The pimente d’Esplette, also known as Ezpeletako biperra in euskara, the language of the Basque people, is an heirloom pepper grown mainly in and around Esplette, a village in the the northern reaches of the Basque region. It is to the Basque what black pepper is to the rest of the world: a mild and earthy seasoning ubiquitous in recipes and tabletops across the area. It is so intertwined with Basque cuisine it has achieved Protected Designation of Origin status from the European Union, indicating strong historical and cultural ties to a specific place. Our seeds, originating from a farm in Ohio and grown in Chicago, will not be receiving any sort of recognition from the EU anytime soon, but I do hope they will achieve the same smoky and delicate flavor in the sandy soil of the Windy City as they do in the foothills of the Pyrenees. I’m looking forward to drying some this fall and trying it out in a traditional few recipes from the region.
The pimente d’Esplette (or in our case, pimente d’Chicago) is a relatively low maintenance pepper and should be ready to transplant about a month after germination. Until then, cheers! Or as the Basque say, topa!