Its been two weeks or three even since I spotted pepperfruit, ‘shaded’ in small piles of green and red, set on the corner of a busy street on the Marina. The Lagos Marina.
I’m heading to a buka lunch with my besto, D who is visiting from Port Harcourt. I spot this ‘mama’, seated on a low stool in front of the most beautiful church in Lagos – The Cathedral Church of Christ with its grey and light and architecture from the 19th century.
Pepperfruit, one of my favourite ‘fruits’ ever for its scent and juice. I knew it was in season for my tongue possesses a seasonal calendar so that it yearns for fruits and vegetables. So much so that sometimes, I want to pack up and head back to Port Harcourt where I know the streets will spill the beans, show forth the truth of what’s growing on trees and forests and in gardens – large and backyard.
Somehow the ones I buy end up in the deep freezer and emerge frozen. And black.
All that does is change the colour and dampen the fragrance a touch. There’s still plenty recognisable here.
When I look at them closer, they remind me of grubs, these small pods do. The skin wraps its juicy self so tightly around the seeds, in rows.
A 4-cm pod might have up to 10 seeds, tightly stacked.
Once I was done unearthing seeds from pods, I set them out in the sun to dry, on homemade drying racks – I’ll teach you how in a post.
They dried in a couple of days, looking like half nut and half beans. Dehydrated, they still retain the fresh bite of flavour you get from the ‘fresh’ pods.
I want to grind them, mill them into fine powder and toss it with salt and sugar for a chili salt dip. Or sprinkle over mango sauce for roast chicken. Or make a dry rub for pork chops with apple sauce. Or add to Zobo instead of dried ginger.
In the interim, they’re chilling in a glass jar with me admiring and dreaming.
Recipes coming soon.