Ramona’s pimientos, ten seconds of simple happiness, between fat and soft

Ramona's pimientos, ten seconds of simple happiness, between fat and soft
The “pimientos del padre” of Ramona.

En September, meals sometimes take on a little holiday aftertaste. In the kitchen, facing the rediscovered fridge, the taste buds are salivating and in despair; they would like to cling on, a little longer, to one of these exotic flavors that they have enjoyed all summer long. Returning from Spain, for example, we will only think of one thing: to rediscover the fragrance, the texture and the warmth of the pimientos de Padrón, those little green peppers fried in olive oil and sprinkled with salt that you see on every street corner and at every end of the table in the Iberian Peninsula.

A Galician proverb states that “some Padrón peppers sting, and others don’t”: an allusion to the fact that there is always hiding in the middle of the lot a specimen more spicy than the others.

In Paris, there is no harm in filling the gap: both simple and enticing, the famous sweet peppers have become in a few years a classic for improvised dinners. From Amagat to Galerna, in the 20e arrondissement of Paris, via La Kontxa, this Basque-inspired restaurant in the 16ethey invaded the cards; they replace fries to accompany a beer or act as an ideal appetizer when you are in the mood to share.

The charm of an old-fashioned kitsch

But there is a place, in a small street on the heights of Belleville, where the peppers taste authentic – both timeless and fashionable. Chez Ramona is a small family restaurant that only opens after dark. Here, we have been cooking tapas and Spanish specialties from mother to daughter since the 1970s. We found its trace in some old gastronomic chronicles of the Backpacker’s guide and New Observer. The “pimientos del padre”as they are called here, once invited themselves to the front of a menu on a laminated sheet and never left it again.

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Seated upstairs, amid trinkets and outdated paintings, we order between two pieces of flamenco, taking the time to acclimatize to the charm of an obsolete kitsch of which only Spain in the 1980s has the secret. Meanwhile, in her tiny kitchen, Ramona, charlotte on her head, tirelessly repeats the gestures inherited from her mother of Galician origin.

The skin rustles under the tooth

Quite frankly, she grabs a large frying pan and pours a long, generous drizzle of olive oil over the heat. Once the oil crackles, she frys her pimientos before flipping them, like shaking a set of dominoes, until they get a light brownish color. She finally reserves them in absorbent paper, sprinkles them with a rain of coarse salt and clears them by the dozen on large white plates. Upon contact with the air, the peppers deflate like balloons and take on a slightly withered appearance.

Now, the best moment: you have to take the fruit by the stem and make it dance in the air towards the lips. The skin rustles under the tooth, the flesh disintegrates on the tongue: these are ten seconds of simple happiness, between fat and soft, which alone justify the trip.

A Galician proverb affirms that “some Padrón peppers sting, and others do not”: an allusion to the fact that there is always hiding in the middle of the lot a specimen more spicy than the others; a happy surprise that makes the eyes blink and awakens the taste buds. To find her, just push the door of Chez Ramona and open your mouth wide.

Pimientos de Padrón, €10, the plate.

Chez Ramona, 17, rue Ramponeau, Paris 20e. Tuesday to Sunday, 6:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Such. : 01-46-36-83-55.

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