One of the things that absolutely horrified me when I was a child was the amount of pepper -- and peppers -- that my father required on his food.
That man would dose his breakfast eggs with an astounding amount of Louisiana hot sauce, then grab the pepper shaker and go to town until there was literally a pile of black powder on the plate -- and only then would his eggs be fit to eat.
He had this vicious little pepper plant -- Mom said he found it somewhere in the boonies during their college days -- that grew these little cherry-sized peppers that, when ripe, were piebald red and purple.
Lovely little peppers.
Whenever we'd move, Dad would take a shoot and some seeds from the plant to pack up for our new home. We must have left pepper plants all over the Near and Middle East -- and the thought of the amount of bribe money my Da spent to get his peppers through various Customs agencies boggles my mind to this day.
Anyhoo, Dad would collect the peppers from his plant, bung them into a jar and cover them with whisky -- usually blended Scotch, but occasionally a bourbon -- add some other stuff, tuck the jar away in a dark, cool place and leave it for about six months.
Six months later, in a secret magical ceremony, Dad would decant about half of the peppers into another jar for the 'fridge.
These he'd eat, one or two at each meal, for the next little while.
The other half jar of booze and peppers went into a blender, with a chopped red onion, some cilantro, lime juice, and other stuff, to be blended until chunky.
I knew this was a magical ceremony, because Dad would be surrounded by friends, some of whom would be gazing rapturously upon the peppers, grunting and nodding sagely as Dad would hold up each ingredient before dropping it into the blender; others who would be dancing in circles, making mystical hand gestures in front of their faces and uttering the magic "Gah!" word.
Everyone would tell me about how wonderful! the taste was, but the tears flowing copiously down their cheeks did something to my desire to actually try it.
Long time Gentle Readers will have noticed that when I cook, I always use MILD Rotel and mild seasonings. Anything spicier than "mild" is outside my comfort zone.
About twenty minutes ago, mind elsewhere, I made myself a chopped BBQ brisket sandwich and brought it here into the office. When I sat it down, the top slice of bread went awry -- and it struck me: somewhere under that pile of peppers is a bit of BBQ.
I'm turning into my father.
My father died when I was 16. There is no "good time" for a father to die, but I think it's particularly bad at that age.
If someone had told me when I was 16 that I'd become my father, you'd probably have had a fight on your hands. Even a decade or so later, I'd've found the thought of becoming Dad to be amusing at best.
These days, as I search through the desk for my black pepper Spice Weasel, the thought that I've developed some of my father's mannerisms -- and tastes -- is comforting.
Happy Fathers Day, Dad. Love you.