MINORCAN DATIL PEPPERS

BY; JERRY DELANY

 

 

Let's start with the "Origins of The Datil Pepper."

 

The seeds of the Spanish Datil Pepper was brought to this land from Minorca Spain. It came along with the Minorca's when they came over with Dr. Andrew Turnbull and set up a colony in New Smyrna, Fl. In my research it is stated that the datil pepper is grown exclusively in the St. Augustine area of Florida. Now wait a minute Jerry, are you saying that the datil pepper won't grow anywhere else but St. Augustine, Fl.?.  No, I can't say that because I have never tried to grow the datil pepper in any other place than St. Augustine, I would think that it may grow other places but maybe not as well. I can tell you that the datil pepper is farmed here in St. Augustine in large quantities and most Minorcan families have several bushes of datil pepper plants around their homes. Some of this information is being supported by the reports of the "American Institute of Nutrition,1986" and "Sultan Chand & Sons,1982".

 

Let's define the Datil Pepper:--"Capsaicin [ kap-SAY-ih-sihn] A potent compound that gives some CHILES their fiery nature. Capsaicin is found in the seeds and membranes of the pepper. Cooking and freezing will not remove capsaicin's intensity, the only way is to remove the seeds and the veins of the pepper to reduce the heat. Capsaicin [ datil pepper] is known for its decongestant qualities and also causes the brain to produce endorphins, which promote a sense of well-being.

From THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd.edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

 

Growing up, I had a doctor that was a local Minorcan and his remedy for all ailments was "Take Two Datil Peppers, chop them up fine, place them on bread with butter and swallow fast", OH " Have Ice Water Handy", then call me in the morning. Jerry, you're pulling our leg on that one, HUH.?. Maybe just a little but part of it is true.

 

Minorcans use the datil pepper in just about all their food preparations and even go beyond that. You will find it used in clam chowder, pilau (pronounced-per-lo), dips, datil pepper peanuts, baked beans, special home-made sauces, jellies and preserves and even for a tooth ache. Now Jerry, you are really pulling our leg, aren't you??? No not really.---According to Dr. J Michael Queen, he recommends soaking a piece of cotton in a tincture of datil pepper vinegar and placing it inside the tooth cavity. Now listen my friends, I know the power that is balled up in that little pepper and you have to be careful in handling it. I use two pair of surgical gloves, a mask and eye protection when I cook with it,---that burning hurt takes forever to go away. While growing up I knew a girl that ate raw datil peppers right off the bush. It didn't matter if they were young and green or yellow and red hot,--she ate them all. Her stomach had to be made of cast iron. She referred to herself as a true Minorcan,--tuff as nails and as determined as a Badger. I can still see her in my minds eye, dark completion, dark hair, sparkling eyes, about 5ft. 5in's tall and weighed all of 102 pounds.

 

Our St. Augustine Minorcan Family know that a Minorcan and Datil Pepper go hand and hand together. Some of our hunters make up a poultice of datil peppers and garlic and hang it around the neck of their hunting dogs to ward off ticks. Minorcans use datil peppers for just about everything, even to stop a thief. Ooh Jerry,--I see it coming,--you're going to ramble off and tell another story,---right?? Well just a short one. When I was in school I took my lunch in a brown bag and each day I had four Oreo's in there . Well,---my Oreo's started coming up missing so I asked mama did she forget to put them in. The answer of course was "No-Why?"--someone is snitching them,--I'll fix their wagon. The next day she said; "don't eat the cookies,--their hot. Came lunch time and my Oreo's were gone again,--I looked around and there was my good friend Carl with a rag filled with ice and him sucking on it. I yelled over to him; "That's What You Call Minorcan Oreo's."

 

If you have never tried Minorcan foods then be prepared,---they are usually spicy hot. Now there are degrees of Minorcan spicy hot.

  1. When you upper lip breaks out in a sweat.
  2. When your upper lip and forehead break out is a sweat
  3. Items 1 & 2 and your ears start ringing
  4. Items 1,2,3 and you can't breathe

Jerry.---you are going to scare these people to death,--they will never want to eat any Minorcan foods. No, I think they will try some just so they can boast that they ate Minorcan style with Datil Peppers. Share the stories and look for others on web site;

 

Jerry Delany

Stories copyright (c)2000