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Scotch bonnet (C. chinense)

Scotch bonnet (C. chinense) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you for following my series on the various types of peppersoup that are found around Nigeria. Contrary to what some people think, peppersoup involves more than putting curry, thyme and pepper into meat stock and hoping for a tasty outcome, and I sought to illustrate this on my YouTube channel, ‘Cooking with Joxy’.

The range of traditional spices used in the preparation of this soup varies greatly from one end of the country to the other, but one of the base ingredients, especially in Western Nigeria, is the scotch bonnet pepper, known locally as ata rodo.

Whilst scotch bonnet peppers are rated as one of the hotter ones on the Scoville Scale, their heat tends to vary from pepper to pepper, some being milder than others. In my video, I advised viewers who were not used to handling ata rodo to wear gloves if required whilst cutting them as they tend to stay on the fingers for a while even after the hands are washed, and this can result in extreme discomfort and irritation if said fingers are inadvertently introduced to certain body parts. I also advised that the peppers be deseeded before use, as a lot of the heat is actually in the seeds.

I gave an anecdote of how once, whilst shopping in Peckham, I was encouraged by a seller to nibble at the tip of a pepper to test its heat. Seeing other shoppers doing the same, I was emboldened enough to try,and my tingling tongue assured me that the peppers I’d selected were indeed very hot.

I only mentioned this in passing, I never for one moment imagined that any of my viewers who had not previously been exposed to this pepper would try to follow suit. You can therefore imagine my consternation when I received your letter this morning, along with the enclosed newspaper clipping. It was with great shock I read that whilst buying the ingredients to make peppersoup, you decided to toss a whole ata rodo into your mouth to test its heat. I understand that the seller tried to warn you against biting down on it, but he was too late. I am not surprised that you choked, and immediately passed out upon swallowing. It is indeed fortuitous that a passing ambulance crew were able to administer first aid at the scene, before conveying you to the nearest hospital. 

I am glad you are fully recovered, and advise you to stick to the tinned soups in future. These can always be livened up with drop or two of hot sauce should you desire. I appreciate your interest in Nigerian cuisine, but given your  history, perhaps you might be better off buying pre-cooked meals? These are now widely available in all the major supermarkets.

Thank you again for watching  ‘Cooking with Joxy’.