Shishito Peppers

Monday, September 16th, 02013 at 15:51 UTC

Several years ago I was introduced to some randomly spicy peppers called Shishito. This was probably in Lisbon, Portugal were these are common as an appetiser. Since then I’ve been looking to attempt to grow my own peppers since they are impossible to find in the shops in Iceland. Back in mid-May I got my chance. A pack of Shishito pepper seeds were sent to me. They were promptly planted and within a few weeks sprouted. It’s now 5 months later and we have healthy looking peppers just about ready to pick and eat.

The obsession with these peppers is the mystery of whether or not any pepper you bite into will be spicy. They are randomly spicy, so only 1 in 10 have a kick. There are no distinguishing features which leads you to believe them to be spicy or not. It is nature’s Russian roulette.

These peppers are an excellent stand-in for much of the work we do around random sampling. Vísar’s whole business model revolves around taking a statical random sample which represents the whole school community. People are always skeptical about random sampling, but these peppers are a tasteful example of how you only need to taste a few to know that something isn’t right. Rather than being forced to eat every single one to determine some outcome, a random sample will do the trick.

These plants are annuals, which means that at they won’t flower again next year. That means that some of our peppers currently being grown will have to donate their seeds for next year’s batch. It is great fun to have some greenery growing in the office, especially such a uniquely random plant. We had considered harvesting some of the seeds and giving them away as part of the quarterly contest next year, but due to every country’s various flora and fauna import restrictions it makes things complicated. You can always order some seeds from a local source, they cost only a few dollars and then you can start your own pepper patch. If you are in Reykjavik and want some seeds or a plant, just let us know. We’re happy to donate a few while they last.