Why do the Yorubas eat a lot of pepper?

Everyone, yes everyone in Nigeria can tell of Yorubas' undying love for pepper. We will talk about oil another day. This undeniable love of pepper is backed by a few beliefs. You can even merge Yoruba and pepper to get Yorubapepper; I mean, they're inseparable like that.

If you've never eaten from a Yoruba person, you probably will not be able to make sense of what I'm saying. I hear someone saying, "Who wants to go near their food sef when I don't want to die of pepper". But why do Yorubas like pepper a lot?

One of the reasons that can be attributed to their love for pepper is their farming occupation from way back. Farming was the major occupation of the Yorubas and pepper happened to be one of their produce. The Yoruba saying, "What you sell is what you eat" is evident in the manner with which they consumed pepper. Pepper, alongside other farm produce like maize, plantain, beans, yam and vegetables were at their disposal. It is the reason you'll find foods like pounded yam, porridge, moimoi and others with the Yoruba people. They are used to eating lots of Pepper (one of their produce) in these foods.

I once asked my mum why we eat so much pepper and her response is no deviation from what I've heard. The Yorubas believe that eating a lot of pepper in your food will increase your life span since pepper improves the quality of life. You may have heard the saying, "a soul that does not eat pepper is a feeble one." What they're saying is the more pepper you eat, the healthier you will become and thus, the longer you will live. They believe that pepper helps to boost the immune system. Actually, certain peppers have loads of vitamin C in them.

A research by the US Public Library of Science helped discovered that eating red hot chili pepper on a regular basis could extend one’s life by as much as ten and a half years. It did state that, "those who eat chili pepper had a lower risk of dying than those who didn’t." So slow down when next you want to roast us for loving pepper so dearly; looks like we know what we're doing after all.

Yorubas also believe that consuming pepper in stew or soup especially when ill can help quicken the recovery process. I for one have heard older people say it aids blood flow in the body. It is the reason a sick person is often presented with pepper soup, they say it will help shake off cold or fever. Pepper containing foods like pepper soup is also said to help restore loss of appetite, this is why it's recommended for anyone who has lost appetite due to an illness. This particular one works, I can't say why or how but it does.

There are stories about the addition of pepper in foods serving as a way of instilling proper table manners. Foods get so hot that you can't afford to talk while eating because if you choke on peppery food... Anyone who has experienced this can better describe the feeling. So to avoid this, you're forced to shush at meal times. What a way to teach table manners!

Look, Yorubas love pepper, they always have and it doesn't look like they're going to let their guards down ever! Please leave us with our pepper eating habit, we like it like that. Don't interfere when we're making our pepper orders at the market, don't say, "Is that pepper not too much like this?” don't, else we'll pour pepper in your food. If you spot our shopping list with 8 out of 10 items being various kinds of pepper, don't make a face, it is because of pepper we're living.

This entire "mouth making" of mine, you'll think I eat as much pepper as the real pepper-eating MVPs. I used to, but not anymore. When pepper wanted to shut my eyes was when I decided to take the back seat. You know, like in a football game, there are players on the bench; that's not to say they are not in the game.

Tell me, are you Yoruba? How much pepper can you take? If you're not Yoruba but love pepper, share with me too, I love to hear your stories.

Why do the Yorubas eat a lot of pepper? Why do the Yorubas eat a lot of pepper? Reviewed by Remi on 15:41 Rating: 5


  1. Beautiful content! Quite correct and i smiled all through reading due to the humour. Can we have a "like" button please ?

    1. Thank you so much! I'll work on the like botton.
      thanks again.


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