Peperoni with one “P” equals a pepper in Italy, but I know for a fact that when many Americans read this that they think of Pepperoni with two “P“s. Pepperoni is a dried salami (a dry sausage), an Italian-American treat, however in Italy they will have no idea of the pepperoni you are talking about to top your pizza. If you want something similar to pepperoni in Italy ask for a Salamino Piccante. Somehow in America the term pepperoni is a corruption of the word Peperoni, the plural of Peperone, as stated above the Italian word for pepper (the vegetable, not the spice). The first reference I could find in researching this word to refer to using Pepperoni as a sausage dates to 1919. So you get the drift…a similar word, two different things. So what is the history behind the real Peperoni.
It is said that one of the few crops brought to Italy by Columbus that was immediately embraced was peperoni or bell peppers, which now grow all over Italy. However, the Italian capsicum annum is quite different in appearance from ours — longer and skinnier. A young pepper will always start green, turning yellow, purple, or red with age. (Peperoncini is the Italian name for hot chili peppers). There are many uses for the bell pepper in Italian cooking; they are mixed into sauces, salads, and many dishes including meats and pasta.
Now that that you have knowledge that an extra “P” makes all the difference, you will have to try this week’s Sunday Pasta to finish your personal research of the word Peperoni.
Donna Picciocchi, Editor