A Yoruba Woman’s Guide to Pepper

Stereotypes are boring, and often harmful and untrue. Remember Chimamanda’s speech about the danger of the single story? Yes, it’s pretty solid.

That doesn’t include Yoruba people and pepper, however. This one is 100% true, well...in my family anyway. I always imagine what the first Yoruba person who discovered pepper was thinking or must have thought. It must have felt like an iconic discovery, and it was.

This is one stereotype that I fully embrace with my chest and as a certified pepper-crazed Yoruba woman, this is a guide to enjoying pepper in your food.


Rule #1

Add pepper to every and anything you’re cooking and eating.

Making pancakes? Add pepper.

Smoothies? Puff puff? You better add a sprinkling of dried pepper. What is life without some spice?

[Ed Note: “Spice = Pepper” is a very Tobi thing]

Rule #2

This rule follows rule 1 closely. When you’re adding pepper to all your food and culinary experiments, add copious amounts. Seriously, what’s the point of adding pepper if the flavor will not overwhelm all the remaining flavors? Pepper should be all you can taste. And if you’re not leaking from all your facial orifices after eating, then you obviously didn’t do it right.

Rule #3

Sick? Down with malaria? Typhoid, or even migraines? Eat (or is it “drink”) pepper soup. Seriously, you’ll feel better.

Rule #4

When you go out to eat, regardless of the restaurant, fast food joint, ice-cream parlor or even party, carry dried pepper with you, so you can sprinkle it on whatever you order. Can’t have bland food on your spice-trained taste buds. Ever heard of akabanga? You can put that stuff in your carry on when you fly.

Rule #5

Never forget rule numbers 1-4. Rinse and repeat.


If you think all of this is jokes, then you obviously haven’t clocked or even worse, have forgotten the health benefits of pepper in food.

Let me remind you:

Nutritionists, who know what they’re doing, have told us that pepper contains nutrients that help improve metabolism, relieve joint pain, reduce acidity in the digestive tract (I know it sounds weird, but yes), reduce the risk of cancer, help in curing cases of flu and confuse your migraine.

Remember rule number 3? Yoruba people, like me, have that down pat.

Okay, I might have overdone it a bit with some of these rules because as we all know pepper is actually a great way to spice your food, but it doesn’t belong in everything, and definitely should be used sparsely -except in extreme cases like with pepper soup, then you can go all out.

It does not belong in pancakes, and definitely not smoothies.

I don’t mind it in puff puff though, I am Yoruba after all.