Market Watch: In Ojai, hot chiles and a warm story

Market Watch

Steven Sprinkel and Olivia Chase with Espelette chile peppers grown at their farm, which they call the Farmer and the Cook, in Ojai. (David Karp / September 19, 2011)

By David Karp Special to the Los Angeles TimesSeptember 30, 2011

Reporting from Ojai—

Most native-born French recoil from chiles as if from snakes, but in the Basque country of the Pyrenees foothills, five miles from the Spanish border, the citizens of Espelette adore a unique local pod called the Espelette, conical, 3 to 4 inches long and medium hot, with thin flesh and many seeds. After harvest in late summer and fall, the vermilion pods are strung in ristra-like cordes, dried in the sun, roasted in bread ovens and ground into richly perfumed red-orange powder, with hints of hay, ripe tomatoes and toast.

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