The 17 tribes of Nagaland are united, historically, by an enthusiasm for heads. The Nagas: Hill Peoples of Northeast India—my reading matter on the two-hour drive from Dimapur to Kohima, in the state of Nagaland —contains dozens of references to head-taking but only one mention of the item that has brought me here: the Naga King Chili (a.k.a. Bhut Jolokia), often ranked the world’s hottest. “In the Chang village of Hakchang,” the anthropologist J. H. Hutton is quoted as saying in 1922, “...women whose blood relations on the male side have taken a head may cook the head, with chilies, to get the flesh off.” Hutton’s use of “cook” would seem to be a reference to Chang culinary practice. Only on rereading did I realize the Chang weren’t eating the chilies—or the flesh, for that matter—but using them to clean the skull. Such is the perplexing contradiction of the genus Capsicum: condiment and industrial solvent, pleasure and pain.
The bhut jolokia is a hundred and fifty times hotter than a jalapeño. Gastromasochists have likened it to molten lava, burning needles, and “the tip of my tongue being branded by a fine point of heated steel.” Yet, at more than a million Scoville heat units—the Scoville scale, developed by the pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in 1912, measures the pungency of foods—the bhut jolokia is at least 462,400 SHU short of being the world’s hottest chili pepper.In 2013, the Guinness Book Of World Records confirmed Smokin Ed's 'Carolina Reaper' as the World's Hottest Pepper. Watch these 23 Hilarious Reactions to eating it. Not quite up to it? Try one of these other ten. Or visit The Capital Of Heat. Got too many on your hands? Try making Conserva de Pimenta .
In December, however, scientists reported creating a high-resolution image of the protein’s structure for the first time. Like the blueprint of a motor, that information should help researchers understand how the tiny apparatus can respond to such a wide array of signals — from temperature to toxins — and the role it plays in both acute and chronic pain. The results could ultimately lead to new painkillers, potentially without the troublesome side effects of opiates.
This post was deleted for the following reason: Double. -- taz
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