UPDATED MARCH 17, 2013: THE POST BELOW IS AN OLDIE, BUT A GOODIE.
I DO SUPPLY DATIL SEEDS.
THE PRICE IS $5.00 BY MAIL OR PAYPAL AND FOR THAT YOU GET 2 RECIPES AND A PACK OF 20 FRESH DATIL SEEDS.
MY PAYPAL ACCOUNT IS NATCOAST@MSN.COM WHICH OF COURSE, IS MY EMAIL. FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME WITH ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT DATILS.
NOTE THAT THE PAY BY MAIL ADDRESS HAS CHANGED TO:
3150 NW 50TH AVENUE
CHIEFLAND, FL 32626
This pepper runs through my family almost as strongly as the DNA we share. This is a Datil Pepper. Don't go grab your seed catalog, 'cause you won't find it there.
Growing up in St. Augustine, we were told that the Datil was OUR pepper and would not grow anywhere else. Well, it is our pepper, but it will obviously grow in other places if the conditions are right.
We of Minorcan heritage proudly claimed this hot fruit as our own. Our indentured servant (slave) ancestors had brought it with them when they came to work Mr. Turnbull's indigo plantation in the New Smyrna colony on Florida's east coast. In the late 1700's the colony failed and our ancestors walked up the beach to St. Augustine to settle. They carried their datil peppers with them.
This is not just a hot pepper. It has a unique flavor unlike any other. In "The Pepper Garden", by Dave DeWitt and Paul Bosland, the datil's true origins are nebulous.
"In 1768, according to legend, Minorcan settlers in St. Augustine, Florida, introduced the "Datil" pepper, a land race of the chinense species . Supposedly, this pepper was transferred from the Caribbean to Africa and then to Minorca in the Mediterranean, from which it was brought to Florida.Some historians believe that this story is all bunk and that the Datil peppers were introduced into Florida by trade with the Caribbean islands, a simpler explanation that makes a lot more sense."
What is definite and known is that this pepper has been grown by St. Augustine families for over 300 years, passed down from generation to generation. It is a required ingredient in chicken pilau (perlow), Minorcan style clam chowder, datil pepper relish, datil pepper vinegar, etc.
My Papa was THE datil pepper grower in St. Augustine during his lifetime. He would start thousands of datils from seeds he had saved and grow them to seedling size in styrofoam coffee cups. When they were ready, he'd put a sign out in front of his big white house and the cars would start stopping.
For their money, his customers would get vibrant healthy datil plants and free advice from Papa. He loved growing those plants. He loved visiting with his customers. He loved taking his grandchildren through his tiny greenhouse packed with white cups and green heritage.
Later, when Papa got older, my dad (Papa's eldest son) picked up the torch, got a greenhouse, and before he knew it, his was the house people stopped at to buy their peppers. Eventually, he too had grandchildren to take into the greenhouse to water the peppers and dibble in the compost. Dad is 76 now and still grows datils each year, but not as many as before. He has cut back on the volume, but still supplies family, friends, and those who seek him out.
I am shopping for a greenhouse...