All News & Blogs
If you can't take the heat
Beware the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, hottest pepper.
NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY
Visit the Photo Place
By Edie Gross
In legal parlance, I believe that's known as "an attractive nuisance," like putting a "no trespassing" sign on an abandoned waterslide park, figuring that'll keep the kids out.
We'd apparently eaten something called a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, which is as bad as it sounds. New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute declared it the world's hottest pepper in February, an interesting tidbit that would have been beneficial to know before I put it in my mouth.
Justin even found an article online--after the fact, of course--where a San Diego pepper grower compared the sensation of eating one of these things to a "crack-like rush."
If by "rush," he meant "overwhelming urge to throw up, followed by a primal need to hook one's mouth up to a fire hydrant," then yes, it was quite a rush.
I spent about 10 minutes with my face in a water fountain, trying to put out the fire. Then I raided the ice machine, figuring I could cool the burn that way.
As it turns out, this--much like eating the pepper in the first place--was a terrible idea.
The stuff that makes hot peppers hot is capsaicin, a word derived from the Greek term Capsicum, which, roughly translated, means "DO NOT EAT THIS, ESPECIALLY IF ONE OF YOUR CO-WORKERS SUGGESTS IT!"
Not only can water not dissolve capsaicin, which is an oil, but it tends to spread the burn around. Which is exactly what happened.
About 15 minutes into what I was pretty sure would be a near-death experience, if not a fatal one all together, someone in the newsroom said she read somewhere that milk could stop the burn.
I am lactose intolerant, so dairy is usually the cause of my emergencies, not the cure. I was weighing my options when another co-worker--coincidentally, the same one who put the peppers on the calorie counter with a blatantly insufficient warning label to begin with--offered me his yogurt.
I figured a little indigestion was a fair price to pay to douse the inferno that was my mouth. And sure enough, it worked.
As for Scoville units, which are apparently more akin to British pounds than Pakistani rupees, why not measure food heat using a scale that's a little more transparent to the average person?
Peppers could be labeled with easily understood ratings like "mild," "medium," "hot," "hot enough to make you regret eating it" and "hot enough to make you involuntarily crap your pants."
This particular pepper was just shy of that last rating, which is a good thing. I'd have hated to stuff that yogurt down my pants.
Edie Gross: 540/374-5428