Hot Dam

Celebrate pepper season and history

A rainbow of heirloom peppers is a sure sign of summer's wane.

Market tables are stocked with red and green shishitos, orange habaneros, cubanelles, purple bells and more. But this week belongs to the pale green and red Beaver Dam, whose 100th anniversary is being celebrated in restaurants and markets around town.

Brought to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, in 1912 by a Hungarian immigrant, the long, lightly spicy heirloom peppers are undergoing a revival spearheaded by Slow Food and The Scrumptious Pantry.

From Friday, September 21, through Sunday, September 23, the peppers will be featured as specials at such restaurants as Lula Café, Vera and Uncommon Ground. Go to Birchwood Kitchen for Beaver Dam pepper relish with poached eggs and grilled bread, and Green Zebra to try to the peppers with basil cavatelli.

Find them also at the Green City and Logan Square markets this weekend, where Slow Food will pass out recipes, samples and seeds. We like them minced with tomatoes, onions and cilantro for a quick pico de gallo, or blistered and tossed with feta, cilantro and a squeeze of lemon, a combination inspired by a recent shishito pepper dish at Avec.