Thursday, October 13, 2011

Coralline Pepper

I recently talked about some foods combinations I like. I like spinach. I like bananas. I am not sure that I would like them together. Even in my wildest food dreams/nightmares I would never have thought of putting them together. Someone else did, however, and this is how it goes:

Spinach and Bananas.
Wash two pounds of spinach and cook for twenty minutes; then pass through a sieve. Add one ounce of butter, season with pepper and salt, and pile in the centre of an entree dish. Peel four bananas, divide them into quarters, dip each piece in beaten egg, then roll in fine breadcrumbs, flavoured with coralline pepper. Fry in deep boiling fat and arrange the golden  brown fritters round the spinach, and serve.
Times of India, March 2, 1914

It sounds interesting, and not awful at all, so I must not judge so hastily in the future. I could not immediately re-create it however, as I had no idea what ‘coralline pepper’ was. Several elite dictionaries were no help, most having nothing at all on the phrase, and one only going so far as to say that it was pepper the colour of coral. There were clues scattered here and there, in various cookery books, that it might refer to ‘paprika pepper’, and I am pretty confident that this is correct. The final piece of evidence was a recipe for ‘Coralline Rice.’ Sadly, I am unable to give you this recipe at present, as the newspaper must have been in very poor condition, and not all the text in the pdf is readable. It was obvious however, that sufficient coralline pepper was to be added to give the rice ‘a nice terra-cotta colour.’ 

Any of you have a more scholarly source, to back this up?
Quotation for the Day.
I detest spinach because of its utterly amorphous character....the only good, noble and edible thing to be found in that sordid nourishment is the sand.
Salvador Dali, 'The Secret Life of Salvador Dali' (1942)

5 comments:

Les said...

Maybe it refers to pink peppercorns?

I found this:
http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/coralline

I like to roast or fry plantains and season them with a blend of fresh ground mixed peppercorns, cinnamon and kosher salt. The pink peppercorns in the blend are a little hotter than the black or white. I can't imagine eating spinach that has been boiled for 20 minutes though. Than again it probably would be a very good sauce once it had been sieved.

Les said...

I found this reference to Marshall's coralline pepper:
http://chestofbooks.com/food/recipes/Cookery-Book-Recipes/Cooking-Classes-Part-3.html#marshall_s_coralline_pepper

Pink peppercorns here:
http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/06/spice-hunting-pink-peppercorns.html

They are a coral color.

Alys K. said...

"Color one portion with paprika or coralline, pepper..." (http://tinyurl.com/6jum3jk)

This might imply that it was paprika. What about pink peppercorns?

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Alys and Les. I wondered about pink peppercorns, but several recipes suggest black peppercorns and coralline pepper, which made me think they would have specified pink peppercorns too. Also the reference mentioned by Alys suggests paprika. Another thing is that several references to it say to 'dust' with it, no mention of crushing or grinding, suggesting a powder.
I am surprised at the lack of dictionary help!

Les said...

Pink peppercorns aren't a true peppercorn, they are actually dried berries. Maybe the nomenclature has changed since the late 19th century?