Seeds of the Baron

A lesser known fact about the man who the town of Castine, Maine was named after is that Baron Jean-Vincent de St. Castin was a secretive connoisseur of spices.  In the early 1660’s he established a secret society in France solely dedicated to the love of hot spices and peppers.  The group, Adorateurs du poivre de la chaleur, counted among it some of the most powerful people in France.  Regularly they would meet to exchange recipes and have tasting competitions .  Twice a year they would have a  special ceremony Le jour de la poivre long (day of the long pepper) on the Equinox.  Combining cooking, tasting and various rituals the ceremony was attended by all members of Adorateurs du poivre de la chaleur.

Castine, Maine

Castine, Maine is one of the oldest communities in North America. It has been occupied continuously since the early 1600s as the site of numerous trading posts, forts, missions and permanent settlements of France, Holland, England and colonial America. A French officer, Jean Vincent d'Abbadie de St. Castin, obtained a grant from the King of France for land in the vicinity of Pentagoet and the peninsula that would eventually bear his name.

To this day, Castine is a thriving community with some of the richest heritage in all of North America.

Joining the Adorateurs du poivre de la chaleur required a swearing of allegiance and secrecy to the group.  In 1666, after losing the Le jour de la poivre long, a disgruntled member broke  his silence and the group was exposed.  The members were outed and faced public ridicule from the culinary powers that be in France.

Conveniently, Baron Castin, was dispatched to take command of Pentogoet in 1667 and gladly accepted the assignment.  He could not though, give up his love of hot peppers and smuggled seeds from his pepper garden on the voyage to the New World.

Thinking he would be safe from pepper persecution, he attempted to plant his garden in 1668, but was quickly thwarted by his native wife Mathilde who deemed the peppers as a distraction from his marital duties.  The Baron was once again forced underground for his love of peppers.  All believed he had given up his peppers, as evidenced by his continued commitment to his wife and his fathering of 10 children.

He continued, though, to grow his peppers in secret.  Shortly before his return to France, fearing retribution if he brought his peppers back to France, he buried seeds  from each of his varieties in an unmarked area on what is now known as Water Street.   The wooden box with two padlocks was simply labeled Chaud, Chaud, Chaud.

There the box sat for nearly 350 years.

In 2010, a local resident was walking their dog along Water St. when the dog started to inexplicably dig with furious speed.  There buried among the bamboo was the Baron’s box.  With the padlocks since rotted away, he opened the box and inside were the perfectly preserved seeds from the Baron.  Additionally there was a handwritten note:

“In the name of Adorateurs du poivre de la chaleur, Vive le poivre!”

-  Signed Baron Jean-Vincent de St. Castin

It is the legacy of these seeds that make up our Castine Hot Sauce and we welcome you to the Adorateurs du poivre de la chaleur!