Yewande Komolafe for the NYT:
There is a saying in Yoruba, one of the languages spoken by the people of southwestern Nigeria, that translates as The soul that does not eat pepper is a dead soul.”
The saying refers not to just one single element, but to the variety of ingredients in Nigerian cuisine that add heat to a dish: the mild tingle and smoke of selim peppers, the sudden rush of alligator peppers, the sustained heat of a habanero. We don’t say a dish is spicy — we say it has pepper. Pepper is not meant to overburden your palate, but to stimulate it with an interplay of flavors, and to bring your mouth to life.