Hotting up.

The usual radio and television combo today with nothing really that unusual to report. The television interview was supposed to be Nirad Tewarie ( former host of my show and now COP candidate) but he couldn’t make it…dammit..I was hoping to  confuse the viewers. It ended up being an interview with Dr. Sharon Ann Gopaul McNichol a woman about whom I have mixed feelings. She is running on a COP platform for Port of Spain South which is a PNM stronghold. Frankly, I would say she has as much chance of winning as Vin Diesel at a hair expo. She has rather a high opinion of herself and more degrees than merits mention here but normally I avoid having her on the programme despite her assistant calling my assistant once a week for six months. She spoke about threats of kidnapping being made against her and, to be sure, one of their candidates for Laventille was beaten into a coma a few days ago, so it is not outside the realm of reason. She provided many Barbara Walters moments during the interview including, but not limited to, teary eyes and eye wiping, hand flailing and earnest pleas direct to her camera. All with minimal effort from me. Not sure how useful an interview it was but in terms of sheer emotional content it was pretty good.

Our radio programme consisted of Tony and I chatting and commenting on news clips we played back. Tony’s take on Minister of Education, Hazel Manning’s  plan to provide not simply a laptop, as promised by the COP, but also a cell phone to every schoolchild was just plain good radio. Working with Tony Maharaj on a daily basis has the great advantage that we need only glance at each other to know what to say next.

Back home now and I have just consumed a clam cocktail I smartly purchased ingredients for earlier today. The key ingredient to me is always deadly hot pepper. Perhaps the most beatific occurrence in the process of evolution is that we humans evolved at the same time as hot peppers. I cannot imagine life without them. I read the other day that doctors are now using capsaicin during some operations. They have discovered the pure extract of hot pepper can be more effective at relieving post-operative pain than any other treatment. This is, of course, yet another tick mark next to the wonderful nightshade family. Trinidad has many excellent pepper varieties so I am usually quite happy with one choice or another. I gather the Indians have laid claim to the hottest pepper in the world in the form of the Naga. I will reserve my opinion on that one but here we have our own pepper strongman – the Seven Pot or Seven Pod pepper- which can lay waste to any palate so bold as to flick a tongue against it. The measurement for such things is Scoville Units which measures the hotness of a pepper. Most North Americans and Europeans are intimidated by the jalapeno pepper ( 5,000 Scoville Units)  and treat it with respect but in the Caribbean we scoff at such peppers. Our normal pepper, the Congo Pepper ( or Scotch Bonnet) clocks in at about 400,000 Scoville Units. The Seven Pot and Scorpion varieties run the gamut from 800,000 to over 1 million Scoville Units. My palate is quite happy in the hotter range. Anything culinary that makes my heart literally race and my endorphins go crazy is okay by me.

I wonder at the Nordic peoples of the world who have no sense of the excitement that capsaicin can bring to the table. Can I help them see the error of their bland ways? Is there any way I can convince them that gravlax is great but if dill meets hot pepper it is a marriage made in heaven? Probably not. I get the feeling, though, that people in the Northern Hemisphere are slowly beginning to enjoy the joys of chemically induced heat. In North America an array of hot sauces are appearing in gourmet shops but it seems it is more for novelty value as the names simply play on the idea of pain and death rather than taste. Peppers add incredible taste to any dish and should be respected for that instead of being relegated to the amusement aisle. There is a reason billions of people in Asia, the Caribbean and parts of South America find comfort and magic in these little treasures. My favourite of the precious fruit available here is the bird pepper. These are the original, un-hybridized, natural peppers of this region. They are less than an inch long and absolutely full of flavour. They pop up naturally and anyone lucky enough to have a plant suddenly appear on their land is usually besieged with requests from their friends.Is there any better taste than a Trinidad green plum used like a pestle to grind bird pepper and salt together on a plate and then eaten – I think not. By the way, if you are ever faced with a selection of hot peppers, some perfect in their waxy beauty while others look wizened and suffering from insufficient watering, pick the ugly pepper.  Peppers become hotter when they suffer environmental stress so the smallest and least of the children, in this case, is likely the most potent.

To end all this I should mention the title of this entry. Though we have inherited British English here it has not evolved as it has in England. To say “hotting up” on air here would result in derision despite the fact it is frequently used on the BBC. “Heating up” is the norm here but I am praying that one day, when I am reading news, I can be the first to say “the election race is hotting up”.

Hoping my blazing $64 USD 256K connection can upload this file before tomorrow.



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