Herbs: From the Garden to the Kitchen
What: Lunch & Learn
When: Noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Eckert's Garden Country Store, 951 S. Greenmount Road, Belleville
Reservations: Required in advance to 233-0513 or eckerts.com
Features: Growing and selection tips, harvest hints and delicious recipes. Fettuccine with fresh herbs, corn orzo salad and a surprising herbal dessert will be served. Lunch portions will be served.
Where: Bee Hollow Market, 217 E. Main St., Mascoutah
When: 4-7 p.m. Friday
Q: How did black pepper become the table spice of choice? Why not salt and cumin? Or "please pass the salt and turmeric"?
A: While there are many kinds of peppercorns, the familiar black pepper ended up on tables because it is mild and goes with a number of recipes, according to Marjorie Shaffer, author of the new book "Pepper: A History of the World's Most Influential Spice" (St. Martin's Press, $26.99).
The reverence for pepper predates the Romans, says Shaffer. Most ancient cultures thought it brought health and cured a variety of ills. It was so sought-after that it drove the spice trade. Even Columbus was looking for it.
"Pepper's ability to insinuate itself into almost any type of food is probably the reason why it became the ever-present companion of salt," Shaffer wrote in an email. "Cumin and turmeric cannot be incorporated into nearly as many dishes as pepper."
-- Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte Observer