You be the judge: should my housemate use less spice in his cooking? | Life and style

The prosecution: Jason

My stomach just can’t handle this much chilli. Jamal even puts it in spaghetti bolognese!

My housemate Jamal and I take it in turns to cook each week, but when it’s his week he makes food that’s way too spicy for me. He says I should just “man up” and upgrade my palate, but it’s not that easy.

I’m from a British/Irish background and he has Jamaican and Nigerian heritage, so he grew up on a spicier diet. Whenever Jamal cooks, he does a spicy curry or really well-seasoned chicken, and my digestive system just can’t handle it. I love the flavours, but I nearly always pay for it the next day. After I ate his jerk chicken, which he made extra spicy, my stomach was in bits the next day.

Jamal says my food is unseasoned (which I disagree with), so that if I make him compromise when it’s his turn to cook, he will end up suffering twice, because he’ll have to eat boring food two weeks in a row.

I think he’s just joking about my cooking. I rate myself as a cook as highly as I rate him – I just don’t use as much spice. Jamal puts scotch bonnet chillies and cayenne pepper in everything – and it’s too much. The dishes I’m drawn to don’t naturally lend themselves to spice. I make a great lasagne, and brilliant chicken tikka curry. I do like Jamal’s beef suya, which is like a spiced kebab, and his pepper soup, but only when he makes them extra mild.

We’ve been cooking for each other for about six months. Jamal says I shouldn’t complain, because the original rule – whoever is cooking can make what they want – was my idea. We compromise a little because Jamal doesn’t eat pork, so I wouldn’t cook that for him, but the rule was introduced so we didn’t squabble about what to make.

I really like it that we cook for each other, because we’re busy boys. It’s nice coming home to dinner made for me every other week. He doesn’t have to take all the spices away but maybe he could lay off the chilli. He even puts it in spaghetti bolognese! If I’m prepared to leave out pork, he should tone down the spices.

The defence: Jamal

I grew up eating food with lots of flavour. Jason should learn to embrace world cuisines

When you ask someone to season their food less, you are asking them to leave out a part of who they are. Jason is asking me to give up my history and my heritage. He’s asking me to give away a piece of my soul. It is unnatural for me to eat unseasoned food. He’s used to eating food that’s only been seasoned with a dash of salt and pepper. But I’m not about that life.

I grew up eating curries and stews that have loads of flavour and chilli, so I naturally add that to my cooking. Jason is lucky he gets to sample world cuisines. I don’t make a lot of Nigerian dishes for him because I don’t think he could hack them, but he does like my suya, and the jollof I cook, as they are less spicy.

I also regularly make jerk chicken, and used to add lots of scotch bonnet to the marinade, but when I’m cooking for him, I feel pressure to tone it down, which I don’t really like. I enjoy food that has a bit of a kick to it, but when I make it the way I want it to taste, Jason complains. He says he can’t eat the dinners, and that he’s on the loo a lot the next day. Obviously I empathise and try to tone it down, but even when I think I have, he’ll still say the spices are too much. It’s got to the point where I need to have him besides me while I cook, testing the sauces as I’m making them.

Jason introduced this rule: whoever cooks doesn’t have to consult with the other person. But now he’s begging to know exactly how much pepper I’m adding to everything. That makes me laugh. I’m happy to compromise, but it has to work both ways. I don’t particularly want to eat a plain jacket potato or a bland chicken tikka masala curry when it’s his turn to be chef, but I do.

We should probably devise a menu together and then each week go off and cook it. But the main issue lies in the ingredients we use to cook the meals, and I don’t know if I can be bothered to test his food as he cooks, or have him test mine. I reckon Jason just needs to adjust his palate and enjoy the spice of life.

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Jason take the heat, or should Jamal get out of the kitchen?

There’s nothing worse than a bland supper, but putting chilli in spaghetti bolognese would start a war in Italy. And an upset stomach is no joke, so it’s probably best if they each cook their own dinner. Two saucepans could be an answer: start cooking in one pan, divide the dish and then add extra seasoning to the second pot. Voila!
Corinne, 77

I grew up eating spicy food; I get it. But Jason isn’t asking you to give up your heritage or your soul, Jamal. It’s not fair to hold someone hostage to a rule that clearly needs modifying.
Jag, 49

The term “man up” is a red flag – Jason seems prepared to compromise, whereas Jamal doesn’t. As a solution, I suggest that Jamal makes two meals: a spicy one for him and a less spicy one for Jason.
Alistair, 27

Jamal is expressing himself in the kitchen and Jason is being a wimp, and should try to acclimatise to Jamal’s superior palette. Open your mind and taste buds, Jason, you only live once.
Molly, 31

Jamal sounds like a bit of a tyrant, although Jason is also guilty – of being boring. I think these two should stop cooking for each other – that would be the easiest solution. Once the meals are denied to him, the aroma of Jamal’s saucepan might tempt Jason back.
Mo, 35

Now you be the judge

In our online poll, tell us: should Jamal take the heat out of the situation?

The poll closes at 10am GMT on Thursday 28 March

Last week’s result

We asked whether Tara should work during the day more and stop napping so much.

28% of you say Tara is guilty – she needs to wake up and smell the coffee

72% of you say Tara is not guilty – she can rest easy

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