Du piment dans la vie

Variety may be the spice of life but I am a creature of habit.

While I enjoy many different flavours, I am addicted to one particular spice: freshly ground pepper. Defying all rules of gastronomy, I cannot begin a meal without a few turns of the mill over my plate. Recently I added salt to the grind, a far more unhealthy habit. But how I love those little salt bombs!

I am also cursed with bad luck when it comes to pepper grinders. Over my lifetime I have gone through half a dozen of the things. All start well enough but end in the same way: spewing chunks of pepper rather than producing finely ground flakes. Is it simply because they get so much use? Or is it in the quality of the mechanism?

Now that our last combined S&P mill by Bodum has ‘rendu l’âme’ (given up the ghost) we have procured the king and queen of salt and pepper mills: Peugeot. I was vaguely aware that the French name most famous for automobiles also made mills. But I was surprised to learn that they began by making coffee mills and all kinds of steel implements, from saws to watch springs. The ‘moulin à poivre’ was introduced by Peugeot in 1874, way before they got around to making their first motor vehicle.

Now I see why they chose the lion for their logo: sharp teeth!

Only time will tell if these new beauties will live up to that reputation. For now, they work like wonders on both salt and pepper, with varying choices of grind size to boot.

Speaking of grinds, we are still struggling to figure out the future of our new home project. No news, I suspect, is not good news. Nonetheless, next week will see us taking off for Japan (fingers crossed I get a negative PCR test) and by the time we return in December I hope there will be more clarity as to when (or if) we will be able to plan our move next year. In the meantime, I will be trying very hard not to think about it.

How do you spice up your life?


  1. midihideaways · November 4

    I think you won’t be needing to replace your Peugeot mills in a hurry – I’ve had mine for close to 20 years, and like you, I use it for pretty much every meal! They are the best! I also have an old Peugeot ‘rocker chopper’, made from carbon steel. Makes short work of chopping parsley and other herbs 🙂
    Did you get yourself a Japan Rail Pass? I found that pretty useful on our first trip there.

    • MELewis · November 5

      Wow, 20 years! That’s impressive. 🤗 The rocker chopper sounds like a very useful tool — have seen them in people’s homes before but never in shops. Where did you get yours?

      As for Japan, we got a rail pass for part of it but not the whole trip (I forget why but it was cheaper that way). Also, we are renting a car for the last week in Okinawa, as it’s not served by trains, and then flying back to Tokyo. Hope all goes to plan! 🤞🏻

      • midihideaways · November 5

        I was given the rocker chopper by an elderly neighbour who was selling her second home in the village. Friends found one at a vide grenier, you might want to try e-bay or etsy. Actually, I just had a look at e-bay france and there are some nice examples for sale, one on a red background looks very good. I’ve hardly ever had to sharpen mine since I got it twelve years ago. Good luck with that, and have a wonderful visit to Japan!!

  2. margaret21 · November 4

    Like you, I’m a pepper fan. But there are few things that aren’t enhanced by a few chilli flakes as well.

    • MELewis · November 5

      Interesting…I’ve never tried them other than on pizza. Must experiment!

      • margaret21 · November 5

        You’ll get addicted 😉

  3. margaret21 · November 4

    Oh yes – bonne route, and come back with travellers’ tales and good news about your move.

  4. Kiki · November 4

    WOW, you do get around…. enjoy Japan. Is it a holiday trip or 4 business? And good luck for your new home, it’s a challenging time for these projects.
    I have several herb and pepper, salt and 🌶 chili grinders with Peugeot ‘mills’… not killable! Enjoy their fine technology

    • MELewis · November 5

      It’s a sabbatical trip as my husband gets an extra month paid vacation after 10 years with his company. So pure holiday! He loves Japan — he’s been there before and is even learning Japanese. It will be a first for me. All I know is I love the food!

  5. mkmiller09393 · November 4

    Your Peugeot mill sounds like the “Rolls Royce” of grinders! I got one from Penzey’s Spices 20 years ago, and it’s still going strong. You think you like pepper? When we go to a casual restaurant (not fine dining), my husband takes the lid off the pepper shaker, shakes a layer on his food, and replaces the lid. I pretend not to know him if anyone is looking…Good luck on your trip to Japan – we’ll look forward to hearing all about it, and that the house mess will be soon resolved in your favor.

    • MELewis · November 5

      Rolls Royce does seem to be the appropriate term, although they even do electric ones now (not sure I’d like that). Glad you have got your mileage out of yours! Your husband sounds like a ‘pepperaholic’. I must say I’m not that keen unless it’s freshly ground — the plain old grey stuff in shakers just doesn’t do it for me.

  6. Dale · November 4

    Back in 1995-98, I worked for Corby Distilleries. We had all sorts of fantabulous items that could be won in all the booze stores. Of course, that means that working there meant we each got one of the items – man, I miss those days. One of the items was a Ruffino (same label as the Riserva Ducale was engraved) “bottle” pepper mill. The neck cracked, we glued it together, it cracked another place, we taped it – still it ground. Until this year. I am beside myself. I wonder who made them? I mean, that baby ground LOTS of pepper in 25 years. Sigh.
    I am now shopping for a new one to go with my new kitchen which is 98% finished, sans appliances, still in the wind…

    • MELewis · November 5

      Well I had to google it and guess what? You can find it on ebay! (https://www.ebay.com/itm/224809533391) Maybe a replacement mill will be just the touch you need to make it feel like home (while waiting for those appliances…😠). You’re not the first person I know in that situation BTW. I think a lot of manufacturers are experiencing production delays at the moment. Hope you have everything in time for Christmas! 🤞🏻

  7. acflory · November 4

    I’m not big on pepper but I was very fond of salt. Beware the effect salt has on your blood pressure!
    I so envy your trip to Japan. Please take lots of photos for stay-at-homes like me. 😀

    • MELewis · November 5

      Oh, dear…can you get any decent salt substitute? It must be very hard having high blood pressure as salt brings so much to food. I will definitely take lots of pix and probably post them here or on Instagram (are you on IG?)…but maybe not right away. I’ll see, but thinking maybe a bit of time offline would be good. P.S. I know you stay home for health reasons but you seem to live such a rich creative life through your writing and animations…bravo! 😊

      • acflory · November 5

        lol – retraining my taste buds. So far it’s an uphill battle. 😉
        Not on Instagram but if you do a post when you come back that’d be great.
        Thanks, the Offspring and I are hermits by nature so socialising digitally isn’t such a hardship.

  8. Colin Bisset · November 5

    I’m a black pepper and a Peugeot fan, too. Had to get one after visiting the Peugeot museum in Sochaux (recommended, even if you care not much for cars) and even did a piece on them for the radio. (They also made bombs but we don’t talk about that.) Have a blissful time in Japan and enjoy every flavourful mouthful of its wonderful food!

    • MELewis · November 5

      Thanks for the bon voyage — barring an earthquake or a stray North Korean missile, I am certain we will have a wonderful time! 😅
      I care almost nothing for cars but if a museum is worth a visit, I will go! Years ago as a student on a European trip I visited the Mercedes-Benz museum in Germany and seem to vaguely recall something similar about bombs or weapons…maybe the dirty little secret of EU car manufacturers?

  9. Garfield Hug · November 5

    Wow! Japan – land of sushi, sashimi and wasabi! You don’t need pepper there as wasabi is the new pepper! Have a great relocation experience – enjoy toro there!

    • MELewis · November 5

      I wondered about that, thanks Garfield! I love wasabi too…along with all of the fish-based food (except maybe for breakfast….hopefully there will be other options!)

      • Garfield Hug · November 5

        Looking forward to your posts from Japan. Take care and have a wonderful expatriate posting there.

  10. Ally Bean · November 7

    I spice up my life with a set of Peugeot salt and pepper mills. Not as exciting as your travels will be but not bad either. Tender mercies on your adventure.

    • MELewis · November 8

      Oh, you too? Great taste buds spice alike! And I’ll take every mercy I can get…🙏

  11. Vanessa in France · November 14

    I use ground black pepper a lot. I have to stay off salt because of high blood pressure. We bought Peugeot salt and pepper mills a few years ago, but we were disappointed because the mechanism kept sticking and nothing would come out. So it was back to the cheapo Perspex version bought at Leclerc.

    Have a great time in Japan. Never been.

    • MELewis · November 18

      Hmm, not sure about the pepper but I heard that this can happen to the salt mills if you don’t use the right kind of rock salt. Could never find it when we lived in France. But it’s true the disposable mills are a good temporary solution!

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