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Pepper offers easier choices than salt. Black, green and white peppercorns are from the same plant.
Black pepper is harvested when green and allowed to dry. Tellicherry pepper is from India and is considered by many chefs to be superior. Malabar Black pepper is a close second.
White pepper comes from mature red peppercorns, but the outer covering is removed. It's a bit less spicy, and is great in light-colored sauces because it doesn't add black specks.
Green peppercorns are picked before maturing and are immediately freeze-dried or preserved in vinegar or brine. They're soft, slightly sour and a bit hot. Pink peppercorns come from a South American rose. They're hot and slightly bitter.
For a well-stocked spice rack, I suggest black Tellicherry peppercorns, a blend of three or four peppercorns (such as black, white and green and/or pink), and green peppercorns in brine. All are available at Whole Foods Market and Cost Plus World Market.
Freshly cracked pepper always tastes better than the pre-ground stuff, so I recommend a pepper mill or a mortar and pestle.
Because salt keeps indefinitely, you can never have too much. An old saying sums things up: "Salt is what makes things taste bad when it isn't in them."
And don't forget to keep your pepper grinder handy. Your food will taste better with both salt and pepper. My grandmother would be pleased.
Contact Andy Broder at his online address: email@example.com