Monday, March 21, 2011

Surfing the heat

One of the first things that Bill does when he gets home is to reach for a bottle of hot peppers - pepperoncini to be exact. He cannot go a day without his 'fix' of heat. Apparently, certain foods that are spicy or hot release endorphins in the brain - giving what is more commonly known as a 'runner's high'. So, he gets the benefit without the workout.

When we go to dinner he ALWAYS asks the waiter/waitress to bring a bottle of hot sauce: Frank's, Tabasco, Cholula, whatever they have. If no one is looking and the food hasn't arrived he will sneak a hit of the sauce on the edge of his spoon. He disgusts me when he does that - but I figure I'm with an addict - and  I guess I'm an enabler.

I'm not exactly sure what is coating his stomach, but it must be some kind of humanoid teflon. I can't understand why he hasn't killed himself with the quantity and variety of hot foods he eats.

My dad was in the spice trading business for most of his life. I think his knowledge of the spice world is one of the things that endeared him to Bill. One of dad's stories that Bill is fond of repeating is about the ground pepper you find on the table of restaurants.  Chances are the pepper may not give you the usual kick. Have you ever wondered why?  It isn't because it's been sitting on the tables forever (though that doesn't help) but rather the restaurant bought really cheap pepper consisting of the pepper corn husks (ground up) but with the expensive pepper oil removed. The pepper oil was sold to the highest bidder.  Dad also taught Bill about  Scoville heat units of peppers.  Scoville units measure the heat or capsaicin of peppers. We were both taught that the scotch bonnet pepper was the hottest pepper you could find.

We were misinformed.

Last week when I was stuck waiting for AAA to come and fix my tire, I spent some time at Chow Chocolate.  The lady who ran the place told me all about the artisanal chocolates and I was quite intrigued. After some college girls who were staying at the hostel down the street bought some hum drum milk chocolate (one of them honestly asked for "the closest thing to a Hershey bar" - I thought the proprietor was going to strangle her), I felt I should buy something really exotic.

She pulled out some small chocolates from under what looked like a jewelers cloth - you know the kind of felt material that sometimes covers silverware so it won't tarnish. Anyway she said: "These are killer. If you like hot things - you'll love these". I bought one, just one for Bill. She wrapped it with a lovely bow and told me to tell him to pop it in his mouth. Don't take two bites - down the hatch - at  once. She said it was infused with 'ghost pepper'. Sounded kind of mild. At least it wasn't scotch bonnet.
Unfortunately, I didn't google 'ghost pepper' before I instructed Bill to pop it in his mouth.
He thought he was going to die. A half gallon of frozen yogurt later and he started to come around. We got on line and started researching 'ghost pepper' and we found videos of other clever people eating the pepper itself.

This pepper should be illegal.

Bill was such a good sport about this accident. I don't know how he forgave me.
But, the next evening, when he came home from the office, he reached for the bottle of pepperoncini without flinching. Some things never change.

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