"There's certainly too much pepper in that soup!' Alice said to herself, as well as she could for sneezing.
There was certainly too much of it in the air. Even the Duchess sneezed occasionally; and as for the baby, it was sneezing and howling alternately without a moment's pause. The only things in the kitchen that did not sneeze, were the cook, and a large cat which was sitting on the hearth and grinning from ear to ear." ~Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
I use a lot of pepper, although probably not as much as the Duchess' cook and hopefully with a better temperament. I try to have had on hand at least one peppermill filled with a mixture that I get from Rainbow Grocery. It's mostly black peppercorns with some red peppercorns and white peppercorns mixed in. I like the floral hints the mix gives underneath the heat. I also grind pepper in an electric spice grinder with other seed spices like fennel.
But nothing really replaces a hand crank peppermill. For years, mine was the peppermill I got with my utensil kit in culinary school. It gave me a chunkier grind that many people might not like, but in the dishes I was making, it served me very well. The cracked pepper roasted peaches on a summer salad pictured here is something I've made recently that uses a chunkier grind of pepper.
I had that peppermill since 2002. Then one night on a catering job, it broke in my hand. I was a little heart broken. I bought a new one that never quite gave me the same results. Eventually it got pushed further and further into the back of the spice cabinet, where I discovered it this week. I realized I needed to just bite the bullet and just get a new one.... or maybe three.
I stopped into Cliff's to see if I could snag one. I considered getting an electric one but I wanted to be more precise this time. I also wanted to be able to use different kinds of pepper without swapping them out of each peppermill. So I bought three grinders so I can keep the various peppercorns on hand without having to mix them. Some people might consider this a little fussy. Perhaps, but I'm pushing myself to be more deliberate in my work and less "winging it". Keeping a grinder for each kind of pepper gives me the ability to use them with more precision, controlling the various characteristics of each peppercorn type and applying that consciously to my work. And that's nothing to sneeze at.