Mr. Food: Peppercorn

The gourmet guru is here to spice things up! Mr. Food is exploring one of the world's favorite spices on the rack.

Being offered fresh ground pepper is an "in" thing for tableside service at many of our restaurants, as well as a big popular at our own kitchen tables. It's so popular, that here in the U.S. we consumed more than 100 million pounds of pepper last year!

Peppercorns, which are really berries, grow on vines and come from faraway places like India and Indonesia. They're the oldest and most widely used spice, dating back thousands of years. They're so valued, that during the Middle Ages peppercorns were often used as currency and sometimes as medicine, sometimes even as an insect repellant! Of course, today our favorite way of enjoying peppercorns is ground, in and over our foods.

Coming in green, white and black, peppercorns are all the same seed of the same plant in different stages of maturity.

Green are the unripe version, milder and sweeter than black pepper, good for soups, stocks and salad dressing.

White are mature berries with the outer skin removed. Their mild taste and light color blend well with cream sauces, rice, pasta, fish, chicken and pork.

Most common are our strong-flavored zesty black peppercorns, mature in size, but not quite ripe.

Want exotic? Try exciting pink peppercorns from Madagascar!

All of these work great in our food and as a garnish around the edges of a plate! You talk about restaurant fancy! Yup, no matter which is our favorite grind, color or strength, "OOH IT'S SO GOOD!!®"