After consuming spicy meals twice-daily in Ethiopia, I began to pop my favorite Jalapeño peppers into my mouth, much like one might devour dill pickles on a hot, summer day. The intense spiciness of the East African peppers had peeled twelve layers of skin off my upper lip in just three months, so how much worse could the peppers of West Africa be? At least, that’s what I reasoned when accepting the kindly, African pastor’s challenge around our dinner table.
“You might want to re-consider,” his Swiss wife said. “Even the crushed version of those peppers is fiery hot.”
“It’ll be okay,” I said. “I’m used to eating spicy foods; I think I can handle it.”
Pastor Omar exploded in raucous guffawing. Startled, I dropped my fork, which poured fuel on his laughter. “You’ve never tasted the peppers from my country,” he said. “Most white men can’t eat them.”
“We’ll see tomorrow,” I said smiling, confidence rising up from deep within my being. I’d put myself on the line for my race and gender. I looked forward to his defeat.