Seriously, how many kinds of pepper does one cook need?
Black, sure. White? OK.
But when you start veering off into what kind of black pepper (Malabar, Lampong, Tellicherry, etc.) it gets kind of nuts.
But that’s not all I have in my pantry.
There’s Szechuan (from China), Aleppo (from Turkey), and pink peppercorns (which aren’t peppercorns at all, but have a peppery flavor and look like peppercorns, only shockingly pink). I have two kinds of white pepper, the darker Muntok and the whiter (more expensive) Sarawak.
Green peppercorns live in two places in my household: swimming in brine (in the fridge) and dehydrated, snuggled up next to my black, white and pink peppercorns. If nothing else, I run an equal opportunity pantry. No discrimination here.
In all, I have ten different peppercorns (counting the pink ones, even though we’ve already established that they aren’t true peppercorns.) I don’t think we should go into how many pepper grinders I have.
Is there really a taste difference between the Indonesian Lampong and the Indian Tellicherry peppercorns? Yes, but it’s not earth-shatteringly-dramatic. The only way to discern the difference is to taste them, and that gets kind of hot after a while, but you can pick up different flavor notes. The Lampong is earthy. The Tellicherry has fruity notes. Both leave a nice after burn.
Pepper, right after salt, of course, is the most important seasoning ingredient in a cook’s arsenal. I’m not saying you need to have ten different peppercorns, but you should have peppercorns as opposed to pre-ground pepper, and grind them fresh every time to get the real power of this heady spice.
Everyone needs a little spice in their life. I, apparently, need lots.