Luigi’s Friariello Peppers
(Solanaceae capsicum annuum )
I have written previously about some of varieties of the small, thin-walled Italian frying pepper (see: "Friggitello, Friariello and Napoleatano"). The “Luigi” variety is from my friend and neighbor here in the Valley of the Moon. Luigui is in his late seventies and was born in Italy on a farm not far from Rome. In Italian farm families vegetable seeds were passed on to children and grandchildren much as we might inherit china or an aging Volvo. Luigi recalls this pepper being grown by his grandfather who identified it only as “our pepper.” Luigi brought his family pepper to California in the 1950s and has cultivated it since then in his garden here in Sonoma County.
I’ve grown several varieties of Friariello peppers and the Luigi family pepper has a number of subtle differences in the plant morphology and fruit structure from the named types that I know. It is close to the Barese frying pepper but not identical.
The culinary quality of the Luigi pepper is excellent. Few peppers can match the light, elegant and fresh taste of an Italian frying pepper. The thick walled bell types that dominate our vegetable commerce are dull culinary farces in comparison. Perhaps that explains a curious exchange I had with Luigi two seasons ago. I offered him a basket of Gypsy peppers I had grown expecting that he would be delighted in tasting this marvel of modern plant breeding. He looked at them briefly and then politely declined saying “I have peppers.”
Seed source: Luigi (of course).
Vegetables of Interest, 2007