What words come to mind when you think of French cuisine? Sophisticated? Traditional? Rich? These are excellent ways to describe exquisite and authentic French food.
But how about… spicy?
Spicy isn’t a word that’s synonymous with French cooking. But contrary to popular belief, there are many French dishes that excel at bringing the heat. And it’s all thanks to the small but mighty piment d’Espelette – the gorgeously red Espelette pepper that adds a touch of ‘oomph’ to French food.
Turn up the heat
While the piment d’Espelette was originally brought over to France from Mexico – a place famous for its mouth-tinglingly spicy cuisine – this one-of-a-kind pepper has a different type of heat. It’s not an overpowering kick, but a gentle tap on the shoulder. It’s warming. It’s aromatic. It’s smoky. And even a tiny bit citrus-like. It’s the next step up from a sweet paprika, for those wanting a little bit more.
Piment d’Espelette is the only French spice to have a PDO: a Protected Designation of Origin. This means that it can only be grown in the Basque region, in the towns and villages surrounding Espelette where the pepper was first cultivated in France. The PDO shapes how the pepper is grown. When you buy authentic piment d’Espelette, you know that your peppers have been grown sustainably in small plots, harvested by hand, and air-dried naturally for at least 15 days.
Take your French cooking to the next level
A jar of ground piment d’Espelette is all you need to add a little something extra to your home-cooked French dishes. There’s no limit to what you can do with it, but our favourites include:
- Stirring into a French mustard to maximise the warming sensation
- Mixing with butter to liven up your next French baguette
- Adding to a marinade to infuse your meats with a zingy flavour
- Sprinkling into hearty French stews during the winter months
Unsure about using piment d’Espelette in your home cooking? Then why not sample some dishes to see how this little red pepper can transform the flavour of classic dishes?
You can purchase French food online that’s been made using the iconic piment d’Espelette, and you’ll be surprised at its potential and versatility. Piment d’Espelette is often used to add a little something to piperade or ratatouille, or inject a bolder flavour to a pork terrine. It’s even used for creating peppery saucisson, and sweet and smoky pepper jelly that pairs wonderfully with meats and veggies.
Explore the other side of French cooking
Classic French cuisine may not be spicy in the traditional sense of the word, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a little bit of a punch. It’s an important and thriving part of Basque culture, and we believe everyone should embrace. So check out our French spices right here at BonneBouffe.