I'm curious about the rules for black pepper. Specifically where to use and where not to use. I like pepper and use it a lot but sometimes if a dish calls for other spices such as paprika I don't know if it is a good idea to add black pepper or not. Anybody have stories of too much or inappropriate pepper usage?
I wouldn't hesitate to use black pepper and paprika in the same dish. Pepper has a distinct flavor not matched by real peppers (capsicum). Many dishes use several different peppers in the same dish to geta blend of different flavors.
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
Here is a rule for you. When possible, always use fresh ground black pepper instead of pre-ground. Pre-ground looses its flavor very quickly as the oils that give pepper its flavor disappear shortly after the peppercorns are ground.
I use fresh black pepper in/on everything. In fact, your 'proper' bechamel would call for white pepper. I don't like the flavor of white pepper and actually like to see the black pepper flakes in what I'm eating. Kind of like seeing the vanilla seeds in your ice cream.
The only time I use the pre ground pepper is when I'm BBQing. It takes forever to make a rub with fresh ground pepper using a hand operated peppermill.