For more than a year, I’ve had this article (see above) I clipped from a food magazine tapped to the corner of my work computer. I have read it probably a dozen times, and of course (unlike those Harry Potter newspapers that magically update themselves), the message doesn’t change: much of the spice labeled “Aleppo pepper” sold in the United States right now is actually from the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras because of the on-going war in Syria.
Aleppo pepper is distinctive for its sweet, almost fruity, smoky flavor, which makes other varieties seem so Plain Jane in comparison. It’s commonly used in marinades for kebabs or sprinkled on grilled vegetables.
I keep this article posted as a reminder of my own personal commitment to cook Syrian food as a way to simultaneously bring attention to the conflict and remind others, and often myself, that the country should be defined by more than its political strife.
I also kick myself each time after reading it for not picking up a ton of pepper during my travels in Syria. But Reason #99 to return when things ‘calm down,’ a wonderful term I picked up from my father who uses it frequently to describe regions under siege where the specifics of what eventual 'peace' might emerge are uncertain.