Pepper Pot

The first effort of this kind which attracted public attention to the young stranger [John Lewis Krimmel, 1811] was his "Pepper-pot Woman."   Pepper-pot is an article of food known no where else in the United States but in Philadelphia - I presume introduced from the West Indies; and though it is, year after year, and day after day, cried in the streets, it is never seen at the house of a citizen by a stranger. The pepper-pot woman is ... only known in the streets of Philadelphia.
Dunlap, William. History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the U.S. 1834

The negro-woman lamented the ravages of the fever, because it prevented the sale of her pepper-pot.* 
     *Tripe seasoned with pepper.
Davis, John. Travels of Four years and a Half in the United States of America. 1803

The 'pepper pot,' for which our own fair city of Philadelphia has been so long celebrated, is, in itself, so happy a union of vegetable and flesh; and is, withal, so scientifically besprinkled with that condiment from which the dish obtains its name, and is so gustful a blending of soup and solid as mustplace it immeasurably, that is, past all taste, above the Scotch hotch potch or Spanish Oila Podrada, or any other dish of which the older nations of the world are wont to make such boast. Of the powers of pepper-pot, for quickening the intellect to all kinds of curious inquiry, we cannot give a better proof, than simply to state, that it is no unusual thing to see, in our streets, a tinor board, on which, in full round letters, and sometimes, also, in strange chirography, are to be seen this announcement:
"Pepper-pot -- Intelligence office."
National Character and Cookery. Journal of Health. Phila: May 1831

BOIL two or three pounds of tripe, cut it in pieces, and put it on the fire with a knuckle of veal, and a sufficient quantity of water; part of a pod of pepper, a little spice, sweet herbs according to your taste, salt, and some dumplins; stew it till tender, and thicken the gravy with butter and flour.
Randolph, Mary. The Virginia Housewife. Baltimore: 1838 [1824]

TAKE four pounds of tripe, and four ox feet. Put them into a large pot with as much water as will cover them, some whole pepper, and a little salt. Hang the mover the fire early in the morning. Let them boil slowly, keeping the pot closely covered. When the tripe is quite tender, and the ox feet boiled to pieces, take them out, and skim the liquid and strain it. Then cut the tripe into small pieces; put it back into the pot, and pour the soup or liquor over it. Have ready some sweet herbs chopped fine, some sliced onions, and some sliced potatoes. Make some small dumplings with flour and butter. Season the vegetables well with pepper and salt, and put them into the pot. Have ready a kettle of boiling water, and pour on as much as will keep the ingredients covered while boiling, but take care not to weaken the taste by putting too much water. Add a large piece of butter rolled in flour, and lastly put in the dumplings. Let it boil till all the things are thoroughly done, and then serve it up in the tureen.
Leslie, Eliza. Directions for Cookery. Philadelphia: 1840 [1837]

This recipe for far-famed "Philadelphia Pepper Pot" was given Mary by a friend living in the Quaker City, a good cook, who vouched for its excellence:
The ingredients consist of the following:
1 knuckle of veal.
2 pounds of plain tripe.
2 pounds of honeycomb tripe.
1 large onion.
1 bunch of pot-herbs.
4 medium-sized potatoes.
1 bay leaf-salt and cayenne pepper to season.
1/2 pound of beef suet-and flour for dumplings.
The day before you wish to use the "Pepper Pot" procure 2 pounds of plain tripe and 2 pounds of honeycomb tripe. Wash thoroughly in cold water. Place in a kettle. Cover with cold water and boil eight hours; then remove tripe from water, and when cold cut into pieces about 3/4 of an inch square. The day following get a knuckle of veal, wash and cover with cold water-about three quarts-bring slowly to the simmering point, skimming off the scum which arises, simmer for three hours. Remove the meat from the bones, cut into small pieces, strain broth and return it to the kettle. Add a bay leaf, one large onion, chopped, simmer one hour; then add four medium-sized potatoes, cut like dice, and add to the broth. Wash a hunch of pot-herbs, chop parsley (and addlast), rub off the thyme leaves, cut red pepper in half and add all to broth;then add meat and tripe and season with salt; if liked hot, use a pinch of cayenne pepper. For the dumplings, take 1 cup of beef suet, chopped fine, 2 cups flour, pinch of salt, mix well together and moisten with enough cold water to allow of their being molded or rolled into tiny dumplings, the size of a small marble. Flour these well to prevent sticking together. When all are prepared, drop into soup, simmer a few minutes, add parsley and serve at once.
Thomas, Edith. Mary at the Farm. Norristown, Pa: 1917

Both Philadelphia and Baltimore are renowned for their terrapin, red snapper, ducks, pepper-pot, deviled crabs, lobsters, and oysters- better oysters than Cape May coves, about the middle of September, there are nowhere.
Huneker, James. New Cosmopolis, a book of images... NY: 1915

A West-India Pepper Pot
TAKE two pounds of lean veal, the same of mutton, cut them small, with a pound of lean ham, put them in a stew-pan, and about four pounds of brisket of beef cut in square pieces, with six onions, two carrots, four heads of cellery, four leeks, two turneps, well washed, a bundle of sweet herbs, some all-spice, cloves, and mace, and half a pint of water; sweat them well for half an hour, then pour four quarts of boiling water into it, and skim it well; boil it gently for three hours, then strain it off, take out the pieces of beef; then put a quarter of a pound of butter in the stew-pan and melt it, put twospoonfuls of flour, and stir it about till it is smooth; then by degrees pour your soup in, and stir it about to keep it from lumping, put the pieces of beffin; have ready two large carrots cut in quarters, and four turneps in quarters, boiled till tender, take the spawn of a large lobster and bruise it fine, and put it in to colour it, with a dozen heads of greens boiled tender; make some flour and water into a paste, and make it in balls as big as a walnut, boil them well in water, and put them in; boil it up gently for fifteen minutes, and season it very hot with Cayan pepper and salt; put it in a soup-dish and send it up hot, garnished with sprigs of cauliflowers round the dish, or carots, or anything else you fancy.
Briggs, Richard. The English Art of Cookery. 1788

The pods of Okra (hibiscus esculentus) are gathered green, cut into pieces, dried, and sent to England as presents ; or are boiled in broths or soups for food. This plant is the chief ingredient in the celebrated pepper-pot of the West-Indies, which is no other than a rich olla. The other articles are either flesh-meat, or dried fish and capsicum.
The Gentleman's magazine, Volume 62 London: 1787

[Hibiscus esculentus, called gumbo, gobbo, okra,&c].... It enters, as an important ingredient, into the pepper-pot of the West Indies.
Chambers, W. Chambers's Encyclopaedia.1874

Among other recipes: Mason, Charlotte. The Ladies' Assistant. 1787;  Rundall, Maria. A New System of Domestic Cookery. 1824; Bliss [Mrs. of Boston]. Practical Cook Book. Phila: 1850; Cookery as it should be.  1856.  Peterson, Hannah. The National Cook Book. 1866; Rorer, Sarah. Philadelphia Cook Book. 1886; Gillette, Mrs.F.L. The White House Cook Book. 1887; Farmer, Fannie. The Boston Cooking-school Cook Book. 1911.

The image is John Lewis Krimmel's "Pepper-pot, A Scene in the Philadelphia Market" which was shown at an 1811 exhibition in Philadelphia and now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

©2008 Patricia Bixler Reber