In her weekly column, author Wini Moranville featured the little-known French chile, Piment d’Espelette.
“What makes it so special? In terms of spice level, these piments aren’t blazing hotties by any means. Rather, they bring a more gentle spiciness, as well as an intriguing fruity angle. (BonAppétit.com identifies the flavor as somewhat peach-like, with sea-brine qualities and a “nuanced, subtle heat.”)
“Nuanced? Indeed–no wonder the French like it.”
To explain a little further: Piment d’Espelette is a medium-heat chile native to Southern France, in the Basque region. Introduced to France from the New World [Mexico and South America] five hundred years ago, Piment D’Espelette quickly became popular as a substitute for rare and costly imported black pepper. It is now a cornerstone of Basque cuisine.