In the Home Country, we use chillies the way the Greeks use lemon. It goes on everything. When someone's not feeling well, we tell them to put extra chilli in their food. The fruit stall at the market would prepare jugs of orange juice for us finished with a flourish of salt and pepper. Even fruit salad was served with chilli powder, and nothing tastes yummier than oranges and guavas dipped in salt and chilli powder. Even yoghurt, which is meant to accompany meals as a coolant for anything too spicy, usually glowed pink from chilli powder.
When I am having a bad time, I make the hottest food I can consume and eat it in a haze of sweat and pain, which always leads to a sense of euphoria when it's all over. When I'm ill with a cold, I do exactly the same until the fire of the chilli bombs its way through my blocked synuses. That's not to say I'm a champion chilli eater. I've met my match enough times, especially the scotch bonnet chilli which actually left me in crippling pain. I also couldn't face off with a chinese friend at university who used to make lunches consisting of boiled rice and fried green chillis in soy sauce.
There is a lot of goodness packed in chillis and since moving to a country where they are almost not consumed at all, I've come to love them in a whole new way. I adore them, I adore the two varieties I grow in my garden and how faithfully they deliver when I want to add a little kick to something. I adore the smell of them and how my mouth waters in anticipation when they're lying on the chopping board.
Chillis have been proven to create a sense of eurphoria, release endorphins, reduce pain, prevent stomach ulcers and are packed with Vitamin C.
My own personal belief is that a curry is like love and is supposed to hurt a little. But let's be honest, the physical effects of eating a chilli are quite suggestive. You skin flushes, your breath becomes shallow, pupils dilate, lips grow red, you sweat, you face tenses as your tongue fluctuates between the pain of the burn and the pleasure of it. And afterwards, a sense of bliss and heightened awareness of colours, scents and sounds.
Mmmmm chillies... the next best thing to an orgasm. So let me just say that serving nachos in the cinemas of Greece without the jalapeno peppers is like sex without the orgasm. It's an insult, and there's no point even going there if you're not going to do it right!!!
By the way, this post intends to serve as my Valentine's Day post. This Saturday, go downtown to the main vegetable market of Athens and buy a bag of chillies. Cook something with them for your lover. Don't be scared of the chillies. I use them intact but you can reduce some of the heat by taking out the seeds and white veins.
Just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly so that you don't end up feeling the burn where you don't want to later that night.