Picking a pepper from the potted patio plants puts me in a perfectly perplexing position. Nate has planted plenty of particularly identical peppers in one pot, so picking a pepper is puzzling. If I pick the wrong pepper, the family salad becomes an overpowering ring of fire that sends everyone to the kitchen sink—fighting to stick their faces under the faucet while screaming, “No more salads! No more!”
Here’s how we sometimes end up in this situation: Nate has planted about three different varieties of peppers in one pot—and they’re all growing abundantly. One is a mild banana pepper. The other is a not-so-mild banana pepper. The third variety is a kind of sweet bell pepper. However, all of these peppers are all the exact same shade of green (banana pepper green—a shade that carmakers have not tried yet and I can’t figure out why.) They’re also the exact same shape: banana pepper shaped (which would be a fun shape for a department of motor vehicles building). Actually, the sweet bell pepper variety that Nate has planted is not shaped like a banana pepper when it reaches maturity. However, it starts out looking like a banana pepper, which is really, really confusing. Inevitably, when I go skipping into the backyard to pick a pepper, I end up with the super spicy variety, which knocks us off our chairs when we’re least expecting it.
To avoid this trouble, I let Nate pick the peppers because he has a knack for weeding through the complexities of subtle pepper shapes and nuances. He shares a secret language with them. They whisper their stories, and he listens. Sometimes they tell him horrible, horrible stories about me. Here’s an example:
“She stepped on me the other day,” they say.
“Once, she licked me to see if I was spicy. She licked me!”
And Nate comforts each one and gently cradles them in his arms to bring them inside and set them on the kitchen counter. Then, we have the following conversation:
Nate: This one’s not spicy.
Me: How do you know? Did you do the “lick and pick” method? I swear by it. Lick the pepper first to find out if it’s spicy.
Nate: About that. . . they don’t like it when you do that.
Then, I open the sliding glass door that leads to the backyard and I stick my tongue out at them. Nate swears he hears them screaming.
The other night though, Nate picked a beautiful sweet pepper, which we all enjoyed on our salads. It was nice to eat a salad together without having to warn one another about potential danger lurking between intermittent pieces of spinach and tomato. This one was perfect—a perfectly peppy pepper picked from a pot of puckish plants.
Your Turn: Do you have a method for picking the perfect fruit or vegetable—either in the grocery store—or in your garden?