Something that must not be missed or left out when you eat anything in Trinidad is pepper. And when we say ‘pepper’ in Trinidad we don’t mean black pepper. If we mean that, we say it like that. When we say ‘pepper’, we mean the hot stuff. The little wrinkly peppers that make the best hot sauce ever. And you know what kind of dish we use pepper with? Yes, that’s right. All of them!
Eating curry? Put pepper on it. Eating soup? Put pepper in it. Eating pelau? Put pepper on it. Eating bake chicken and macaroni pie? Put pepper on all of it. And it doesn’t stop with local food. Eating a Subway sandwich? Have them put pepper in it. Eating pizza? Put pepper on it. Put pepper on everything!
Of course, if you can’t handle it, you don’t use that much. And you won’t be looked down upon or anything if you don’t eat any pepper. Maybe you don’t like it, maybe your stomach can’t handle hot and spicy food, maybe you don’t feel like it at some point. It doesn’t matter. It’s okay. Nobody would judge you if you don’t want to put pepper in/on your food at one point or ever, but there still is a certain pride that I see when it comes to pepper – even for people who don’t like eating it themselves.
Maybe it’s because Trinidad is where the (unofficially) hottest pepper in the world comes from: Scorpion Pepper. It replaced another kind of pepper from India a little while ago and now the number one hottest pepper in the world is Trinidadian. Unfortunately, that result is not official, but in our hearts we all know it’s true.
I was told that the best pepper sauces you can buy are the ones made by Matouk’s. Another good brand (for any kind of spice, really, and even coffee) is Chief. Both of them are Trinidadian, so you’ll be supporting the local economy by buying them. There’s other sauces available from other places in the Caribbean, like Jamaica or Mexico. The one you see in the picture I don’t know personally, so I can’t tell you what it’s like but it’s also local.
As for the Scorpion Pepper itself, I must say I like it. I tried it when I visited Tobago because my friend Ravi, who hosted me there, loves hot pepper in general and got a home-made bottle of Scorpion Pepper Sauce for his birthday, just a short while before I arrived at his place. You can’t eat it just like that and you can’t eat a pepper sauce made with just this kind of pepper, it’s way too hot for that. But you can try the sauces that contain Scorpion and see if you like it.
Even if you try it just once and then never have any kind of pepper again, I believe it’s a good idea to give it a shot to widen your tastebuds’ horizon.
They say even Chuck Norris couldn’t handle the Scorpion!