. Yet don't be surprised when picking a pepper that the Gallegos around the table watch you in anticipation. They know something you don't… that although they all look the same, some are extremely picante (spicy) and you will need some serious bread dosage to follow in order to cool down your burning mouth. The funniest part is that there is absolutely no way of telling which are spicy and which are not. They are all grown in exactly the same way, it just so happens that some gain this picante character. Shoppers regularly ask grocers for a batch with no spicy ones, yet here even the experts are helpless, 'los pimientos de Padrón, unos pican e otros non" (Padron peppers, some are hot and others are not)… That's just the way it is!


This exciting ritual began all the way back at the end of the 16th Century when Franciscan monks brought the first pepper seeds over from the New World along with the body of St. James.

Tradition and ritual aside, the salty buttery taste alone is delicious and extremely moreish!

P-p-p-pick up a Pepper… Playing Family in Vigo by Alex Crossley.

Alex Crossley is "an English girl tasting her way around the world"; you can follow her adventures by checking out her excellent blog comomanger or by following her on twitter @comomanger.

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