How Syria’s Famous Aleppo Pepper Might Be Saved

Chef Jeremiah Langhorne starts diners at his restaurant The Dabney with house-made ciabatta bread. He turns this homey comfort into an exotic dish by adding a generous dusting of Aleppo pepper, an adobe red, large-flaked, native of its namesake city, Aleppo, Syria.

Like its ancestral home, the path the pepper takes from seed to plate has been tragically disrupted by war. And its presence in a Washington, D.C. restaurant shows both the complexity of the global spice trade, and the steadfastness of chile peppers.

In the last five years, with Syria’s exports unpredictable at best, many Syrian spice growers moved their operations north, across the border into Turkey, according ...

Winter is Here. Let’s Bake a Bûche

As far back as the Iron Age, people have gathered to celebrate December's winter solstice and welcome the lengthening days. As part of the earliest Nordic rituals, Yule logs were decorated with evergreen and holly, pinecones, berries and other ephemera of the forest, rubbed with fat, salt and wine, then set on fire. Even the ashes from these logs were valuable, considered to have medicinal benefits, guard against evil, and even ward off lightning.

Over time, the Yule log became more decorative and less imbued with magical properties. In England, it’s oak; in Scotland, it’s birch; and in France, cherry wood logs are sprinkled with red wine to scent the air before lighting.

For ...

A Calif. Olive Oil Maker Thrives, Despite the Drought

California is in the middle of a historic drought, but nearly half a million olive trees are thriving in the state. What’s more, the trees have been planted on land previously used to grow crops that required thousands of gallons of water.

The olives are being grown by California Olive Ranch (COR), which manages over 14,000 acres across Northern California. CEO Gregg Kelley says before olives, much of the land was being used for unsustainable agriculture. An example of that—the west side of the Sacramento Valley was previously planted with rice. “That land is in a very marginal water district,” Kelley says. Rice prefers to grow in clay soil ...

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