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I had lunch at Alice’s, a cousin on my father’s side. She loves cooking and is a wonderful cook. Yesterday, she had made red peppers the way my grandmother Léa made them. Of course, the plate is much fancier than it was in Léa’s days! We had never heard of avocado pears then. But the peppers just tasted like Léa’s.
This is how Léa proceeded.
You would turn on the gaz oven, all fires burning, and put your peppers to roast there. Burnt pepper skin flew all over the kitchen and I was supposed to catch those flying blackened things and clean up. It was really a messy operation, but once it was over, you were almost done. Then, half burning your hands in the process, you’d wrap your peppers in several layers of newspaper sheets and wait till the job was done.
Some time later, you could rinse your peppers in running water, and again, you’d have blackened burnt pepper skin all over the sink. You would then peel whatever skin had survived that treatment from the peppers and lay them in a dish, sprinkle generously with salt, a good quantity of olive oil and a spoonful of vinegar, and there you were!
Of course, your kitchen was a disaster area and you had to clean up.
Cooking was not for sissies in those days, which is why Léa needed some help. I was only allowed to clean up after her but enjoyed it then.
I still have the smell of burning peppers in my nostrils.
Of course, my aunt Fanny and my mother, Gitta, developped a much easier and cleaner way of doing things. They put their peppers in a closed container in the oven until the peppers were ready to peel, rinsed them out, peeled them and finally prepared them just like my grandmother did, with olive oil.