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Hold the red peppers

Red peppers are ready for the kitchens and

Red peppers are ready for the kitchens and classrooms at the Culinary Insititute of America in Hyde Park. (Oct. 24, 2012) Credit: Rory Glaeseman

A friend told me about a disappointing meal he’d had recently, concluding with, “and the salad had red peppers in it.” This friend has apparently absorbed my dining-out prejudices, down to the nit-pickiest. I hate to see red peppers in salad. “The last refuge of the salad scoundrel,” I always call them.

It’s not that I dislike red bell peppers when they are on their own — roasted, sauteed, pureed (with eggplant) into avjar, the great Serbian pepper-eggplant sauce. But their distinctive flavor marries badly with most other salad ingredients, and the chef’s intent in deploying them is invariably “to add color.”

To which I respond, “Why?“

A green salad is perfect in its greenness like a golf course, a shamrock, a hedgerow. It needs red pepper the way the Mona Lisa needs a red balloon.

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