Bell pepper plants (and all of its capsicum relatives) are native to the New World; they love hot weather, a good soaking rain followed by dry weather, and well-drained soil. This year’s cool, windy, relatively dry spring led to large, early peppers in my garden, big enough to stuff with sausage, shrimp, and rice (or breadcrumbs, if you’re so inclined).
Along with celery and onions, bell peppers form “the trinity”–the key flavorings in Cajun and creole cooking. Most savory dishes in Louisiana start with bell peppers, onions, and celery sauteed in fat, often with a small amount of smoked meat (usually pork). Dozens of distinct dishes, from seafood to poultry to beans, from gumbos and stews to dressings and dips, all start with a bell pepper, an onion, and a few stalks of celery. It is no overstatement to say that Louisianians can’t cook without it.