Hot, Spicey Food

How Hot Is That Pepper? is a scientific article “quantifying capsaicinoids with chromatography”; that is, explains why peppers are hot and attempts to quantify their hotness:

What causes the “heat” in peppers? All hot peppers belonging to the genus capsicum, which includes red peppers, tabascos, habaneros, and paprika, contain capsaicinoids that produce a burning sensation in the mouth by acting directly on the pain receptors in the mouth and throat… The primary capsaicinoid, capsaicin or trans-8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide, is so hot (rated at 16 million Scoville units) that a single drop diluted in 100,000 drops of water will produce a blistering of the tongue.
Capsaicinoids are found primarily in the pepper’s placenta, the white “ribs” that run down the middle and along the sides of a pepper. Because the seeds are in close contact with the ribs, they are also often hot. Caution should be exercised in handling some of the more fiery peppers as their juice can burn the skin and damage the eyes. Because capsaicins are not water-soluble, drinking milk (with milk fat and proteins) rather than water is a more effective way to quench the fire caused by hot peppers.

And related to this subject, The Official Hot Spicy Foods Internet Index. “Official”. Right.

4 Replies to “Hot, Spicey Food”

  1. I used to have a lot of interest in spicey foods. I would eat spicey stuff constantly and loved the pain. I don’t like it anymore because a slight pain in my mouth means that I’ll be throwing up all night. Turns out hot peppers can cause gastronomical reflux disease and prompts a reaction. In most people it’s just pain. For me it’s intolerable pain followed by hours of gleeful vomiting.

  2. Exactly for the reason stated (the spicey stuff is oily instead of water solutable, a strong whiskey or other heavily alcoholed beverage will do wonders, much better than milk.

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