peppers of spain: la guindilla

One of the best things about being here is having access to the produce that dreams are made of. Whether it's a chicken that tastes like chicken, or a brussel sprout that bursts with flavor, it's a joy that I never take for granted. Even more exciting than the quality, though, is when you can get your hands on stuff that doesn't even exist in the United States.

Meet the guindilla.

The peppers of Spain, while almost never spicy, are all very unique and form a backbone of the cuisine in all the regions of the country.  This guindilla's closest cousin available stateside is probably the Pimiento de Padrón.  The majority of the bars here in Donosti have a ración, or large plate, of guindillas on the menu. In their young form, these small, slender green peppers are fried in screaming hot oil, tossed with sea salt immediately, and served up just like that, occasionaly accompanied by a sauce or aioli.

The fun of the guindilla is that every ten or twelve peppers, you get one that burns pretty fiercely.  This means that some of the population here doesn't dare order a plate, but for an American palate like mine, it means a chance to feel some of that capsicum heat that I miss so much. Guindillas are also widely used in their vinegar-packed, pickled form.  One of Donosti's most emblematic pintxos includes the guindilla. These aren't spicy, but they're another delicious variation on this very special pepper.