My husband makes jalapeno popcorn. He slices a pepper, lets it brown in hot oil, and then adds the popcorn kernels. After a series of sizzles, hisses, and pops, he serves me his treat, all salted and spicy with certain pepper slices leaning toward hot sweetness. The first time he made me this treat, I was not so fond of it. I have grown, however, to crave it like some kind of crack addiction. It is a must-have for all movie nights at home.
For years, despite my New Orleans upbringing, I balked from spicy foods. Too much heat obscures the true melding and mingling of flavors. A little zing is another story—certain peppers have distinct flavors and a variety of sugar in their skins. There is something about living with my husband though, that has made me desire extra spice in certain foods. We now keep a variety of hot sauces in the pantry and there are always peppers in the vegetable drawer.
Huevos Rancheros needs jalapenos. Sour cream often benefits from Tabasco. Red pepper flakes add punch to certain salads. Horseradish sauce with a succulent, buttery roast beef? Essential. Who knew true love can lead to heat in the kitchen?