Salt Peter – Out to Lunch – It’s Acadiana
You might have heard of a recent study about chocolate milk. Although it sounds absolutely preposterous, this perfectly legitimate study found that 7% of the American public believes that chocolate milk comes from brown cows.
7% of the population is around 20 million people.
Although it sounds laughable, the explanation offered for what seems like extraordinary ignorance is that so many of us live so far away from the source of our food, we no longer know what it looks like in its raw form.
Take, for another example, salt. You go to the store, you buy salt, you use it with just about everything you eat – especially in cooking – but do you ever think about where it comes from? Jeremy Conner does.
Jeremy lives in Lafayette but he grew up in Pensacola Florida. Jeremy still goes back to Pensacola regularly. When he does, he fills up a specialized container with 275 gallons of sea water. Jeremy trucks that water back to Lafayette. Through a process of evaporation and dehydration, he turns Pensacola sea water into salt. He packages it and sells it under the name Cellar Salt.
Phil Gremilion is a Lafayette native with an equally fascinating food product. Phil’s company, Papa Jaebert’s, is a spice company unlike any other in the world.
Phil is the planet’s only commercial farmer of a native Louisiana pepper called the Peter Pepper. It’s an extraordinarily hot pepper. By some estimates it’s ten times hotter than a jalapeno, and literally too hot to handle. When Phil harvests and processes the peppers he has to wear gloves and a gas mask.
But even this sci-fi image of harvesting peppers in a hazmat suit isn’t what sets Phil’s Peter Peppers apart from other peppers in the world. The most significant trait of these peppers are their shape. They’re called a Peter Pepper because they look like a penis.
If all that doesn’t make Phil Gremillion interesting enough, he’s also the inventor of the Cajun Cooker– – a contraption that replaces the Cajun Drunk Chicken beer can technique – and a similar cooking tool for turkeys.
There’s very little that’s more fundamental than salt and pepper, or, in this case, salt and Peter Pepper.
Photos at Cafe Vermilionville by Gwen Aucoin.