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Local NPR Reporter Eats Guatemalan Insanity Pepper
November 10, 2011 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Marshall Terry, a reporter for WFAE in Charlotte, NC eats a pepper that is being submitted to Guiness as the world's hottest. Caution: there is hurling and hallucinating.
posted by zzazazz (155 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is exactly what happened to me when I tried a Habanero. Glad it wasn't on video.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:13 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can peppers actually cause hallucinations?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:13 AM on November 10, 2011


Can peppers actually cause hallucinations?

Extreme pain and distress certainly can.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:13 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ahh....painful......


But the dog is funny. Its like, "cool....human on the floor....I like...what's with all the cameras?"
posted by lampshade at 11:14 AM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I often wondered what exactly it is that Adam Richman's master's degree in drama from Yale added to his eating ridiculously spicy things and I am this much closer to figuring it out.
posted by griphus at 11:16 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would be nice to know what kind of pepper this is.... Guatemalan Insanity Pepper seems to be a Simpsons creation.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:16 AM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Love the other guy sitting at the table, completely calm. "Yes, I ate the pepper, too. Yes, my stomach is on fire. I am dying inside. It's OK, I wouldn't worry about it."
posted by phunniemee at 11:16 AM on November 10, 2011 [14 favorites]


If that's all the happens to a yankee after the world's hottest, I'm inspired to take the ghost chili slider challenge at my local establishment.
posted by cmoj at 11:17 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


My guess is a bhut jolokia.
There are better videos of idiots eating these things.
posted by bastionofsanity at 11:18 AM on November 10, 2011


He didn't mention perspiration at the sides of his nose. If a pepper doesn't make you perspire on the sides of your nose, its not a pepper worth having.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:19 AM on November 10, 2011


Previously on Metafilter

Related, from the Hot Sauce Blog: Cooking with pure capsaicin


I can feel no sympathy for people who insist on consuming these things when they've been warned.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:20 AM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I dont even like hot sauce packets from Taco Bell.

What the hell is the matter with you spicy food weirdos?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:20 AM on November 10, 2011 [18 favorites]


This seems like it was a bad idea.
posted by entropone at 11:21 AM on November 10, 2011


Uses
Bhut Jolokia is used as a spice as well as a remedy to summer heat, presumably by inducing perspiration in the consumer.[9] In northeastern India, the peppers are smeared on fences or incorporated in smoke bombs as a safety precaution to keep wild elephants at a distance.[30][31]

As a weapon
In 2009, scientists at India's Defence Research and Development Organisation announced plans to use the peppers in hand grenades, as a non lethal way to flush out terrorists from their hideouts and to control rioters. It will also be developed into pepper spray as a self defense product.[32][33]

R. B. Srivastava, the director of the Life Sciences Department at the New Delhi headquarters of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (who also led a defense research laboratory in Assam), said trials are also on to produce bhut jolokia-based aerosol sprays to be used by potential victims against attackers and for the police to control and disperse mobs.[34]
posted by KokuRyu at 11:21 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I try not to eat things that cause me physical pain.
Same reason I dont jab my tongue with the fork repeatedly.
It hurts.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:22 AM on November 10, 2011


Unless you have a really severe reaction to a pepper, the biggest issue is panic. because it really seems like you might have done something you shouldn't have. Like, this might actually damage you, and maybe your throat will close up and you'll choke, and maybe it will not get better, and maybe you're going mad.

The more peppers you eat, and the hotter they get, the less likely you are to have this reaction. After a while, it becomes a familiar sensation. It's always going to hurt, in a manner of speaking, but you don't panic about it, and some people get to liking the hurt.

I do. I make rum steeped with habanero and take sips of it every so often. Reminds me I'm still alive.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:22 AM on November 10, 2011 [20 favorites]


I dont even like hot sauce packets from Taco Bell.

What the hell is the matter with you spicy food weirdos?


Something I've meant to ask on Ask, but keep forgetting (so I'll be corny and ask it here):

Why do humans like really spicy or really garlicy food and are their any health benefits? Is there an evolutionary benefit to enjoying spicy food? Does the spicyness or intensity of food signal something about the relatively freshness or nutritional content? I suddenly started craving intensely spicy food, like fat squirts of hot sauce on my pizza spicy, am I going to die?
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:25 AM on November 10, 2011


We used to have raw habanero eating contests. I once was able to eat 3 and subsequently lost feeling in my arms and legs.

The best trick is to do nothing. No ice, no bread, no milk, no nothing. Just eat the pepper(s) and sit there. It may seem unbearable, but it will pass in fairly short notice.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:26 AM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]




Metafilter: subsequently lost feeling in my arms and legs.
posted by lalochezia at 11:28 AM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: it may seem unbearable, but it will pass in fairly short notice.
posted by lalochezia at 11:28 AM on November 10, 2011 [22 favorites]


Is there an evolutionary benefit to enjoying spicy food?

I'm going to guess that it's like Bill Cosby's old routine about the point of driving 200 miles per hour. "It burns the gunk out."
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:28 AM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another volunteer. I like extremely hot peppers. It's interesting to note their progress all the way through one's digestive tract.
posted by longsleeves at 11:29 AM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]



What the hell is the matter with you spicy food weirdos?

Why do humans like really spicy or really garlicy food and are their any health benefits?


Economist Tyler Cowen has covered this topic,
Mexicans acculturate their small children to spicy food gradually, by mixing increasing amounts of chilies into the meal. It takes a while before the kids enjoy it and at first they don’t like it. If this has never been done to you, you need to make the leap yourself, usually later in life. The whole point of spicy food is that at first it is painful, causing the release of endorphins to the brain. With time the pain goes away and you still get the endorphins, although you may seek out an increasingly strong dose to boost the endorphin response.
Not all Americans think this is a good deal. Older people are less likely to make this initial investment and endure the initial pain. The same is true for uneducated people (adjusting for ethnicity), who both are less likely to know it will end up being a source of pleasure and who on average have higher discount rates. What other predictions can be made? If you and your country are too obsessed with dairy you will be led away from spicy food, one way or the other. Milk usually counteracts the pleasing effects of chilies.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:29 AM on November 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


Why do humans like really spicy or really garlicy food and are their any health benefits? Is there an evolutionary benefit to enjoying spicy food? Does the spicyness or intensity of food signal something about the relatively freshness or nutritional content?

My assumption is that spicy food can help kill harmful bacteria and parasites in food; spice, after all, is used as a preservative.

Peppers are also high in anti-oxidants.

I like spicy food because it tastes more fun and interesting.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:30 AM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The whole point of spicy food is that at first it is painful, causing the release of endorphins to the brain. With time the pain goes away and you still get the endorphins, although you may seek out an increasingly strong dose to boost the endorphin response.

Yeah, I always feel great after eating a spicy meal.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:31 AM on November 10, 2011


This is exactly what happened to me when I tried a Habanero

I've met people that seem completely indifferent to the heat and pain. I don't understand it, but I've witnessed it first hand. An old friend of mine was eating peppers out of a bowl, and I asked her what they were. "Habaneros" she said offhandedly. (note: this was before the Bhut Jolokia Ghost peppers had made an appearance in common culture, so the habanero was still the big boy on the block.)

Noticing that she wasn't sweating, swearing, tearing up, or drinking prodigious amounts of milk, I doubted her, grabbed a pepper and ate it whole.

I was wrong, It was most certainly a habanero.

I might as well have been teargassed for my reaction. I gasped, choked, and leaked from every orifice on my face. She just smiled at me and kept eating her peppers.

From that point forward, I believed her about what she was eating, and I never doubted her abilities when it came to hot food again.
posted by quin at 11:33 AM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I once chopped some habaneros for my salsa. I put plastic bags on my hands, so I never touched the juice directly. THEN I washed my hands with soap and water. THE NEXT MORNING AFTER A SHOWER, I put my contacts in and: yow. The pain.

I switched back to jalapeños for salsa.
posted by DU at 11:35 AM on November 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


I like spicy food because it tastes more fun and interesting.

I like it because it makes my eyes sparkling blue.

And my poops satisfyingly urgent.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:36 AM on November 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


I switched back to jalapeños for salsa.

I'm fine with peppers, but for some reason I can't digest jalapeños - they must be more acidic than other peppers. They go down okay, but coming out the other is not pleasant at all.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:37 AM on November 10, 2011


CautionGood news everyone: there is hurling and hallucinating.
posted by davejay at 11:37 AM on November 10, 2011 [20 favorites]


I love hot food. (I'm eating some surprisingly hot serranos with my linguine w/ pesto right now.) I've got no beef with jackasses who do extreme eating, because i like watching people act stupid, but for me the only reason to eat hot chilies is that they taste good. The more often you eat them, the more heat you can tolerate, until you don't notice it. And then, you can just enjoy the flavor. By a cruel irony, habaneros are both the hottest and the most delicious. They have this exotic petroleum-floral flavor that totally kills me. And a level of heat that, increasingly, does not.
posted by Zerowensboring at 11:37 AM on November 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I always feel great after eating a spicy meal.

Not sure if sarcastic, if not, then me too. My experience matches with Cowen's, people who didn't grow up eating spicy food have a harder time dealing with it, and especially its after effects -- all the talk about suffering on the toilet from spicy food was a joke I didn't understand for years because I'd never experienced the connection personally. The worst time I ever had was eating a whole habanero on a dare; and while it was a miserable twenty minutes dealing with it, after that I felt fine.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:38 AM on November 10, 2011


My assumption is that spicy food can help kill harmful bacteria and parasites in food; spice, after all, is used as a preservative.

Peppers are also high in anti-oxidants.


Yep, it's also a very concentrated source of several vitamins, usually.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:38 AM on November 10, 2011


I would pay money to see him eat that pepper, then smoke salvia. Or vice versa.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:39 AM on November 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: coming out the other is not pleasant at all.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:40 AM on November 10, 2011


Ah, this reminds me of the good old days in college when our hands would burn from the spice of eating 5lbs of Louisiana crawfish so much that we would have to hold them out the window to catch the breeze on the drive home.
posted by Leezie at 11:40 AM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like spicy food. But I like the kind of heat that builds, and that still allows your taste buds to function. If all I can feel is heat, and I can't even taste what I'm eating - well, that's no fun. Spicy dishes where the peppers add to the flavor, rather than just bringing heat, are my favorite.
posted by rtha at 11:41 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Doesn't eating spicy food correlate with resistance to certain pathogens or bacteria, or something? Seems like I read that somewhere. I've also read that repairing the minor damage capsaicin causes to your mouth releases dopamine, or some feel-good neurotransmitter. And that spicy food sort of gooses your immune system. Don't know if any of this is true. However, I *did read it, possibly in a magazine.
posted by Zerowensboring at 11:41 AM on November 10, 2011


Frickin' love spicy foods. can't eat enough of them. Like Bunny Ultramod said, it makes me feel alive.

Yes it does give you a "jamming a fork in your tongue" impact, but in a good way.

I wish there was a ridiculously hot food challenge in Minneapolis, I'd be there every Saturday night :)
posted by zombieApoc at 11:44 AM on November 10, 2011


A few years ago, I visited a spice plantation in India on a guided tour. At one spot, where the peppers were growing, the tour guide offered to break a pepper* and touch it on the tongue of any willing participants. I volunteered. The guide donned gloves (that should have given me a hint about what was to come), broke a single tiny pepper in half, and just touched it on my tongue. It was like a bullet went through the spot. For three days after that, I couldn't get rid of that burning feeling.

(*) I can't recall the name of the pepper variety, but it was green, tiny, and grows in southern India (well, at least in spice plantations).
posted by vidur at 11:45 AM on November 10, 2011


Why do humans like really spicy or really garlicy food?

Why do some people like any food? Because it tastes good. I had super-spicy pad thai last night. It didn't hurt; it was delicious.

Some people like salmon. I don't. It wouldn't occur to me to ask why they like salmon. Obviously, it tastes good to them.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:45 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really enjoy spicy food, but not at the expense of flavor. I can handle a pretty intense amount of heat, but there's no reason to if the food doesn't taste good.

I roll my eyes at the type of person who feels like loading up the heat is a way to show how badass, or worldly, or whatever, that they are. And I am resentful of the Thai place around the corner that overspices everything no matter how you ask them to prepare it, because it makes their food inedible, and sometimes when the wind blows just right and I can smell the restaurant from my house, I'm just like "fuck you, Thai place, for not just being a place where I can get some damn soup on a cold day".
posted by padraigin at 11:46 AM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've always likened spicy food to hard alcohol. The spice/alcohol itself is actually unpleasant, but there are flavors in there that make it worth the struggle. And they both offer a pleasant buzz...
posted by grog at 11:47 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


For my next story, I will stab a fork in my eye and swim with piranhas.
posted by LordSludge at 11:48 AM on November 10, 2011


I wish there was a ridiculously hot food challenge in Minneapolis, I'd be there every Saturday night :)

The hottest meal at Ghandi Mahal is worth checking out, contest or no. It's the hottest food I have eaten here.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:48 AM on November 10, 2011


I'm one of those whitey mcwhite guys who sweat when eating the most slightly spicy thing.

Despite this, I've got a reasonable tolerance for the stuff. In fact I used to attend hot sauce tastings and can tell you about the differences in flavor between ultrahot sauces like Blair's After Death, Endorphin Rush, and Dave's Insanity.

But to this day, we go out to eat Korean food, the waitstaff will see me redder than a beet, liquids streaming from every duct available, but continuing to eat, and occasionally ask my Korean partner if I'm sick.
posted by ardgedee at 11:49 AM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wish there was a ridiculously hot food challenge in Minneapolis, I'd be there every Saturday night :)

Then maybe YOU would like the stupid Thai restaurant around the corner.
posted by padraigin at 11:51 AM on November 10, 2011


I'm more than a little surprised people wonder why someone would eat garlicy foods, let alone whether garlic has any health benefits. Let me put it in simple terms: garlic is fucking delicious and smells fantastic, and if you think otherwise you are objectively wrong and should seek help. Spicy? I can see why people might not like spicy. I love it, personally, but yeah it can kinda hurt sometimes and while I may find it tolerable or enjoyable I have no difficulty with the notion that others find that pain unpleasant. But garlic! Garlic belongs in everything. EVERYTHING. With the possible exception of dessert.
posted by Hoopo at 11:51 AM on November 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


padraigin: “And I am resentful of the Thai place around the corner that overspices everything no matter how you ask them to prepare it, because it makes their food inedible, and sometimes when the wind blows just right and I can smell the restaurant from my house, I'm just like ‘fuck you, Thai place, for not just being a place where I can get some damn soup on a cold day’.”

My experience with Thais is that they often don't even realize how hot things are, and tend to find American food so incredibly bland that it's hard to stomach it. My girlfriend's stepmother is Thai, and coming here to New Mexico was awesome for her because she found food here she could actually taste.

In general, I think what people don't realize about spicy food is that it's something you get used to. In my experience, there's very little food you're born liking or not liking. If you eat Thai food every day, you'll get to the point where you actually really like the high spiciness, I think.
posted by koeselitz at 11:51 AM on November 10, 2011


Yeah, I like spicy food and have at least a medium-high tolerance for it, but there's a point at which one goes from eating food to stunt-eating and that's just stupid.

"You know, it'd really hurt if you hit yourself in the face with this hammer."

"Really? Cool! Can I borrow that hammer for a second?"

*SMASHY SMASHY SMASHY*

"OMG MY FACE MY BEAUTFIUL FACE!"

Just.... no. Not on a dare. Not on a bet. No.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:52 AM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Weird, but this thread is making my mouth water AND I can't stand peppers of any sort, because I turn into a human water fountain and my hair literally gets soaked with sweat like I just stepped out of a shower.

But Wasabi....man I love wasabi. I love the feeling that gasoline fumes are inside my head and sinus cavities are someone just struck a match. Also it doesn't make me sweat the way peppers do...
posted by Skygazer at 11:52 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I like hot food as much as the next guy, but... wait.. no, I don't.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:52 AM on November 10, 2011


are and someone
posted by Skygazer at 11:53 AM on November 10, 2011


CautionGood news everyone: there is hurling and hallucinating.

Now apologize for not closing the Farnsworth tag and forcing everyone to read the rest of the thread that way.

posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:53 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Adam Richman's master's degree in drama from Yale added to his eating ridiculously spicy things

Read as Alan Rickman. That is all.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:54 AM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wasabi is great because it doesn't linger. I will eat enough of it in one bite to go completely deaf & blind for a few seconds, then *poof,* it's gone. I liken it to a short, intense carnival ride.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:54 AM on November 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


"I'm fine with peppers, but for some reason I can't digest jalapeños - they must be more acidic than other peppers. They go down okay, but coming out the other is not pleasant at all."

A lot of people are unaccustomed to thing that are pickled as strongly as pickled jalapeños and that might be one source of your discomfort, but different peppers also have different balances of capsaicinoids which are digested with varying levels of effectiveness. If it is still hot coming out that might be a capsaicinoid that you either can't or haven't yet developed an ability to digest.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:54 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why do humans like really spicy or really garlicy food?

I don't consider garlic a spice really, in terms of heat, it's just plain ole-delicious to me.

I've heard that if you rub a clove of garlic on the underside of your foot, in a couple of hours you will have garlic breath.
posted by Skygazer at 11:55 AM on November 10, 2011


Noticing that she wasn't sweating, swearing, tearing up, or drinking prodigious amounts of milk, I doubted her, grabbed a pepper and ate it whole.

I was wrong, It was most certainly a habanero.


Of course what she didn't tell you is that she strategically placed that habanero in a bowl of harmless green peppers.
posted by kmz at 11:55 AM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Marshall is obviously a lightweight. And I bet whatever he ate was not the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T. To see what this pepper does to seasoned pros (and laugh your ass off) check out the videos on this page. Also -- note that the toughest of them all is diminutive young lady flanked by two guys who can't handle the heat.
posted by VicNebulous at 11:56 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I roll my eyes at the type of person who feels like loading up the heat is a way to show how badass, or worldly, or whatever, that they are. And I am resentful of the Thai place around the corner that overspices everything no matter how you ask them to prepare it, because it makes their food inedible, and sometimes when the wind blows just right and I can smell the restaurant from my house, I'm just like "fuck you, Thai place, for not just being a place where I can get some damn soup on a cold day".

This made my eyes roll.
posted by longsleeves at 11:56 AM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Man I wish I had a Thai place by my house that would make even one dish suitably spicy.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


My experience with Thais is that they often don't even realize how hot things are, and tend to find American food so incredibly bland that it's hard to stomach it. My girlfriend's stepmother is Thai, and coming here to New Mexico was awesome for her because she found food here she could actually taste.

When I lived in San Francisco the Thai places would always take it easy on spice, and you'd sometimes have to badger them a little to kick it up, and there'd be a lot of "Are you sure? It's very hot. Are you SURE?"

This place claims to spice things on a scale of 1-5, with five being the hottest, but whatever you ask for, they seem to just spice it however they please. I think it's an attempt to seem authentic, not Midwestern. But it's not a very authentic Thai place so they have something to prove, I guess.
posted by padraigin at 11:58 AM on November 10, 2011


This is why we can't have spice things.
posted by tommasz at 11:58 AM on November 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


All I could think of as I watched this was "What an idiot." Hope he was okay eventually.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:05 PM on November 10, 2011


I don't consider garlic a spice really, in terms of heat, it's just plain ole-delicious to me.

Cooked garlic barely registers with me (other than for flavor) but raw garlic can pack a bit of a punch.

Of course I'm only a low to mid level spicy food eater. I started late in life (18+) and I don't really keep up with it.

BTW, if you can find it, shui zhu yu is pretty awesome. I had it in Beijing last time I was there. Even though the dish's name literally means "water boiled fish", when the fish is presented it's in a tub of oil with a ton of peppers. Greasy as hell but also gives a really nice burn.

Wasabi (like horseradish, etc) actually gives a different kind of burn. It's nose choking more than tongue-destroying. In Chinese that's known as a qiang1 kind of spicy, but not sure if there's a succinct term in English.
posted by kmz at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Senor Cardgage: What the hell is the matter with you spicy food weirdos?

Well, at least in my case, much of the reason I like hot food is because it isn't hot for me.

For whatever reason, I don't feel heat in my mouth, so most chilis and peppers simply don't bother me much. It takes an extraordinarily hot chili for me to feel it at all. Habanero sauces, which usually have warning signs on them, are just a little warm for me. And they taste delicious!

The immunity doesn't extend to my lips, and it's only partially active in my throat, so I do have to be a little careful, but it's nothing like it was when I was young. As a youth, chilis were hot for me like for everyone else, but something changed in my teenage years, and I was thereafter extremely resistant to capsaicin.

A downside, though: while I don't feel the heat, I also don't seem to get any particular endorphin high from eating them. I just love how they taste.
posted by Malor at 12:08 PM on November 10, 2011


Crest toothpaste is my ghost pepper.
My god, that stuff burns. However, I like my Thai food rather spicy. (And jalapeños murder my mouth.)
posted by heyho at 12:10 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Recently I've gotten to where I eat sriracha sauce like it was ketchup. It still seems spicy but eh. I may or may not move on to spicier things. It's not a dicksize contest.
posted by fleetmouse at 12:13 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Find your soulmate, Homer.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:14 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


>Yeah, I always feel great after eating a spicy meal.

Not sure if sarcastic, if not, then me too.


Nope, I was being serious!

Anyway, I recall eating at a ramen restaurant in Japan a few years ago that advertised the spiciness of their "spicy ramen" on a scale of 1 to 10. Spicy ramen #10 was actually called "Go to Hell Ramen", and featured kimchee, a thick layer of chili oil, and a liberal amount of friend 唐辛子, or togarashi - Capsicum annuum chili pepper, a relatively mild variety of pepper that is commonly used in cooking in northeast Asia, especially in Korean food (唐辛子 or "togarashi" literally means "Tang peppers" and I suppose they were introduced to 1300 years ago by the Koreans who brought continental culture to Japan).

Anyway, the dish, while technically edible, didn't taste all that create. The fried peppers added an unpleasant burnt-toast flavour to the noodles already covered in chili oil. I suppose it was spicy, but it wasn't all that spicy, but, then again, this is Japan we're talking about.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:15 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Recently I've gotten to where I eat sriracha sauce like it was ketchup. It still seems spicy but eh. I may or may not move on to spicier things.

The problem with 'rooster sauce' is that it is filled with salt, and is just not that good for your body.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:16 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


In college I ate at a coop. That meant a bunch of people got together, pooled their money, divided labor, and all ate big meals together (yes, it was a small liberal arts school).

Anyway, one night I was putting stuff away after dinner into the food storage room. It was dark. I noticed a small bag. "Oh awesome," I thought, "dried tomatoes. I love dried tomatoes." So I plucked one out of the bag and put it in my mouth. You can see where this is going.

I never found out what pepper it was because a couple of seconds after swallowing it I fled for the water fountain. My tear ducts were already going crazy. I spent about 20 minutes at the water fountain mostly just running water over my tongue. Only one person saw me and asked what was wrong. All I could say while pointing at my mouth was "Tomato...peppers...burning..."
posted by mcmile at 12:17 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mefi rule: No thread about hot peppers can go without a reference to Astro Zombie's comment about the apocalypse pepper.
posted by albrecht at 12:17 PM on November 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


I love hot peppers (last time I was at India Kitchen the host brought out some homemade ghost-pepper sauce for me after I'd eaten half of a balti at the highest spice level -- awesome!), but the capsaicin extract stuff is a different story. I went to a wing place a while back, and their hottest wings were like getting pepper-sprayed: swollen lips, teary eyes, burning fingers, the works. Worse yet, they didn't taste all that hot, and definitely didn't taste good. Real peppers (especially habanero) have flavor as well as heat, and they're not as hard on the soft tissues... though you'd do better not to rub your eyes or touch anything below your belt!
posted by vorfeed at 12:22 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


In fact I used to attend hot sauce tastings and can tell you about the differences in flavor between ultrahot sauces like Blair's After Death, Endorphin Rush, and Dave's Insanity.

Dave's Insanity Sauce was originally made to run drunks out of Dave's restaurant. It wasn't some experiment in gourmet sauce-making.

Hot just for hot's sake is stupid, IMO. The straight pepper hyper-tinctures are painful and useless.

But a good heavy-on-the-habaneros jerk is heaven. I grow a bunch of habaneros, jalapenos and piquins every year just to keep myself in jerk and salsa. But it's about the heat AND the flavor.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:25 PM on November 10, 2011


I recently had a tasting of Dave's Insanity with two friends. One is into spicy food, the other is into meditation. I am just an idiot.

We would taste a little bit, comment on how painful it was, meditate on the pain for a bit and then repeat with more sauce. We reached a very interesting conclusion: The pain is intense, but the feeling at the forefront is fear. Fear that you have done permanent damage, that this time you went too far, that the pain will never end. Then the pain goes away, the endorphins kick in, the sweat evaporates, and you are ready to try again.

Conquer the fear and you will conquer the pepper.

I would definitely hit myself hard with a hammer or stab my tongue with a fork is I had a guarantee that after 45 minutes I would be back to normal with no permanent damage at all. I would even jump of a building.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 12:25 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Last I heard, the Trinidad Scorpion had overtaken the Bhut Jolokia as the world's hottest.
posted by Decani at 12:26 PM on November 10, 2011


> This place claims to spice things on a scale of 1-5, with five being the hottest, but whatever you ask for, they seem to just spice it however they please. I think it's an attempt to seem authentic, not Midwestern. But it's not a very authentic Thai place so they have something to prove, I guess.

My favorite Thai restaurant in Detroit had two scales: Mild to very hot, and Thai mild to Thai hot.

I recommend not going any farther than Thai mild. Especially on your first visit.
posted by ardgedee at 12:27 PM on November 10, 2011


I don't consider myself an extreme heat eater by any means, but I have on occasion found a salsa that was too hot and which I could not turn away from anyway. Aside from the big boost of vitamins and antioxidants (and endorphins) you get from heat, peppers are also a great digestive, and help induce hunger. You'll also notice that hot countries (Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam) eat lots of spice in their foods. If you eat hot foods, you sweat, and the moisture on your skin wicks off and cools you down.
posted by Gilbert at 12:27 PM on November 10, 2011


My guess is a bhut jolokia.
There are better videos of idiots eating these things.


Eating is one thing. How about eating them and rubbing them in your eyes.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:28 PM on November 10, 2011


I said this last pepper eating post, but I am going to say it again. If you have to wear rubber gloves to touch it I am not putting it in my mouth.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:29 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


this is Japan we're talking about

Yeah "spicy" usually meant something different there to be sure. I remember eating at Coco's Curry in Osaka, they also had a 1-10 scale, and apparently they wouldn't let you go higher than 5 if you hadn't eaten there before. I lied and got the 7, thinking maybe it's true and it's really hot. It was hot, but not too bad. As you say, this is Japan we're talking about.

That said my Dad and I used to go for curry in Ottawa, but because my step-family doesn't really do spicy we used to have it at lunch. Slow cooked curries, early in the day, tend to have an edge on them that is lost once the ingredients have a chance to mingle. The dish I ordered arrived with what appeared to me to be green beans in the sauce. That was not what they were at all. I can vouch for peppers feeling 10 times as hot when you're not expecting the heat.
posted by Hoopo at 12:29 PM on November 10, 2011


Well, to be honest, my biggest problem with food that has lots of spice in it is how expensive it is these days. Ever since the Harkonnens took back control of Arrakis, spice costs as much at my local supermarket as it did at Whole Foods just a few years ago, for god's sake. And don't even get me started on spice in foods at restaurants – even though I know most restaurants get their food service shipments through the Spacing Guild, so the stuff costs them half as much as it does me, they figure it's okay to charge an arm and a leg just because you're "eating out" and so everybody expects it to cost more. Note to the pizza place around the corner from my house: spice is just like any other topping; please don't charge more for it than the cost of the whole pie. I mean, geez, I'm not trying to buy a home on Tupile here; I just want a little entheogenic clarity of vision with my pepperoni and pineapple pizza.

And, yeah, those annoying people who pile so much spice on their burritos that they go into spice agony just to prove they can take it or whatever are really annoying. Slow down there, wannabe Guild Navigators – It's not a contest.
posted by koeselitz at 12:30 PM on November 10, 2011 [22 favorites]


good heavy-on-the-habaneros jerk

That sounds really painful.
posted by kmz at 12:31 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Slow down there, wannabe Guild Navigators – It's not a contest.

Blue within blue or go home.
posted by kmz at 12:32 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


"It's not that bad" is something that you should never, ever say when you first eat something.

Save it for the end, when it's all over, because if you say it up front, it's going to come back to haunt you.
posted by madajb at 12:35 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you feel sorry for him now, just wait until he has to pass that stuff!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:35 PM on November 10, 2011


I need this pepper. Where can I get it?
posted by loriginedumonde at 12:39 PM on November 10, 2011


This only happens because sadomasochism isn't socially acceptable.
posted by Grimgrin at 12:43 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Slow down there, wannabe Guild Navigators

Can I steal this as a catchphrase or is it already stolen property? You might as well say yes since I'm going to anyway.....
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:52 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seated at his usual table, Keith ate poppadams and bombay duck while the staff fondly prepared his mutton vindaloo. "The napalm sauce, sir?" asked Rashid. Keith was resolved, in this as in all things. "Yeah. The napalm sauce." In the kitchen they were busy responding to Keith's imperial challenge: to make a curry so hot that he couldn't eat it. The meal arrived. Lively but silent faces stared through the serving-hatch. The first spoonful swiped a mustache of sweat on to Keith's upper lip, and drew excited murmurs from the kitchen. "Bit mild" said Keith when he could talk again.
...
Then his [different] meal arrived. Three additional waiters and two smocked cooks stood and watched, murmuring excitedly among themselves. The murmuring ceased, on the instant, as the first spoonful of sauce entered Keith's mouth, and then you could hear through the hatch an explosion of adolescent laughter--from the boys in hell's kitchen...He chewed, then stopped chewing, then chewed again, exploratively, like a puppy testing a hard chocolate. When, at last, he started to speak, there was so much smoke coming out of his mouth Nicola though for a moment that he must have quietly lit another cigarette. Keith asked Ackbar to correct him if he was wrong but didn't he ask for the hot one?
From London Fields.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:52 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


good heavy-on-the-habaneros jerk

Oh man I love me some Grace brand jerk sauce. Although the "hot" one is kinda nuts. It's the one I buy, but don't make the mistake of using a lot of it. Most spicy sauces I can test by tasting a teaspoon, but do not under any circumstance eat a spoonful of this stuff by itself. Use a teaspoon for the entire dish.
posted by Hoopo at 12:56 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would like to see the sequel—when this guy is on the toilet shitting it out and he gets the burning-anus feeling.

"The toilet paper... what kind is this? It's talking to me, I think."
posted by not_on_display at 1:05 PM on November 10, 2011


There's a particular kind of way to go about eating spicy things that not a lot of people seem to master. The people who go for the maximum spicy straight away, eating painful food between gallons of water is ones is one such way, and it's probably the least effective if you want to enjoy spicy foods.

When I went back to China a year ago, my group stopped at a restaurant in Hangzhou specializing in so-called "Sichuan Hot Pots". Basically they filled a giant wok with assorted veggies and meats, stir-fry it or douse it in water and set it on a burner on the table, and slather on a bunch of peppers. The attraction to this isn't the huge wok filled with a colorful jumble of food; really, it's about the spiciness.

So we dive into this dish and it absolutely kicks our asses. But we'd been walking all day, were hungry, and the location, five stories up and overlooking West Lake, is beautiful at night. Everybody's sweating like crazy, the lone AC/power inverter is blasting out condensation, and I start to notice a change in the way the food's beginning to taste.

There's something to the Sichuan pepper that makes its spiciness unique. Unlike the tien tsin pepper, it's aromatic, has a distinctive 'spice' quality to it that had me envisioning endless deserts.

I don't know how to really explain the feeling. It's as if your tongue is numb but you can still pick out the flavors. In fact, the flavors seemed stronger and though the tongue was 'ma', it was exquisite. The closest experience I've had to it was like drinking a cold glass of water after an hour and a half of yoga in the middle of summer. Except it was endless, this wok of food and this sensation; I felt like Paul Atreides experiencing melange for the first time, gaining just that hint of what food could be.

At the end, a nearly empty wok of discarded shrimp heads and uneaten peppers is left and we're full to bursting despite the fact that most of us don't eat spicy foods. I hate the Taco Bell packets that do nothing but make you regret using that last one, I hate getting more than three stars at ethnic restaurants, because it only takes away from the taste.

But the Sichuan Hot Pot is a meal predicated on spiciness, that's best enjoyed when you're at your limits and still pushing that edge. That's what spiciness should be, as a mechanism of flavor, not yet another game being played in light of social pecking orders.
posted by dubusadus at 1:06 PM on November 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


(By the way, I infused vodka with habañero peppers for a good 3 weeks. When I tried a tiny sip, I, a heat lover, raced for the gallon-o-milk.)
posted by not_on_display at 1:07 PM on November 10, 2011


Vomiting seems like it would make the experience 20x worse. It tastes hot enough going down. I can't imagine what it would feel like coming up.

By a cruel irony, habaneros are both the hottest and the most delicious. They have this exotic petroleum-floral flavor that totally kills me. And a level of heat that, increasingly, does not.

This is interesting. My tolerance for spiciness has actually gone down quite a bit in recent years. The moral? Use it or lose it!

Mexicans acculturate their small children to spicy food gradually, by mixing increasing amounts of chilies into the meal. It takes a while before the kids enjoy it and at first they don’t like it.

Americans (at least this one) do it this way too. My daughter's standard complaint when she doesn't like food (whether it's squash, brussel sprouts, chicken, or rice) is that it's "too spicy."

YET I PERSIST!
posted by mrgrimm at 1:17 PM on November 10, 2011


There's something to the Sichuan pepper that makes its spiciness unique.

The sichuan peppercorn has a different combination of capsaicinoids, and it is completely fucking rad.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:19 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sichuan peppercorns (hua jiao) have a tingling spiciness in my experience. Not too strong, usually. I've never really liked them though. They can impart an interesting flavor but biting into one is pretty ick for me. Same with ginger.
posted by kmz at 1:30 PM on November 10, 2011


I can appreciate, at a theoretical level, the spicy thing.

I actually have developed a fondness in the last few years for horseradish and wasabi, in fact, and really genuinely enjoy the occasional fast hard burn from a big wallop of that in the context of a meal; it has the effect of leaping off a bus stopped at a red light, punching me in the nose, and then hopping back on the bus as the light turns green, so that even as I am reeling from the blow it is already receding into the distance, gone within a minute with me only half-believing it was ever there. It's a short, fast ride, wasabi.

But capsaicin just ruins a meal for me. It shows up and it stays and, even in the very mild doses I'm likely to encounter it in when "no, I don't like spicy at all" gets misread as "sure, not too spicy, whatever" by a restauranteur or a friend, it just takes over my mouth. I'm stuck with the choice of plodding through a meal I can't enjoy or giving up immediately so I don't make myself even more uncomfortable.

I am sure there is a serious amount of acculturation involved in enjoying significantly spicy food, but I also wonder if there's some basic genetic predisposition involved, the way some folks can't smell post-asparagus urine odor or some folks think cilantro tastes strongly of soap and all because of some genetic marker. I'm not worried about disliking spicy as some matter of pride or whatever, I don't need to rationalize it away; it's just that the effect of this widely-appreciated kind of spiciness is nonetheless so profoundly frustrating in terms of the effect on eating pleasure it has for me that it's hard to believe that it's nothing but a bit of getting-used to that distinguishes my reaction to that of other people.

I make rum steeped with habanero and take sips of it every so often. Reminds me I'm still alive.

I do the same thing with scotch except without the steeping it with peppers thing. Reminds me that I'm still alive and can taste my scotch.
posted by cortex at 1:31 PM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


My favourite peppers (unsurprisingly) are the peruvian ají varieties, all of which are scalding to various degrees. Ají mirasol/amarillo is bright and fruity and just a bit smoky and gives a nice long-lasting burn. Ají rocoto looks a bit like a tomato and has flesh as thick as a bell pepper with black seeds; its texture is almost juicy, it tastes of berries and fruits, and it is searingly hot. And then ají limo which is finger-shaped and comes in various colours; the flesh is thin and the flavor is more just bright colors and rawness, but the burn is like neon lights…it's great in small quantities in ceviche.

Ironically, I've developed such a tolerance for spicy, that I often will eat something that tastes fine, but then causes my digestive system to be very, very angry with me about a day later. When I last visited Lima, Peru, I bought a long braid of ají limo, brought it back to the apartment, and ate slices of it for breakfast on bread with queso fresco and violet olives. It was delicious and I had removed all the seeds, but after 3 breakfasts like that I wasn't able to digest anything for a full day. Lesson learned.
posted by LMGM at 1:32 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I said this last pepper eating post, but I am going to say it again. If you have to wear rubber gloves to touch it I am not putting it in my mouth.

Heh, outside of extreme eating stuff people wear gloves to cut up the peppers to remove the seeds and veins. This drastically reduces the heat level.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:38 PM on November 10, 2011


I would like to see the sequel—when this guy is on the toilet shitting it out and he gets the burning-anus feeling.

When one is lucky, this passes on to the "unpleasantly numb anus" stage. I've had that a number of times after particularly potent Thai green curries.
posted by aught at 1:45 PM on November 10, 2011


Bunny Ultramod - I want to buy some of that rum. I'm not even joking here.

Or at least give me the recipe. Oh please, oh please...
posted by spinifex23 at 1:50 PM on November 10, 2011


or touch anything below your belt!

Oh, naughty vorfeed, you're missing out on all the fun!
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:57 PM on November 10, 2011


Vomiting seems like it would make the experience 20x worse.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh can you imagine it in your nose ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
posted by nathancaswell at 1:58 PM on November 10, 2011


Reminds me that I'm still alive and can taste my scotch.

This is where I confess that I don't get the appeal of scotch at all. I prefer scotch bonnet.
posted by Hoopo at 2:10 PM on November 10, 2011


What the hell is the matter with you spicy food weirdos?

I blame my mom. She could eat hot things like nobody's business.

When growing up in Wisconsin, I didn't really develop a taste for hot foods until I hit college. But then, I found it to be insatiable. It got to the point where I could eat foods cooked with Habaneros. It'd affect me, and I'd tear up, turn red, cry, etc. But I enjoyed it. I reeeeeeeeeeally enjoyed it. It's the combination of pain, the endorphin rush, thrill seeking, and the actual taste of the peppers that made it something that I sought out.

Lately though, I had a really nasty flareup of GERD, caused by a medicine I was taking. (Dexedrine, I stopped taking it). This meant that I had to eliminate all spicy foods from my diet, at least temporarily. So now I'm back at the point where Tabasco is 'spicy'. As a consequence, however, it's made bland foods taste good again, and I can re-enjoy heat when I want to without having to blow out my system to achieve it.

(But seriously. That habanero rum sounds good!)
posted by spinifex23 at 2:18 PM on November 10, 2011


This is close to one of my favorite things of late: watching people who know what they're doing eat the spiciest peppers in the world. This gentleman has no idea what he's doing, and this was not very pleasant to watch. For the record, I put sriracha, sambal or chopped up chili peppers in every meal I take.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 2:24 PM on November 10, 2011


I grew ghost peppers un my garden and ate part of one. Let me tell you. FUCKING HOT AS HELL!!

Seriously I love hot things but goddamn I had more stomach problems than most would care to hear about. My logic, I grew it, I should eat it. In the end, some went to waste, but the flavor is amazing in cooking and it milds down the heat.

All in all, bhat jolokia are amazingly hot. My friends enjoyed laughing at my stupidity.
posted by handbanana at 2:28 PM on November 10, 2011


We sell the dried ghost peppers/bhut jolokia at our store and can't keep them in stock they're so popular. Anecdotally, I'd guess that about 90% of those who purchase them do so as a gag gift (no pun intended) for acquaintances. That said, I find they have a really alluring, misleadingly fruity aroma with no real discernible heat (in the aroma). Once eaten, a much different, um, flavor profile takes over, but they do have a great flavor aside from their heat.
posted by webhund at 2:38 PM on November 10, 2011


My most intense chilli experience was with some kind of hot sauce in a Chinese restaurant. No puking or hallucinations but there was serious dizziness and tunnel vision. Good fun.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 2:43 PM on November 10, 2011


Spiciness is weird for me. I've often eaten foods that cause my nose to start running without feeling a thing. On the other hand, I have real trouble with wasabi and horseradish, as I found out to my disgrace in a date. I can put small amounts on my food, but had a horrible coughing fit after putting a large amount on my sandwich. It was a moderate amount for almost any hot sauce, but for wasabi, well, I have a great deal more sympathy for people with asthma now.

I've cooked with dried Bhut Jokolias. The smell is amazing, but the spiciness of half a bhut jokolia isn't all that much more than all of a fresh, red, habenero. (They're sold as "Jamaican spicy peppers" in the supermarket here.) They didn't make the sesame noodles any worse than some of my experiments with dropping said habenero in the blender with four teaspoons of cayenne. (I used 3 teaspoons with the jokolia)

The noodles ended up being amazing both times. My eyes were watering, my nose was running, my tongue had a wonderful burn going on it and the taste was heavenly. Of course, I did get a drop of water in my eye from my hands while washing themafter handling a habenero once. Interesting fact- the prospect of pouring milk directly into your eye is not disgusting when the alternative is the pain from an habenero.
posted by Hactar at 2:52 PM on November 10, 2011


I ate a habanero once (it was in a stew, and I didn't know what I was about to do). Plenty of pain, but no vomiting and no hallucinations. This was plainly something on a whole 'nother level.
posted by texorama at 3:09 PM on November 10, 2011


Hoopo: Garlic belongs in everything. EVERYTHING. With the possible exception of dessert.

And beer.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:36 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I dunno, seems worth trying.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:50 PM on November 10, 2011


KokuRyu: "The whole point of spicy food is that at first it is painful, causing the release of endorphins to the brain. With time the pain goes away and you still get the endorphins, although you may seek out an increasingly strong dose to boost the endorphin response.

Yeah, I always feel great after eating a spicy meal.
"

Nashville Hot Chicken. It's like eating sex.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:01 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I heard a woman on the radio recently talking about research she had done that there is a specific reaction we have to spicy food, a chemical released in the body or some such (sorry I can’t remember the details). You really do develop an immunity, and if you don’t eat spicy foods for a while you lose it. She said it lasts for weeks.

I eat Habaneros all the time, I agree that it’s a funny/cruel trick that they’re the tastiest and among the hottest. I really don’t need anything hotter though. Capsaicin extract, like in Dave’s Insanity and such, is just nasty tasting and no fun.

I do find it odd that people who don’t like spicy food want to insist that it’s some kind of pissing contest, sort of like people who don’t have tattoos criticize. I really don’t think about your eating habits at all when I’m eating peppers.

I was with some friends camping once, and roasting habaneros on the fire. The kids of course were fascinated. We told them they wouldn’t like it, but one little girl of about 10 kept insisting "I like spicy things, I eat them all the time". Finally we relented and gave her one, saying "just have a little taste". She popped the whole thing in her mouth, chewed it up and said "those are good". The other kids (who were too scared before) then insisted they wanted some. We gave them tiny pieces and reminded them that we warned them. Much crying and flailing ensued.
posted by bongo_x at 4:09 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You go right on ahead and try it, furiousxgeorge, and let me know what you think! Me, I absolutely love both, but can't simply fathom the two tastes together like that. To each their own, I guess.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:19 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


What the hell is the matter with you spicy food weirdos?

Senor Cardgage (and other capsaicin lightweights), it's mostly been answered above, but let me add one story.

I got a cold, or something like it, which became a sinus infection. My left eustachian tube blocked up, which isn't too unusual, and no big deal... except that it stayed blocked. For months.

While walking down the street, I could hear my left knee, with every step I took. For months.

Went to the doctor for it. He sent me to an auditory specialist, who told me my left-ear hearing was fine (was not!).

One day, I'm enjoying a spicy pasta dish with a pretty young thing, and while eating one of the peppers in it, my ear SUDDENLY pops open. NORMAL HEARING! If she had been a preacher, and holding my hand, I would have seriously considered converting from atheist to ____ism.

Instead, I seek out hot peppers when I have sinus infections.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:22 PM on November 10, 2011


A decade ago, I worked for a magazine that used to get lots of goodie packages from marketing folks. The editors would use these offerings for "food challenges"-- they would make bets like "$20 to eat that pound of fudge in five minutes" or "can you eat this jar of pickled carrots (and drink the vinegar) in 60 seconds". Yeah, it was awful.

The best (I mean "worst", really) food challenge was when the editors received a bottle of Dave's Insanity Sauce along with a note that their game was "hot" (creative, I know). Now, at the time, Dave's Insanity Sauce had the world record as the hottest hot sauce in the world. The team took up a collection and bet one of the editors $100 to drink a shot of it.

After drinking his shot, the guy immediately felt very sick to his stomach and decided to go lie down in his car in the parking lot. He promptly passed out.

Cut to four hours later when he can't move his right arm and is terrified that he's given himself a stroke. He told us later that all he could think of was how he was going to tell him wife that he paralyzed himself on a bet. He's literally begging God to let him move his arm.

That's when the pins and needles set in.

The dude had fallen asleep on his arm and mistook it for a serious bodily harm :)
posted by bpm140 at 4:30 PM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


and suddenly he was transported to PEPPERWORLD
posted by radiosilents at 4:35 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another story. I developed some sort of stomach flu, or something. Diarrhea was painful. For a few days, my appetite was near-nil. Then, suddenly, I decided I had to make spicy spagheti.

I dumped so much powdered chili pepper into the sauce... I dropped a lot. Heh, I dropped (capsaicin) acid. And hate half that huge skillet full on spaghetti. Satiated, I went to bed with a burning belly, but happy - endorphins, and no intestinal pain.

Needless to say, my next BM was not without burn... but my gut didn't hurt, just my sphincter. That was the end of that "flu" bout.

A few days later, much better, I found the leftover half of the spaghetti sauce. Decided to finish it, but when I tried it, it was too damn hot for me to eat - the same sauce I wolfed down a few days ago. Too damn hot. I cut it by half, and struggled to finish it, determined not to waste food.

--

Now, researchers have shown that wild field mice will eat ferns, a known vermicide, only when they are infested with worms. Normally, eating full-grown ferns causes stomachache - but somehow, when infected, that's something the mice don't mind.

Likewise, animals low in minerals seek out mineral salts - right down to butterflies sipping from much-evaporated rain puddles.

Apparently, as a pepper-eating person, my body learned that capsaicin could kill intestinal bugs (which is true). Once I got to a certain point in my illness (after the virus was gone? when the germs were already on the decline? once I had enough strength to handle it?), my body told me to EAT HOT GODDAMNED PEPPERS!!! It even turned off my pain receptors, mostly.

Once I was healthy again, my body said (and I quote), "WHAT IN HELL ARE YOU EATING?!!! STOP THAT!"
posted by IAmBroom at 4:38 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I CAN SEE THROUGH TIME
posted by Ratio at 4:43 PM on November 10, 2011


This is exactly what happened to me when I tried a Habanero.

I drank habanero infused tequila once. No hallucinations of any kind ensued.
posted by jonmc at 5:23 PM on November 10, 2011


Soak 2 or 3 habeneros 0r 4 to 5 chipotle peppers in a fith of good blanco tequila. Let it sit for about 5 days and pull the peppers out. Splash on top of a margarita. I like to mix it half & half with lemoncello over an ice cube. The fiery Hispanic mated with deadly sweet Latin.
posted by Pecantree at 5:38 PM on November 10, 2011


I heard this on the radio this morning and meant to look it up after coming home. Funny to see it on the blue. Here's a bit more about the pepper grown in Rock Hill, SC, by a man obsessed with growing the hot ones as he believes that capsaicin may have a role in a cure for cancer. The guy's company is aptly called Pucker Butt Pepper Company.
posted by pappy at 6:13 PM on November 10, 2011


I said this last pepper eating post, but I am going to say it again. If you have to wear rubber gloves to touch it I am not putting it in my mouth.

I do that even just to make jalapeño poppers, which end up not that hot. It doesn't take much working into my dry skin to cause pretty terrible pain.

I've also found that combining the flavor profile of various peppers is great for making awesome chili. One of the benefits of free trade and a big city: numerous pepper cultivars to combine.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:40 PM on November 10, 2011


We had habanero aquavit at a meetup. I totally snuck some into Potomac Avenue's drink and he called me a bastard.

And completely agree on using multiple types of peppers in chili. My latest batch had 6 or 7, I think, some fresh from the garden, some dried (also from the garden), and an assortment from the Latino grocery. I am definitely one who has a limited tolerance, but an enthusiastic enjoyment, of the burn.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:16 PM on November 10, 2011


I make rum steeped with habanero and take sips of it every so often. Reminds me I'm still alive.

Heh. A couple weeks ago, I took my 15 year-old to Chicago, and we had dinner at Frontera Grill. I had an Apple-Habanero Margarita, and thought it was great, so I decided to infuse my own Tequila with apples and habanero when we got home.

I left the habanero in too long. Even the 19 year-old, who is a champion pepper fiend, complained that it was going to set his hair on fire. Even so, it is damned tasty.
posted by MissySedai at 7:52 PM on November 10, 2011


My husband grows crazy peppers, including the fatalii pepper (third one down). I'm not much for super-spicy food, so he's left to cook them for himself.

One day I pull into the driveway and he's standing on the driveway, eyes STREAMING tears, holding a plate and a fork.

"OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED?" I shouted in horrified concern.

"Omelet -- peppers -- " he gasped.

I dashed inside, thinking the kitchen was on fire or something.

IT WAS LIKE BEING PEPPER SPRAYED IN THE FACE. I came into the living room, a good 20 feet away from the kitchen, 30 or more from the stove, and it was like a WALL of hot pepper RIGHT IN MY EYES. I immediately started streaming tears, my nose started running, I started coughing prodigiously, all my mucus membranes burned, and I blindly backed back out the door.

"What. The. Hell," I demanded.

As it turned out, my husband sauteed some fatalii peppers to make himself an omelet and basically managed to WEAPONIZE hot-peppers-in-a-frying-pan. I made him dash back in and turn on the kitchen exhaust fan, but it was an HOUR before we could go inside. An hour spent sitting on the steps to the house while I asked him, over and over, was it really the best omelet he'd ever eaten in his life? Because I'd just been PEPPER SPRAYED BY MY HOUSE and then left to sit on the front steps for an hour, so it had BETTER be the best omelet he'd ever eaten in his life ...
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:43 PM on November 10, 2011 [51 favorites]


Sichuan peppers are mental. There's the numbing effect on your mouth and then it just builds from there.
New guy at work arrived this month, had hot pot and then had to take the next day off with an upset stomach. It's something you have to build up a tolerance for.
posted by arcticseal at 10:56 PM on November 10, 2011


Eyebrows McGee's story reminds me of the Thai restaurant in Soho (London) which was cooking up a batch of spicy dip (based on burnt chillis) and inadvertently sparked a full scale terrorism alert after the fumes that escaped their kitchen were mistaken for a chemical attack.
posted by urban greeting at 11:46 PM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I do find it odd that people who don’t like spicy food want to insist that it’s some kind of pissing contest, sort of like people who don’t have tattoos criticize.

I don't know, would people have this much to say about how much they like sweetness and all the different kinds of sugar? I think not, because really, really liking the taste of sweet things is thought of as ordinary at best and contemptible at worst, whereas in certain cultures, I gather that eating and liking spicy food is an accomplishment that sets you apart from those who can't handle the heat and even gains you acceptance from ethnic minorities at their restaurants. As someone for whom pepper is a normal part of ethnic and (to a lesser extent) national culture, the way Americans talk about spicy food is striking to me, and definitely often sounds like bragging. If that's truly the case, it's not like it's something to be ashamed of, but it might bear some examination.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:49 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's kind of a false comparison, though; we're all literally born craving sugar, and there's no effort or deliberateness involved in developing a taste for it. I suspect that there is a hint of bragging involved with hot pepper aficionados, but at the same time there's a very real sense of just sheer enthusiasm and excitement, much like you'd see with fans of roller coasters. It's just the excitement that comes with finding a way to trick your lizard brain into thinking that you're in danger while you know on some conscious level that you're totally safe.
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:47 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rough, but then there's this genius who thought it would be a good idea to snort a key bump of dried bhut jolokia powder. I wouldn't be surprised if he died shortly afterwards.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:00 AM on November 11, 2011


My Favorite quote I am sure I got from a previous MeFi post on hot peppers is "There is no wisdom in this pepper"
posted by mrgroweler at 8:07 AM on November 11, 2011


As someone for whom pepper is a normal part of ethnic and (to a lesser extent) national culture, the way Americans talk about spicy food is striking to me, and definitely often sounds like bragging.

Lately American food culture* seems to be based on the model of an arms race. Spiciness gains favor in the culture and pretty soon companies are experimenting to see who can put the most face-meltingly spicy sauce on the shelves. Craft brewers sprout up in defiance of the national taste for Budweiser and pretty soon breweries are competing to see who can make their beer so hoppy as to be undrinkable. We often don't care about these diminishing returns because the actual taste of the food gets lost in the race to have the hottest, the bitterest, the grossest, the realest thing on the block.

It reminds me of me in eighth grade when I read A Clockwork Orange; pretty soon, no matter what the subject was in class, I could find a way to relate it to A Clockwork Orange. My teachers were incredibly patient with my inanities because I wasn't bringing anything valuable to the discussion, I only wanted everyone to know I'd read the book. I mostly grew out of that though, so there's hope.


*At first I was going to write something like "a strand of American food culture," because I didn't think what I was saying could be applied to where I live, the Bay Area; but this place is just as bad or worse at gastronomic one-upmanship, only here the taunts aren't about who can handle the hottest sauce but whose produce is more local, who's gets the hookup at Monterey Market, and so on. Sigh.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:27 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, DoctorFedora, part of my point is that for an enormous number of people around the world there isn't any effort or deliberateness involved in learning to appreciate spicy food, because it's just something they started eating, without ever thinking about it, the day their mothers first put it in their little mouths, without ever thinking about that. I chose sugar up there because I sort of think of it as the mirror image of the pepper situation (as in there are lots of people around now who seem proud of the extent to which they have learned not to enjoy it), but really, you can substitute any taste, flavour or sensation that isn't exotic to Americans. Spiciness is just another experience for your mouth, with nothing inherently in it to be proud about enjoying. In any case, if you also think there is some bragging involved, then I think we basically agree.

Full disclosure though, a major reason the attitude I'm talking about annoys me is that I don't particularly like pepper and I sort of roll my eyes at the idea that I'm refusing to embark on some grand gastronomic adventure by not bothering to cultivate more of an appreciation for this one thing. My tastes make me an outlier as a Trinidadian, though. The fact that I cannot even tolerate a few bird peppers chopped up in my mango chow makes me strange to lots of people where I'm from, and a downright laughingstock at times to my mother and sisters (though that may have had more to do with the wheezing). And so our experience of spiciness, as a nation, is different enough that it really struck me today in this thread. I mean, it definitely pleases some people to think that our food might be just. too. much. for visitors (I roll my eyes at that too), but as far as feeling all accomplished for handling x many scoville units, I don't believe we do. Scotch bonnet peppers are all over at home; no one talks about them the way I see us talking about habaneros here, and they are about as hot. Actually, it's only because of discussions like this that I'm starting to believe Trinidad might actually be one of those spicy food places after all. (But... surely not.) I mean, when I heard that the hottest pepper in the world had "Trinidad" in its name, I assumed they must mean some other, completely different Trinidad.

Anyway, my point is, and what I just wrote may or may not have anything to do with this, that I agree with people who think there's something going on in American food culture that's in the people, not the pepper. I would never object to anyone broadening their horizons, but the idea that eating increasingly spicy food is some kind of life pursuit is just a little weird. I don't mean that in a bad way, but yeah.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:36 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't be surprised if he died shortly afterwards.

Yeah, that's a special brand of stupid right there.
posted by quin at 9:43 AM on November 11, 2011


A couple of friends came to our Halloween bash decked out as Papa Ghede and Maman Brigitte, replete with cigars and pepper-soaked rum. We, as well as my pepper-junkie roommate, spent an inordinate amount of time drinking from the bottle and then rooking in hapless bystanders to take a shot as well, looking like the most fevered and ghoulish drinking buddies in some bizarre afterlife speakeasy. What they made was real easy too - get a bottle o' decent rum, drain off a li'l bit to make room, and add whole habeneros to fill. Then let steep for a while - I think they had theirs in the cabinet for a few weeks at least. It is a delicious shooter - the rum tastes slightly smokier, and the hotness has a tone which I could only describe as clarion - clear, loud and brassy.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:18 AM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


>I don't know, would people have this much to say about how much they like sweetness and all the different kinds of sugar?<

- two or three cars parked under the stars-
I think you’re taking it the wrong way. It’s not like sugar, it’s like cigars, coffee, wine, etc. Things that people develop a taste for and are enthusiastic about. I understand feeling left out, but it’s not about you. I’m not judging you or anyone else when I eat or talk about spicy foods, and I don’t look at it as a "life pursuit", more like "a thing I enjoy".

I’ve heard the same reactions from people about cigars, coffee, wine, and other things (tattoos). Maybe it makes more sense in that context. Do you laugh at non coffee drinkers and think about how much cooler you are than them when you discuss your favorite coffee house? Do you go around drinking coffee all the time so people who don’t like coffee will be impressed?

We laugh and have funny attitudes about these kinds of things because we know on one level it’s really silly and unnecessary. Eating things that burn doesn’t make a lot of sense. Having a scowling person point that out to you like you’ve never thought of it is funny, like when kids tell you things they’ve discovered about the world.

I find the whole "you think you’re better than me" thing to be really tiresome. Odds are no one is really thinking about you that much.
posted by bongo_x at 11:04 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Scotch bonnet peppers are all over at home; no one talks about them the way I see us talking about habaneros here, and they are about as hot.

Oh believe me. Back in the pre-ghost chili days. Scotch Bonnet vs. Habanero was a debate as fierce as to Sega vs. Nintendo, Bonham vs. Moon, or Ian Gillian vs. Ted Neeley.

It’s not like sugar, it’s like cigars, coffee, wine, etc.

Exactly. It's a lot like wine or weed or whatever luxury gourmet item you enjoy. It requires some training to be able to appreciate some of the positive aspects.

Rough, but then there's this genius who thought it would be a good idea to snort a key bump of dried bhut jolokia powder. I wouldn't be surprised if he died shortly afterwards.

Died? Really? What's the LD50 for bhut jolokia? Not joking. Can you really die from ingesting too much pepper? It seems like your body would take over and expel it in one form or another (sweat, mucus, vomit, poop, etc.)

Maybe I'll take it to AskMe ... can you kill yourself by eating or sniffing too many hot peppers?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:39 PM on November 11, 2011


Honestly, mrgrimm... It's time you learned about this wonderful thing called "google".

LD50 of capsaicin is 50 mg/kg, or about 1 teaspoon for a full-grown man. That's pure capsaicin, mind you: about 10x that much for the bhut jolokia. This amount was well below that.

Also, the LD50 is based on blood levels; capsaicin is poorly absorbed by the digestive (hurl!) tract (whoosh!). If you're trying to commit suicide by hot peppers, I'd recommend about a quarter pound of those devils, minimum.

(Kidding! You'll never be able to keep it all down!)
posted by IAmBroom at 1:08 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wasn't accusing all enjoyers of spicy food personally of enjoying spicy food just to irritate me. I actually assume people's likes are mostly genuine. But that doesn't mean they're universally determined by nothing but naked sensory response. There's a social element, too. Both you and DoctorFedora object to the comparison I made between spiciness and sweetness partly because you see sweetness as something it's natural to like and spiciness as something you have to consciously work towards liking. As I pointed out before, that's not true for tons of people, but the fact that it is for certain groups seems to support what I'm saying. Because people can learn to like anything, so why do people invest themselves in the effort to like really hot peppers in their food, how has a certain level of connoisseurship attached itself to this challenging-to-appreciate thing when a million other challenging-to-appreciate things are just never bothered about, and why is this thing often enjoyed socially and conspicuously when so many flavours and foods are enjoyed wordlessly and thoughtlessly? Basically, how come spicy food is cool?

I don't subject every single thing to a miniature coolness analysis, but the fact that spicy food seems to be clearly more of a thing for Americans (or at least certain groups of Americans) than it is for people in my country, where it's appreciated but still just sort of there, made me wonder. I really get the impression that learning to like habaneros when you naturally don't makes you a better and cooler version of yourself, in a way that applying the exact same amount of effort learning to like, say, Hershey's dark chocolate-like product when you naturally don't never can. And I think that that is part of a thing everybody does of attaching coolness to things that are difficult, dangerous (-feeling, as DoctorFedora points out), intense and/or unusual; and a thing Americans in particular tend to do of attaching coolness to things that are foreign and/or ethnic (as in, well, not white).

Also, it probably is the endorphins - tobacco, coffee and wine have one major thing in common apart from the fact you have to develop a taste for them (or so they say), namely, that they're addictive drugs. I don't agree that spicy food is really comparable to them in other ways. For one thing, people don't talk about it the way wine people talk about wine (well, some do); they talk about it the way mountain climbers talk about climbing mountains. And yes, they do it in a totally braggy way a lot of the time. Nothing wrong with that - in fact, I think that's just part of it.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:13 PM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I made between spiciness and sweetness partly because you see sweetness as something it's natural to like and spiciness as something you have to consciously work towards liking. As I pointed out before, that's not true for tons of people

You've pointed it out before, but that doesn't make it true.

No one is created liking spicy food (notice I didn't use "born"). Younger kids from all cultures generally like spicy food much less than older kids. You do have to consciously work toward liking it, imo.

Kinda dubious source, but this article lists:

* weight loss
* improved circulation
* anticancer
* improved digestion
* better sleep (though this study says the opposite)
* relief from respiratory troubles
* anti-flu symptoms
posted by mrgrimm at 1:29 PM on November 11, 2011


What part of that AskMe shows it's not true? Lots of the anecdotes attest to the fact that Thai children and so on learn to like spicy food very young, which has also been my experience with my friends, classmates, cousins and little sister when they were all children. I'm the only one of us I can think of who suffered from it more than I liked it, and even I learned to tolerate relatively hot peppers without ever really trying, though it took me till I was practically an adult, and I'm still only happy around the cayenne range. On the other hand, I didn't have to learn to like coffee or wine (and I was quite young when I first tried them, though of course not a baby), so I don't get that either, though I at least see the evidence for it in lots of other people. I don't think there is a special class of foods you just have to learn to like; a lot depends on your culture, your family, and your particular mouth.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 2:08 PM on November 11, 2011


On the other hand, I didn't have to learn to like coffee or wine (and I was quite young when I first tried them, though of course not a baby), so I don't get that either

Ah, you are different. I'm sure your first beer tasted like glorious sunshine and not fermented horse piss. ;)

Lots of the anecdotes attest to the fact that Thai children and so on learn to like spicy food very young

Because they are given lots of it in increasing doses, after already being primed for it via their mother's amniotic fluid and breastmilk.

I'm not even sure what we are arguing about anymore though, so I concede.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:24 PM on November 11, 2011


I wish there was a ridiculously hot food challenge in Minneapolis, I'd be there every Saturday night :)

There used to be. It was called the Sri Lanka Curry House. It was on Hennepin in Uptown. Hottest and best food I've ever eaten. Been gone a long time now. My recollection is that is was open during the late 70s to mid 80s. I loved eating there, but only had one friend at the time who enjoyed eating hot and spicy food. I could never convince anyone else to try it out. They offered huge sampler plates so you could try just about everything on the menu. It was all delicious, and I always got the wood apple ice cream shake to go with dinner, so I could take a sip whenever the heat was too much.
posted by marsha56 at 2:35 PM on November 11, 2011


Nobody's linked to the reddit/boingboing post on Advice for a person contemplating rectal insertion of the world's hottest pepper?
posted by wenat at 8:52 PM on November 11, 2011


"Because they are given lots of it in increasing doses, after already being primed for it via their mother's amniotic fluid and breastmilk."

I have read about this, but here my anecdata -- I don't really like spicy food that much to begin with, and when I was pregnant, even sharp cheddar cheese was so spicy it gave me heartburn so bad it felt like a heart attack. (I'm also a northern-European-extracted American, not from a spicy-food culture. The spiciest thing I had growing up was probably Prego spaghetti sauce.) I could hardly eat anything with any flavor at all. So my kids weren't really exposed to it in utero or via breastmilk.

Child #1 wanted to eat anything and everything from the moment he was on solids. One day I was chopping onions while he sat in his high chair in the kitchen and he kept demanding, "EAT IT! EAT IT!" so I gave him a small piece of one thinking, that'll solve THAT problem. He ate it, and then demanded, "MOAR! MOAR!" When he was too little to talk we gave him some hummus on toast and he chowed it and kept trying to grab more, even though it was such spicy hummus it actually gave him a rash around his mouth. He didn't care, he just wanted more. He loves hot food so much he tries to steal from daddy's extra-spicy thai takeout. Or anybody else's that he can smell is spicy. He's two.

He also seeks out other strongly-flavored foods -- a current big favorite is I gave him a little salad with mixed bitter greens, raw red onions, stinky blue cheese crumbles, and walnut pieces, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar with fresh ground black pepper. He ate it all and liked it so much he kept trying to eat leaves off trees and bushes because they were "salad" while we tried for several days to explain that not all leaves are food.

So I'm forced to conclude that some proportion of people just really LIKE spicy or strongly-flavored foods and did not have to "grow into it" the way my husband did, who had to start small and work his way up when he decided in his 20s that he liked spice pretty well. (Me, I stick with the mild-flavored supermarket salsa. I am a wimp.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:55 AM on November 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Basically, how come spicy food is cool?

You come from France. You can't get a decent curry in France. It's not your fault you don't understand. :p
posted by howfar at 2:33 PM on November 19, 2011


I'm from Trinidad, actually; I'm only in France temporarily. But you're right about the curry. :(
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 5:26 AM on November 20, 2011


Nobody's linked to the reddit/boingboing post on Advice for a person contemplating rectal insertion of the world's hottest pepper?

Nobody's linked to ~~ DO NOT HANDLE JALAPENOS and THEN HAVE SEX?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:48 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


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