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On my quest to taste as many food as possible on Food & Wine Magazine's 100 Tastes to try in 2007, I found myself ordering Spanish Matiz Piparras from Casa Oliver for $6.50 a jar. Piparras are a traditional long green pepper from the Basque Country of Spain. They are noted by Food & Wine as a food that is only recently available in the United States.
Kate at Kate in the Kitchen was the first to taste these peppers. She ate them with rustic bread and sprinkled them with olive oil and salt. She liked them but I was a bit skeptical since she described them as having a vinegary taste.
I had the jar sitting in my cabinet for about a week because I hadn't decided how I wanted to try them. I know it needed more than bread for me because I only like sweet peppers that way. Casa Oliver says "they make a wonderful accompaniment to Bonito tuna and smoked fish." So last night I finally grabbed them to add to my leftover red snapper. Before I mixed it into the salsa I ate one raw. NOT my thing! There is nothing about that pepper that I liked to eat it alone. It was nice mixed in with the sweetness of the fruit in my salsa because it added a different flavor.
So tonight I went all out and tried them again. This time I took six out of the jar, covered them with Greek Olive Oil and lots of salt. I had the same reaction with the first one I ate - ick! The flavor is just overpowering. But by the time I got to the third one, they weren't so jarring anymore and by the time I got to my sixth one I decided I liked them. My mouth just needed to warm up to them. And they are a bit spicy, it just doesn't hit you until you have a few.
There is one thing I think they would be perfect for. Hotdogs! Chicago-style hotdogs are served up on a poppy seed bun topped with mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt (and NO ketchup). Piparras taste almost exactly like those "sport peppers" except without the immediate heat.