Thursday, March 05, 2020

101 Things #71 - Waiter, There's a Fire in my Mouth

Do you enjoy burning the roof of your mouth off? Is it fun to gasp for breath, with a scorching sensation running down your throat? Do you find that having stinging pains throughout your digestive system and out the other end enhances your day? If so, the proposal found on the Life Listed website that you should

Take a bite into the hottest chili in the world

is definitely one to add to your bucket-list of items you wish to achieve. For my part, I am happy to add this to my still-expanding anti-bucket-list that is laughingly described as 101 Things I Refuse To Do Before I Die. 

Chilis (or chillies, for us Brits) enhance the flavours of many dishes. Eating them raw is different. The active ingredient - capsaicin - reacts with the taste buds and skin and even tiny quantities of it are enough to have a violent effect. There is really no reason at all to want to eat them raw, apart from the dubious pleasure of taking part in a contest. These have become popular in recent years, fuelled, of course, by the internet and it is easy to find footage of people making fools of themselves in public as they try to be the last person still eating.

I was a on a flight to Tibet many years ago with Pakistan International Airways. They took a long time to give us any refreshment, and of course that was after the usual endless hanging around at the airport and then waiting to take-off, so when a plate of food finally arrived I tucked in ravenously . I thought the large green thing by the side of the rice was a vegetable. I ate it whole. It was a chili. I then had quite a long time to regret my impulse.

That chili was a pretty mild one, of course. The hottest chili in the world is a different order of magnitude. The authorities seem to concur that the Carolina Reaper is the hottest; it is about 1,000 times as hot as whatever it was that I ate all those years ago (measured in terms of the amount of those vicious chemicals in each bite).

The chemical formula for capsaicin is C18H27NO3.Nothing exotic in it, just the amazingly common elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, the building blocks of all life. But it is not just potentially lethal in this form, it really is - read this unnerving article on Mens if you still fancy a quick nibble.

A bucket-list item ought to be enjoyable, at least in retrospect. There is nothing pleasurable in the idea of biting into a Carolina Reaper. If others wish to try then good luck to them (and to those who have to be close to them afterwards). This one goes into my reject pile.

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