In the early 1980s, Dayle and I worked in Côte d’Ivoire (sometimes called Ivory Coast). Part of our role was to visit translation projects and provide assistance of various kinds. On one occasion we visited the translators for the Dida language, including a wonderful Ivorian man named Gaston. His family regaled us with a meal fit for a king. There were three courses: monkey and rice, fish and plantain fufu, then rice and beef. We ate outside under the shade of palm trees. Fufu is a prized dish in Ghana too, where we now work, so we are fortunate to be eating it again these many years later. But only if someone else makes it, because it is a lot of work.
I like spicy dishes, but the Dida spice their food several notches above my comfort zone – at a level way above “hot” which might be called “three alarm, atomic fireball surprise”. I could eat, but slowly and with some difficulty. The fact that the food was delicious helped, but not quite enough. My nose was running and my eyes were watering. Gaston saw my predicament and gave me a knowing look. I told him that the food was delicious, but the pepper was making my nose run.
“Oh”, he said, “that is good. We Dida have a saying. If your nose doesn’t run, the food doesn’t have enough pepper!”
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