The Answer Is…
Ever Wondered Where Nigerian Dishes Get Their ‘Spiciness’ From? Look no further, the answer is pepper. Pepper is to most Nigerians what cheese is to the french. My Dad even puts pepper in his sandwich, bread sandwich, I tell you. (was there ever a sandwich without bread?)
It is not until I left my country that I realized that what the Caucasian or Asian man considered as spicy was not what the typical Nigerian considered to be spicy.
Google says ‘spicy’ means flavored with or fragrant with spice and then lists ‘peppery’ as one of its synonyms. Dear whoever wrote that, come and eat peppery food in Nigeria and tell me if you still think they can be synonyms.
All most all Nigerian foods are spicy (maggi, knorr, curry, thyme, ginger, garlic all enter the pot, I put it in my omelette and indomie noodles) and most Nigerian foods can be peppery (flavored with a lot of pepper). SPICY AND PEPPERY ARE NOT THE SAME! Read their meanings again.
Peppery is also rightly defined as strongly flavored with pepper, that i agree with. But, which pepper exactly is peppery? Which pepper brings out that hot peppery sauciness?
What most Caucasians know as Pepper
What most Nigerians know as pepper
Chilli peppers such as habanero and scotch bonnet are what brings about the appeal, the hotness, the tingling (I now get GI problems from eating very peppery food) in Nigerian foods (other West African foods maybe, I really haven’t tasted them)
Anyway, what prodded me to write this article?
I saw peppers, this precious and vital Nigerian food component, precious pepper raining down from the 3rd floor of the neurology department at my university. Can you imagine? the plants are there and these people do not know what they are throwing away, how pained I was.
This article is written in loving memory of those peppers I saw on the floor,
An Ode to the Peppers
Although you may not live to your potential,
although others do not not know what you are,
just how precious you are
I know, yes I know
how I washed you,
how I blended you
and put you in my stew
I shall keep doing that to your brothers left behind
I hold you in high esteem
gone but never forgotten
Its been a long week, don’t laugh at my half baked attempt at writing an ode or this article/rant.
Regardless, if you didn’t know before I hope you now do, that spice and pepper are not synonyms, they may be on paper, but not with Nigerian foods. Yes yes, go ahead and argue that pepper can be a spice.
Okay, that’s it. am off.