Friends and Spicy Food


Social custom regarding spicy food


Saran Kaba grew up in Gabon. Her family is mostly from Gabon and Guinea, and strongly identify with Mandingo culture which is prevalent throughout the region. Saran immigrated to the United States in 2014, where she now lives and studies at the University of Southern California.

Original Script:

“We are not allowed to pass, like, directly pepper, to like somebody, because that means that you want to, like you will be in conflict. So like if you like a person, you don’t give pepper at first. You know, like, pepper, like something spicy, because it will lead to some sort of conflict or miscommunication.”

Informant’s Background Knowledge and Relationship with this Piece:

Saran doesn’t know where she learned this, or the reasoning behind it, only that it is a widespread custom not to give somebody any kind of very spicy food.

Thoughts About the Piece:

Very spicy food can be painful. Perhaps this custom arose from the concern that feeding people food that is more spicy than they can handle might upset them, and hurt the relationship. Spicy food also causes your nose to run and tongue to hurt, which might make it difficult for them to have a conversation or maintain a graceful countenance, which may cause awkward social situations.