You can’t be accused of being anti-some-group if none of those people are there. In your city, I mean. So in my mother’s defense, she was not anti-Italian. She was just allergic to garlic. And there were almost no Italians in Portland when I was growing up. Or Italian restaurants. The only Italian food she ever prepared came from green cardboard boxes labeled Kraft. She did like mac and cheese.

When I was fifteen or so, the first pizza restaurant opened up in Portland, on the East side, of course. Not on the ritzy west. There was so much interest, that a dozen police cars were needed to control the traffic as this place called Shakey’s Pizza Parlor began on 82nd Avenue.

Portlanders did their part by swarming to the place. Shakey’s responded by giving us authentic pizza. Northwest style of course. Pineapple and salmon.

I shudder at this deprived, if not depraved, childhood. I was thirty before I ate garlic. And I was way past that benchmark before I learned of the wonder of peppers. Suzen is a pepper fanatic and uses them year round. But now, when they are fresh and local and out of the ground instead of the hothouse, now is the time to enjoy them.

It seems ridiculously easy, actually, almost unfair. You get all that flavor for so little work.

Here’s how to enjoy:

Roasted Italian Peppers

Serves: 1 pepper per person


  • Peppers to your limit
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • More extra virgin olive oil or balsamic vinegar [optional]


Wash and dry the peppers. Cut off the ends, then quarter the peppers. Remove the interior membranes and seeds.

Lightly rub with olive oil and place on a heated grill. Cook until the skin begins to blister.

Remove from the grill and bring to the table. If someone wishes, sprinkle with more olive oil or a dash of balsamic vinegar.

Source: Suzen O’Rourke

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55mm Macro Lens, F/4.0 for 1/10th second at ISO 3200