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Pepper Ever wondered why Yorubas like spicy food?

One peculiar thing about Yorubas is their undying and clinging love for pepper which is attached to one or two beliefs that they have about this food.

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play (Adevarul financiar)

If you're a Nigerian living in Nigeria, then I guess it's no news that when it comes to Yoruba people and pepper, they are literally inseparable.

If you've ever visited a Yoruba person's house and eaten his/her food, then you're likely to know just how much they love spicy food.

The question is why do Yoruba's like pepper a lot?

To start with, one of the major occupations of the Yorubas is farming and pepper happens to be one of their several farm produce.

play Yoruba women selling pepper (Wikipedia)


With so much pepper around, it's only expected that they consume this farm produce alongside other things that they are known to cultivate, like yam, maize, beans, plantain, oil palm,  vegetables among others. This is why foods like pounded yam and efo riro (vegetable soup), Moi Moi (beans pudding), Asaro (yam porridge), Amala (yam flour) and efo and the likes are commonly eaten in the west as against rice and other foreign foods which they do not cultivate.

play Pounded yam and efo riro, Yoruba people's delicacy (Funke Koleosho)


Having been used to eating a lot of pepper, Yorubas believe that eating peppery or spicy food improves one's quality of life which is backed up by a Yoruba saying that "A soul that does not eat pepper is a powerless soul."  So, it means, the more pepper you eat, the stronger you become and the healthier your immune system.

Well recently, a research by the US Public Library of Science has disclosed that eating red hot chilli pepper regularly could extend one’s life by as much as 13%- or ten and a half years.

It states that "those that consume chilli pepper had a lower risk of dying than those who didn’t."

So, I guess the Yoruba saying, "A soul that does not eat pepper is a powerless soul" actually makes sense after all.

play Ata dindin (Annosue)


Speaking about health, Yorubas are also of the opinion that taking in stew (obe ata) increases the quantity of blood in the body. Often times when a person falls sick, a Yoruba man or woman will prescribe taking something peppery like pepper soup or any other peppery soup to hasten the healing process and increase blood flow in the system.

I personally don't know how this relates, but it does make sense to a Yoruba person. So, whether it is a myth or reality, it has always worked for them.

Speaking about myth, there are a whole lot of food myth and superstitions nearly all the tribes in Nigeria have at some point made to enforce certain discipline in their kids. For instance, don't eat a food that falls to the earth because the devil must have licked it, don't eat the buttocks of a chicken because you'll become talkative.

play Yorub people like eating together (Funny junk)


In a similar manner, Yoruba's clinging love for pepper started as a way to enforce dining etiquettes on people to keep them from talking while eating. This is because traditionally, Yorubas like eating together in a big bowl. So, to avoid people unconsciously spitting into the food, they stop them from talking by increasing the spice in the food.

Anyway, Yorubas have become so fond of eating peppery and spicy food that they haven't been able to let go.

When asked why they love pepper, some said, "Pepper is life", while some are of the opinion that 'when eating pepper, it gives you running nose and that is what they like about it', others are of the opinion that "a pepper-less food is cold" and can be "nauseating."

If you are a Yoruba person and you like peppery/spicy food, tell us why you like your food peppery.

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