Before my father tasted any of his food, he’d shower the plate with red chile flakes. He even did it when, as a teenager, I made him lobster Thermidor for his birthday, a grueling task for a fledgling cook following a Julia Child recipe.
The love of hot food runs in the family. When I was a toddler, my grandfather used to dose my mashed potatoes with horseradish. The result was no lasting trauma, but a lifelong love of fiery peppers. We used to go through jars of hot pickled peppers. Salame was always spicy, salsas fiery. We can take it.
If my father were still around, I know what I’d be getting him for the holidays: the Trudeau's chile pepper mill with oversized ceramic grinding mechanism. I can see him happily grinding red pepper over soup, steak, pork chop, pizza, whatever.
Trudeau chile pepper mill from Chef’s Catalog; $29.95 in stainless steel, with free standard shipping. Same deal at Amazon. The online computer and electronics company New Egg had them in red, but they’re out of stock right now. If you want to check back later, here’s the link.