Ingredient: Red Bell Peppers

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Back in August, I went to Bill’s Farm Market up here in search of red bell peppers. There weren’t any in Bill’s bins, so I asked after them. Won’t be for a good month, Bill said. You can go out in the fields and take some pictures then. He knows me by now. So I went back last week and saw an avalanche of red peppers in the market along with the avalanche of people. It was so busy Bill himself was manning the cash register. I hesitated to ask him if he would show me to the peppers, but I did anyway. It’s out by the back barn, that way, he said, pointing. Feel free.

When I pulled up to the barn, there was a truck there, parked out along the rows of vegetables. Two men were picking. They looked up at me with curiosity, with a protectiveness for their field, and I told them Bill said I could take some pictures. They still looked at me curiously and I wasn’t sure if they didn’t hear me, didn’t understand me, or just thought it was all very strange in general, so I shouted, Bill said OK! Then they looked at each other and went back to work. The shots of the peppers were fine, but these guys were more interesting, picking in swift motion against a backdrop of green farmland, blue sky, and red truck.

It all fit together for me in the end, the beautiful scene felt so…ripe. Ripe red peppers (and yellow, and orange) are such happy vegetables, as happy as a ripe peach. Their tops are so pretty I like to slice them off and line my pickling, my mouneh, jars with them, facing out for effect.

It must be the plumpness of peppers that gets me. They’re jolly. They’re friendly. They’re welcoming. Yet tomorrow we’re going to take the plump right out of them for other—delicious—purposes. Bill said OK to that too, so I don’t think they mind one bit.

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  1. Roger Toomey says:

    The workers are a part of the work force that make the country function totally unseen by those outside of their colleagues. Author Jeanne Marie Laskas talks about many of these people that just aren’t used to being seen as they do essential work in her book “Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, An Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work”

    How many times we eat or drink or go through our lives without seeing the people that make our lives so comfortable.

    There’s an old joke—If all the ministers and all the garbage collectors disappeared at the same time; Which would you miss first?

    I think that could be updated to: if all the visible workers disappeared and if all the invisible workers disappeared; Which would you miss first?

  2. Bill B. says:

    Bill’s is absolutely one of my most favorite places here. I always leave feeling good about the world and a smile on my face.

  3. Tom McGrath says:


    These words and photos lovingly capture the sacred nature of ordinary life and help me see everything around me in a new light. Today, in a red-peppery light. Thanks for the care you take with everything that appears in your blog. –Tom

  4. Diane Nassir (My maternal grandmother was an Abowd) says:

    Such beautiful pictures!!! And words!!!

  5. Jerry Wakeen says:

    My wife Bev, this time of year, buys the red peppers and freezes them so she has access to them during the winter for things like stir fries, possibly other uses. I think she does cut them up into convenient strips such that she can remove a small amount from the freezer bag. She is always happy to tell me that these gems are cheap now but expensive later. Nice hint for you cooks, probably there are more uses than I know about!