CASBELLA AND IN-N-OUT


PEPPER WARS AT IN-N-OUT BURGER

CAUTION - PAY ATTENTION - I DID NOT

In Las Vegas on vacation, I wanted to try an IN-N OUT burger joint.   Next to the napkins there were two small trays of peppers, I love peppers, all peppers, Jalapeños to Habanero’s, and I rarely cook anything without some kind of pepper, they are the universal condiment of the world grown in all countries and they come in different flavors and strengths.  

I use mainly mild to mild-medium peppers always cooked.  I’m very cautious about feeding anything to my guests, and there are lots of homegrown product in the pepper field and anything including Listeria and a few other unknowns are all too common. 

Anything I get from a farmers market gets washed outside my house before it even comes inside.  Dirt, bigs etc, house rules.  I can add heat if needed, but deleting Listeria is not that easy combined with lots of other things found in raw foods.  I get the government reports almost daily on recalls and “dirty food”.

I like to cook internationally, favoring the unique flavors and spices  of Thai, Indian, Middle east and Japanese dishes and fairly familiar with most peppers on this planet.   Many of which are grown by folks from that part of the world. Since my stomach is from this part of the world I am cautious as any good chef has to be.


THE IN - N - OUT BURGER INCIDENT
The peppers looked great and clean. The guy next to us was munching on them like peanuts, so I thought they were just like Italian Finger peppers, or Chicago Hot Dog peppers, they must be OK.   I bit into one, chomped it and lit up,  and an hour later I was still on fire.  It took a Pepto Bismol and a Tums tablet dissolving on my tongue to put the fire out.  

Holy Sh.t!  These were most volatile anything I ever tasted. The company named them “Hot Chili Peppers”.  They were not joking.  And maybe these served at the store in Vegas may be localized to Vegas or California or one specific vendor, because of TEX-MEX influence and demographics and hotter peppers are more popular in the SouthWest. 

They are offered as takeouts (see photo) at some stores. The I-N-O net referred to them as Banana Peppers.  The web contains a whole page on searches by customers to find them, what and where to find these peppers including some statements from IN - N - OUT  

We have a name, they are Casabella Peppers, early picking as they will turn red.

And they are not like Banana Peppers. But the Pepper industry is unique, mainly because of demand and the fact they are hardy and mutate easily.  We went into research mode, it’s what I do, and found out the sudden scarcity of Casabella peppers 
(which means beautiful house and sometimes spelled Cascabella)  had customers complaining, restaurants scrambling for alternatives, and suppliers’ business suffering. All are waiting for a healthy new crop to arrive and normalize the shortage, which started taking hold as far back as November.

A reported combination of bad weather, disease, and poor soil conditions reduced the overall cascabella supply as much as 60 percent this year, making the shortage the greatest in industry history. The list of restaurants currently running low or completely out of the chilies includes In-N-Out Burger, Carl's Jr., and Zankou Chicken.


PEPPER BREEDING
A REAL BUSINESS 

A unique part of home bred cooking is the extent some Pepper purist will go to reach the ultimate top of the game.  Breeding and developing peppers might one day become an olympic sport.  

Which is not unusual in the Pepper Cross Breeding business where the ultimate thrill is to eat a pepper and watch your  (or your friends)  stomach explode sprouting fire as you head for the head100 yards away.  Ghost peppers, the Carolina Reaper and the Trinidad Moruga Scorpions were bred to be hot and they are  forcing the Scoville charts to rethink the top end which is being challenged by the Pepper X, guaranteed to place you in orbit if eaten raw.  We won’t need rockets.

Now the company when asked explained that California is experiencing a shortage in yellow banana pepper crops, citing that this year's demand exceeded the supply. She also said that it’s affecting multiple locations, however, the next harvest is expected to come in early summer.  The company would not disclose the supplier of these peppers.  To me that is a flag.   Also they may change brands and types to meet regional needs but I am an investigative reporter and I smell stories when it comes to food.  

Calls to In-N-Out’s Southern California-based corporate headquarters to inquire about the shortage. It’s referred to the current situation as, “An industry-wide pepper shortage.” The "shortage" is not yet affecting the chopped chilies that can be added to fries or burgers, but if you want a side-order of whole yellow banana peppers, that's when the pepper rationing gets real.

A memo from In-N-Out, dated for May 9 and addressed to its California stores, was posted on Twitter May 15. The memo directs In-N-Out employees to keep, “ Chilies away from ketchup stations,” and to serve guests only two chilies in a “Soufflé cup per request.”  It’s like a frickin trade secret of the name of the pepper. 

Finally a name... As explained in a report by Munchies, a shortage of the small, yellow pickled peppers -- Casabella peppers -- due to a combination of factors that have affected crops, like bad weather and soil conditions.  These are the Casabella which translates as “ beautiful house".   And you can buy seeds now, plants are unavailable as of July but with seeds grow your own.   see Chileplants.com   They start yellow but will turn red. 


SUBSTITUTE
T
his is a hot topic (pun) and I think those Peppers could be substituted and are very are close to the Udupi Indian peppers in size and color and have nothing to do with Banana Peppers. 

I think they may consider importing from India so they won’t run out.  They are also called Canthari Chili’s,  also known as “ White Bird Pepper” and this variety is popular in Kerala and in Sri Lanka.  

Small yellow white variety of chili grown in Udupi district, India, often used in chutneys and pickles” just like the Casabella’s and recently planted in the US, seeds are available for do it yourself on eBay.  India is the world’s biggest producer, consumer and exporter of chili peppers. 

Guntur in the South Indian State of Andhra Pradesh produces 30% of all the chilies produced in India. Andhra Pradesh as a whole contributes 75% of India's chili exports.


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