Since the beginning of lockdown we have been having apéros with friends at 6pm on a Saturday evening via Messenger. It works really well. Not anywhere near as well as sitting in the village square, watching passers by as they call at the butcher, boulangerie and maison de la presse for their shopping on their way home, stopping maybe at one of the bars for a quick pression or glass of rosé. But better than nothing.
These sessions can go on a bit. After all, after a whole week of being confined to the house for seven more days and not being able to go anywhere or do anything much, we have a lot to talk about. In any case, when we wind up our chat all we want for dinner is something quick and easy to make that's on the plate in minutes. Pasta with sauce is ideal for that.
With my chilli problem, I carefully study the labels on all foods nowadays so checked this jar of tomato and red pepper sauce for it. None was listed but guess what? After two mouthfuls my tongue was tingling and the roof of my mouth was burning. Chilli, and lots of it. I stopped eating straight away but Nick continued and said that in fact the overriding flavour of the sauce was not tomato or red pepper, but chilli.
No chilli was mentioned in the ingredients but it did say "spices".
We sent an email to Napolina to enquire if we were right and chilli was present and they in turn requested photos of the jar. So we rescued it from the recycling bin and obliged. (We are not normally in the habit of bin diving or photographing empty jars, but they did ask.)
On receiving the photos this was their reply, worded carefully so as to make it clear they are not at fault and no claim can be brought:
"Please can we explain that the ingredients declaration on the label is correct. The chilli powder comes under the spices ingredients as chilli powder is not an recognised allergen, there is no legal requirement to list this separately.
We hope this information helps and is of assistance to you."
So there you have it. A company that is keen to comply with legal requirements but not concerned enough to label their products clearly so that customers can fully understand what they are buying. They are not alone in that, I would imagine. I welcome myself to the world of allergy sufferers.
Surely, chilli powder is just powdered dried chilli - in other words, chilli. Not in legal terms, apparently.