Hot Peppers, again.

Amanda, a fellow hot-pepper-lover, reminds me that I have not finished my Hot Pepper series. It is supposed to be a THREE-part series, but I only wrote two parts so far, the introductory (personal) post and answering the question why are peppers hot (quite a popular post of mine, linked and e-mailed around a lot, I noticed) – an evolutionary account from peppers’ perspective.
I still owe you the third part trying to explain why people (at least some people, like Amanda and myself) like to eat hot food. It turned out to be a much more exhaustive area of research (and dispute) than I initially expected so I left it for later, once I have more time and the weather cools off a little bit…but I promise I will write it sooner or later. In the meantime, read what Amanda and her commenters have to say on the subject.
But, as an Intermission, here’s a little more on my personal relationship with hot food:
Indian Tandoori restaurants in the USA are fixing much milder food than their counterparts in the UK.
My initiation to the cuisine was in London (in 1980, I believe). My cousin who lives there and his family took me to a Tandoori restaurant. He told the waiter that I was a novice to which the waiter grinned broadly and brought me a foot-high stack of napkins and an extra glass of water.
Then, we ordered the “mild” stuff for me from the menu. The waiter was still grinning. The food arrived. Bread was hot. Salad was hot. Chicken was hot. Vegetables were hot. I LIKE hot food, but I was crying and quickly depleting my stash of napkins, my two glasses of water and a glass of yogurt.
In the end, my mouth was so numb, I tried the hottest spices they had and could not feel a thing.
Needless to say, I went back to Tandoori restaurants many times since and am quite disappointed that the US version is so mild.

7 responses to “Hot Peppers, again.

  1. here’s a possible cultural explanation: tandoori is a punjabi style oven, so the food is technically punjabi (punjabi food has more meat that most indian food, so it is probably most easily exportable, e.g., chick masala or whatever). in the UK most ‘indian’ restaurants are actually run by bangladeshis from what i know, and bengali food is much spicier. in the US, tandoori restaurants might actually be run by punjabis, explaining in part the lack of spice. but, the easiest explanation has to do with the clientele probably.
    also, i can eat habeneros, no problem, so don’t talk to me about pepper love. compared to me, you suck.

  2. Hey, I was 14 at the time. Try me now! Competition anyone?
    I heard somewhere that Tandoori in India is not as hot, i.e., that the restaurnat owners made it hot for the British clientele as it appeared at the time that this was a niche to be filled and a selling point. Is that true?

  3. i don’t know if the niche was there, but i can say for a fact that punjabi food is not very spicy on a brown scale. additionally, they eat lots of yogurts and junk, and cook with butter and have cheeses. contrast with bengali food, which has lots of mustdard oil and junk, and there is a big difference.

  4. So, how do you get over the pain threshold? I still can’t eat anything hotter than “mild”. It hurts too much.

  5. So, how do you get over the pain threshold? I still can’t eat anything hotter than “mild”. It hurts too much.
    you can work up tolerance. also, there is variation in ability to handle heat. PTC non-tasters, like myself, have higher thresholds because we don’t taste it as powerfully. super-tasters tend to be sensitive, while tasters are in between. the % of PTC non-tasters varies across the world. the highest % is in south asia.

  6. Those GNXP posts are definitely part of the post #3.

  7. I don’t think I’ve seen it mentioned yet, but there is a terrific Hot Sauce Blog.