We almost take pepper for granted, grinding it over all kinds of dishes before serving, but this ubiquitous spice is an interesting combination of heat and flavour perfectly capable of taking centre stage in dishes, as it does in both France and India.
Use black pepper for Steak au Poivre, to flavour butter to sit on top of grilled steak, or as an intriguing spice for fresh strawberries.
Green peppercorns match with beef and veal, seafood and light poultry dishes.
Ever wondered why we seem to sprinkle black pepper over every meal before eating? It may just be tradition, but science has now proved it's a wise move. Black pepper is good for digestion, stimulates the breakdown of fat, and enhances absorption of nutrients from other foods - so get sprinkling today.
WHAT IT IS, WHAT IT DOES
Peppercorns are the berries of a vine found climbing trees in tropical rainforests. Before the sixteenth century, when chillies were first brought to Europe from America, pepper was the main spice used for adding pungent heat and bite to dishes.
At high temperatures its flavour quickly dissipates, so it is usually added at the end of cooking, or sprinkled over food at the table.
IN THE KITCHEN
Black pepper is essential to France's steak au poivre and traditional English sausages. You'll also find it in India's garam masala spice blend and rasam soup.
Don't forget pepper when it comes to desserts either. Easiest is to sprinkle it over fresh strawberries or raspberries. A light black pepper ice cream is lovely served with fruit tarts.