TASTE

THE STOMACH IS A RELIABLE GUIDE: IT’S STILL THE WAY TO THE HEART, EVEN IN INDIA’S FURNACE – AS LONG AS YOU DON’T MESS
WITH THE GHOST CHILLIES.


Shaking my head was the first mistake. In India it means yes, so the waiter at the little restaurant put the pod on my plate alongside the vegetable samosa. There it lay, as big as a thumb and rather strange looking. Not smooth and shiny like the little African piri-piris. Or the prik kee noos from Thailand that look like red and green mouse droppings – which is precisely what their name means. Neither was it cherry-shaped like a habanero. Although it was “veeery fresh mister!”, it was wrinkled like an old toad. It would have been better to try it carefully, gently touched it to my lips to see what effect that had. But it seemed that the waiter wanted to hear the cooking praised, and he stood there so full of expectation that I bit in to it. And because the chilli tasted interesting – a little like fresh grass – after a short pause I bit again. And then again because the chilli was actually only as hot as a red pepper. That was the second, unforgivable mistake.

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