Spicy is not the same thing as Pepperish

Colorful Spices at a market in Istanbul, Turkey

Colorful Spices in Istanbul, Turkey

Growing up in Nigeria, it was common to hear food that had pepper in it described as being “pepperish.” So, I am used to that word: pepperish.  But, I do believe the correct word is peppery.  Today, however, I don’t particularly care about the difference between pepperish or peppery (should I care?).  My gripe is with the use of the word “spicy.”

It was when I moved to the US that I heard the word “spicy” used more often than pepperish.  Over here, spicy usually means one of two things:

  1. Food that has spices in it (think paprika, thyme, curry powder), or
  2. Food that has pepper in it, and is therefore ‘hot’ or like I prefer to call it, ‘pepperish.’

More often, I hear people use spicy in the 2nd context, which if you really think about it, makes no sense.

To me, it makes sense to refer to curries like Indian curries and Thai curries as spicy because many of them call for a combination of spices.  In addition to being spicy, some of them are also pepperish.  So, you can have dishes that are both spicy and pepperish.

Anyway, I can rant all day.  But if you go to a regular American restaurant, just know that spicy means it has pepper in it.  End of story.

As for me as long as my meal is either spicy or pepperish, I’m a happy camper. My mantra is the hotter the better.  Yes, I am biased in favor of pepper. :-)

What about you? Do you like spicy/pepperish food? Do you care about the difference between the two? Let’s hear it.

Picture Credit: Flickr


  1. Interesting and informative post! (:

    • Esperchee: I’m glad you found it so. :-)

  2. Spicy I love. Peppery or Pepperish I love more. All join O.

    • Temilade: Abi o! All join shay? With pepper or spice, life is good. :-)



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