Darra Goldstein

Williams College
Editor, Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture

I worked with Sid on an article he wrote for Gastronomica with Daniela Schlettwein-Gsell on the core-fringe-legume hypothesis, in which he posits a triad of foods that constitute a meal in agrarian societies. The core—usually a bland complex carbohydrate—is made palatable and lively by the addition of a fringe, which supplies color and flavor. Here is my contribution to the repertoire of fringes, a wonderful red pepper relish from the Republic of Georgia.

Red Pepper Pickle

(Mzhave bulgaruli tsitsaka)

Makes 4 pints

2 pounds red bell peppers
2 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
2 1/2 cups corn oil
2 whole large heads garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups minced cilantro
1 cup minced parsley

Quarter the peppers and seed them. Place on a baking sheet skin side up and put under the broiler until the skins have blackened. Remove to paper bags to cool, then peel off the skins. Slice the peppers into strips.

In a saucepan, bring the vinegar and corn oil to a simmer. Add the garlic and herbs. Simmer 5 minutes, stir in the pepper strips, and simmer 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let stand overnight. The following day, pour into sterilized jars. The pickle tastes best when left to sit, refrigerated, for 3 days before using. Store in the refrigerator. Keeps 1 month.

Reprinted by permission from The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia (University of California Press)