I grew up on a healthy dose of South African cooking, and with its Indian and Malaysian influences, it has given me an appreciation of spicy food.

Curries, peri-peri and other fine spicy meals are very popular in South Africa, and the heat is certainly not turned down for the SA version of these dishes.

One of the most popular fastfood chicken outlets in South Africa is Nando’s, which made their name with their peri-peri chicken which comes in Mild, Hot and Extra-hot versions. Personally, I enjoy the Mild, can handle the Hot, but have serious difficultly with their Extra-hot peri-peri.

Now let’s shift to the Netherlands.

Not quite so true

Cuisine in the Netherlands is also heavily influenced by eastern influences by way of Indonesia, which means that one would expect the Dutch to be quite at home with spicy food, but the exact opposite is true.

The curries and chilli-based dishes served up here have been severely toned down to suit the unadventurous Dutch palate.

As an example, for lunch today, I tried some sambal (a chilli-based condiment) which the bottle advertised as “Extremely Hot Chilli”, with several big warning labels on the bottle warning that this stuff should probably be deemed unfit for human consumption since it might cause spontanieous human combustion.

Did I suddenly start shooting flames out my mouth? No!

The spiciness of this apparently extremely hot sambal was actually less hot than a mild peri-peri chicken from Nando’s. It is seriously underwhelming in what it promises compared to what it delivers.

This, I have found, is comon right across the Dutch cooking spectrum.

Maybe I should try out a bottle of Bushman’s Chilli Co’s Hot az Hell sauce from South Africa on my adoptive countrymen….that stuff lives up to the label, and isn’t even their strongest stuff.