A paean to Pastene Crushed Peppers

Pastene Crushed Peppers

Pastene Crushed Peppers, from their website

After all my whining about the bad food and low expectations in upstate New York, here’s one thing I definitely like: Pastene Crushed Peppers. These guys (or an equivalent brand, but Pastene seems to be the standard) are always at the ready in a sub shop where they will be applied to your sandwich if you ask for “hot pepper spread”. They’re not dried, not fire-roasted, just spicy and vinegary. So they add a few beneficial Scoville units to your hoagie without upsetting the delicate balance of oil and vinegar in the dressing.

My local sub shop (the excellent Roma Imports in Saratoga Springs, NY) charges a dollar to add Pastene so I just keep a jar in my fridge and spread a couple of spoonfuls on the bread when I get home. I also spoon it into pasta sauce whenever I want a little extra heat, and I suppose I could ladle it onto pizza as well.

Pastene Crushed Peppers are a true regional product in that they are universally available in any grocery store in an upstate or New England Italian American neighborhood, yet are invisible outside the region where they are processed and consumed. Do a web search or go on Amazon and see for yourself. Keep in mind these are NOT dried or roasted or Turkish or otherwise ethnic. They’re just good old pepper spread.

If you’re curious, you can buy a jar from the store on the Pastene website. A 16 ounce jar (enough to last quite a while) is $2.89 but they will then clip you for a brutal $6 or so shipping. Still, that’s cheaper than paying Roma to spread a spoonful every time you order a sub.

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