May 18, 2020


For a few years now I have become increasingly unable to eat chillies.  About ten years ago I developed an acid reflux and heartburn problem which was treated with medication called PPI's (proton pump inhibitors) which prevent the stomach producing the acid which leaks into the gullet and causes the pain, (usually in the middle of the night).  The treatment works really well and with a little thought I have been able to keep the condition under control.

Gradually I have been able to identify the foods that make the symptoms worse.  Above all I have a problem with chilli.  Which is rather awkward because nowadays you get chilli in everything.  Or so it seems.

For a few years now chilli has become the must have ingredient, either chopped fresh chilli, chilli paste or chilli flakes.  It's everywhere and for me that is a real pain, literally.  I now seem to have reached the point where I am allergic to chilli. 
It's not that I'm a wuss when it comes to a good curry.  I've had my fair share of decent and spicy curries in the past but sadly that ship has long since sailed.  If I accidentally consume a small amount of chilli in any shape or form my mouth furs up, tongue tingles and a couple of hours later there is intense chest pain.  The kind of debilitating pain that earlier this year caused me to go to A&E thinking surely I must be having a heart attack.  Several hours later I emerged from the hospital having had chest x-rays, multiple blood tests for absolutely everything, several ECG's and a reassurance that I was not going to die, it was just the old war wound playing up.

Chilli has become the ingredient that gets thrown into everything willy nilly.  It's in soups when you wouldn't expect it, pasta dishes, sausages, you name it, there's chilli in it.  Why?

Is it because it's fashionable and all the TV chefs use it with gay abandon?  Or is it because it's a good way to perk up otherwise bland and unpalatable processed food?  Ready meals are a real minefield.  I recently shared a pack of that ultra quick to boil pasta with Nick only to realise after two mouthfuls that the tortellini filling had chilli in it.  Yes, it was listed in the very small print on the back of the pack - but why was it there?  I swear we have had the very same pasta many times before for a quick snack lunch and they have changed the recipe.
It was also in the cauliflower and tomato gratin that came as a starter with a take away meal from the local pub.  You would not expect to find chilli in cauliflower cheese - would you?  Well, I wouldn't anyway.

Interestingly, it's less of a problem in France.  The French don't go for spicy food to the same extent as we Brits so there's less of it about.  Even when a French dish is advertised as "piquant" most of us would be hard pressed to find it spicy at all.  It's also obviously no problem with home cooking.  Nowadays we simply leave the chilli out of the recipe and rarely do we miss it.  We even make a very tasty non chilli version of chilli con carne.

Sadly I have now become not only a wuss where spicy food is concerned, but one of those people who has to study the ingredients on every pack of processed food in detail before I buy.  It no longer appears on the front of the pack as a significant flavour, they just put it in the food.  I also have to inform anyone who invites us round for a meal that I am allergic to chilli.  Restaurant meals are a nightmare.  When the server asks if we have any allergies the face goes completely blank when I say chilli and they usually have no idea if what I have ordered has any chilli in it.
It's a real pain and I shall be glad when the fashion for chilli with everything is replaced by something else.  Fresh herbs would be good.


  1. Oh my goodness that sounds rather scary (glad to hear you're otherwise in very good health though!)

    Although I have no allergies I completely sympathise with how difficult it is to find food in cafes/restaurants (or nice recipes) that don't contain chilli. It's in bloody everything! I've never liked hot spice and it's always felt like a "problem". I've started eating things with a small amount of chilli in the last year in the hope my mouth becomes more tolerant but still can't particularly say I enjoy it. If I want to add spices to food I much prefer paprika, mild curry powders or cumin.

    1. Jo, I have quite a few friends who also dislike chilli. No amount of trying it makes them like it any better but they have to put up with it if they want to eat out.

  2. Hello Jean, allergies are such mysterious things. Do you think your allergy to chillis extends to red and green bell peppers too, the mild kind? I've known people who were deathly allergic to all capiscums. There must be some chemical compound in chilli peppers that makes the hot, I guess.

    1. Ken, bell peppers seem to be no problem at all, it's just chillies in any form.