Bowling for Peppers


We’re going to do a brief interruption of “Food Week” here on the JMD blog to acknowledge the wonderful Valentine’s Day.

Hopefully you all have someone to share this day with, but even if not (as with myself), you surely have some one(s) to reach out and remind how much you care for them.  For you and them, I say cheerfully, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Returning to our previously announced topic, I take you with me to a time approximately 20 years past.  This marked the period I was most active with bowling and bowling leagues.

My good friend had long been an excellent bowler, achieving some measure of local fame back when he was younger, prior to the Navy and a subsequent back  injury.  Though the injury would continue to plague him and cause issues that to this day seriously impair his ability to bowl, back then he was still able to roll the ball with impressive results when called upon. He also was instrumental in teaching me how to throw a true hook and convert from a plastic ball to a properly drilled and fitted fingertip ball.

Both of us were extremely competitive and we joined a men’s money league at the local Don Carter’s (a bowling chain started by the legendary bowler).  They were five man teams and the league was alread established, so we recieved three other “newbies”, two younger players and an older gentleman.

Since this is “Food Week” and not “Bowling Week”, I’ll leave the riveting tale of our meteoric rise from the cellar for another time.  The operative issue in the background given you so far is our older teammate.

Turns out, he owned a large vegetable grower, providing produce to many local restaurants and food stores.  One fine bowling evening, he brought in several large paper shopping bags (those of you old enough to remember the paper bags you used to get at the grocery store should be able to visualize these).

The bags were filled with peppers.  Red.  Green.  Gold.  Jalapeno.  Big honking bags worth of absolutely gorgeous peppers, enough for the other four teammates to take a bag each!

Let me tell you, these peppers were the bomb!  They were perfect; defect free.  Their taste was robust and bold.  During this time I enjoyed a new appreciation of the jalapeno and the many uses for it in dishes (cooked or not).  They were far superior to any peppers I had previously eaten.

We were even more staggered when he told us these were his “B” grade crops.  These were most often sold to upper end food stores or mid-range restaurants.  His “A” crop went to restaurants of a price tag I rarely frequented, while his “C” crops went to the mass grocery chains.

For the duration of that bowling season, we would eagerly look for our teammate’s arrival and wonder if he had more deliveries for us.  Over time, he made the transfer out at his truck rather than cause a stir in the bowling alley, but for that entire year (or 35 weeks that the league covered) we got a huge bag of peppers every week.

Today, I run around to fresh markets searching for peppers close to that quality.  I have yet to find one that matches those peppers in size, color and taste.  I miss those peppers, since they are probably my second favorite vegetable to eat next to onions.

But you’ll have to wait until Friday’s post on “Food Week” to hear a tale of tragedy and tears about my onion obsession.

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