HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Why does Anne Burrell not use pepper?

I really enjoy Anne's new show [as well as Alexandra Guarnaschelli's]. She always cooks things that look good and I have also made a few items she has with excellent results.
My question is, why does she never use pepper? She obviously has no problems with excessive salt, but as far as I have noticed has only used red pepper, and then only a few times. I like the flavor of black pepper, but it made me wonder if we are just trained to add it to a dish, you know, salt and pepper to taste.... Anyway, I wanted to know if anyone else had noticed this and if you as well do or do not use pepper in every dish.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: KTinNYC

      Thanks for the link. It clears that question up. But, I still like black pepper!

      1. re: bookwormchef

        Most of us do. I would ignore her strange aversion.

        1. re: pikawicca

          It's not such a strange aversion. I don't particularly like black pepper, and if I'm cooking for myself, I don't use it.

          1. re: lisavf

            While I recognize your aversion, I still think it's strange. Most of us like the stuff.

            1. re: pikawicca

              I was wondering how big the population was you surveyed to be able to make the statement that 'most of us like the stuff'. I cannot stand pepper myself, never cook with it and have never gotten a complaint about my cooking. It would be interesting to really know how many don't like pepper...I bet the numbers would be surprising.

              1. re: sheltiepup

                If you dine out and for the most part "like" what you eat....you like pepper.Ground pepper,black, white,red,Szechuan ect is ubiquitous in most commercial kitchens.

                1. re: Duppie

                  I just now saw your response...nothing like being two years late. I do not dine out because I have no control over what goes into the food. So, I eat at home. Bottom line is, I do not like black pepper and never have.

    2. Unlike salt, which is one of those universal human necessities, pepper usually changes the flavour of ingredients as opposed to heightening them (by giving it a bit of a kick). You'll find that some chefs like to season with pepper and some on a case-by-case basis.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Blueicus

        About the only thing I don't put pepper in is my breakfast oatmeal.

      2. Just curious - given her Italian cooking background, is there any general aversion to black pepper in Italian cooking, or is this strictly her own doing?

        3 Replies
        1. re: applehome

          According to "Lidia"...Italians prefer not to have monodimensionally spiced dishes...as in generally peppery..but prefer to be "surprised" by a hit of pepper...so they often use pepperoncino (red pepper flakes, that don't dissolve rendering a dish generally peppery, but hit the tongue with a little pepper explosion...!!!)

          1. re: ChowFun_derek

            Mario Batali always refers to it as "a capricious heat." Different bites will have different levels of heat depending on how many pepper flakes end up in that bite. To accentuate the effect, add the red pepper flakes close to the end of cooking so they don't get as evenly distributed throughout the dish.

            1. re: ccbweb

              "capricious heat"! That's a great, and very descriptive term......thanks for sharing it..

        2. Interesting- I thought I was the only one. I don't put black pepper in 90% of what I make, and never in hot food. I use red and white pepper in everything, but black pepper in only chicken salad and Tuna salad.... and turkey sandwiches, and then I go crazy with the stuff. Oh, and on caesar salad. Otherwise- harumph.

          2 Replies
          1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

            Ditto on that, caviar! I thought there was something wrong with me because DO adores the stuff and I will almost always pass. When I use pepper, I much prefer white (e.g. egg salad needs the white stuff). We got one of those really neat big black pepper mills, I forget the name, and now we're both happy. He has 24/7 access to his fix, and I actually appreciate an occasional --- very occasional --- burst of fresh ground tongue-prickle. But mostly it makes me sneeze. I think maybe pasta needs it --- but I'm not wild about pasta (yep, DO adores that too). What I do want to try is Szechuan peppercorns, Fuschia Dunlop's over-the-top descriptions intrigue me -- but then again, they're not actually true peppercorns (?).

            1. re: BerkshireTsarina

              I make an oil of Szechuan peppercorns (aka prickly ash), and I also put that on just about everything.

          2. It would be interesting to poll a group of cooking enthusiasts (like chowhouders) to see how many used pepper extensively in their food preparation. My guess is that the vast majority do use pepper. It has been my observation that those that don't use pepper (extended family is my vantage point) were taught from childhood by pepper phobic parents. I know that statement doesn't necessarily apply to those posting here, just my observations in the family.

            1. My son (25) hates black pepper, but absolutely loves Italian crushed red pepper and grows his own jalapenos. It's just a taste preference I reckon. Oh and we as his parents use black pepper.

              1 Reply
              1. re: TrishUntrapped

                Agreed. My family poured black pepper on everything, and my mom used it heavily in her cooking. Me? I use it sparingly when cooking and not at all after. But give me some red pepper, jalapenos, arbole chilis . . .I'll pour it on. Just don't care for black pepper.

              2. What I have noticed is that everyone does use salt and pepper, no matter what the cuisine or the type of food being prepared. I have wondered for some time, how these two became a pair, but haven't been able to find any information on it.

                I don't like pepper, and only use it on a few dishes where it seems right. I will never again go to the Mexican restaurant that served me chile verde that had a definite black pepper taste. Why would black pepper go with a preparation that includes chili peppers?

                I have no seen Ann Burrell's show, but I recently looked at her book. I was gratified to see her comments on salt and pepper! As I've always thought, salt is a flavor enhancer. It's one of the basic tastes. It makes sense to use salt to bring out the flavor of the food itself. But pepper is a very strong spice that adds a whole different flavor, just as cayenne or mustard or cumin or horseradish add their particular flavors to a dish. But you wouldn't want to add any of those flavors to everything you cook.

                Somehow, people just got used to the salt and pepper thing. I suspect it might have happened way back when spices were used to preserve foods and mask off flavors. Or maybe the American cuisine was responsible. I grew up with the meat and potatoes cuisine, along with salt and pepper.
                I was used to it, but never thought the pepper did anything for the food. So I rarely use it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: CherP

                  I never, ever use pepper. I too have always wondered about the salt and pepper connection. Maybe the other peppers weren't readily available when the whole thing started. Interesting topic of discussion.

                2. I enjoy freshly ground black pepper where appropriate. That is, when it will enhance a dish. It is not by any means supposed to go in every dish, IMO. Comparing it to salt is apples to oranges.