Friday, March 29, 2013

A pepper 'arms race'?

It seems boys and their toys have returned to agriculture.  The Wall Street Journal reports:

"Please don't try this at home—we are fully trained idiots."

So went the disclaimer back in October 2010 as British pepper aficionado Leo Scott and his friend Lok Chi uploaded a video of themselves eating a new variety, the Naga Viper, developed by fellow grower Gerald Fowler. The warning was warranted as the two very experienced chiliheads sweated, writhed in pain and briefly lost the ability to speak after each chewing and swallowing one of the bright-red capsicums.

A month later, the Guinness Book of World Records certified what Mr. Scott found out the hard way: The Naga Viper was the hottest pepper ever grown, measuring 1.382 million Scoville Heat Units, the standard measure of heat. That is 225 times as hot as a jalapeño can sometimes be.

Unfortunately for Mr. Fowler, his record wouldn't stand for long. Four months later, the Naga was dethroned by the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, the current record holder, at 1.464 million Scovilles.

"I was shocked," says Mr. Scott, who lives near Bristol, England. "You've got this global community of chili growers who are competing ruthlessly with each other."

The Naga itself had just surpassed the Infinity Chili, which held the official record for a mere eight months.

. . .

... sauce producers haven't bothered to wait for Mother Nature to deliver hotter concoctions by adding potent extracts ... Nick Moore, proprietor of Dr. Burnörium's Hot Sauce Emporium in Bristol, is about to launch one called Psycho Serum weighing in at a scorching 6.4 million Scovilles. He compares its kick to "licking the surface of the sun."

The undisputed king of the hot sauce world though is Blair Lazar, a New Jersey entrepreneur who achieved a Guinness record of 16 million Scovilles—the scientific maximum. He required customers to sign a waiver before buying his "Blair's 16 Million Reserve." It consists of individual crystals of pure capsaicin produced in a laboratory.

There's more at the link.

I understand the hottest pepper currently available is the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.  There are several video clips on YouTube of idiots eating one, and then suffering accordingly!  Most of them are a bit ridiculous, so I won't embed them here.  Instead, here's one of a professor trying a Bhut Jolokia pepper during a lecture.

Perhaps I should nominate all those who try to eat the really hot ones for a Doofus Of The Day award?


1 comment:

Toejam said...

I learned my "chilli pepper" lesson many years ago; when as a 16 year old I went to work part-time after school hours for an elderly Italian deli owner.

He taught me how to use the cold-cut slicing machine and my job was to slice dozen and dozens of whole salamis and baloneys into wafer thin slices for the customers.

One day while I was preparing for my short work break he gave me a sandwich made from a piece of Italian bread and containing green and red slices of what I later found to be HOT pepper.

All the staff knew what was about to transpire and they stood watching as I bit into the sandwich. Didn't taste bad for about 5 seconds and then YEOW. I headed for the water fountain.

After recovering from the initial shock and the voluminous laughter of my fellow workers I decided I must continue because I didn't want to be labelled a wussie. So down the whole sandwich went and down my cheeks my tears flowed copiously.

Finally, the pain subsided and I went back to work figuring my ordeal by scorched tongue was a thing of the past.

Then, the next morning my bowels stirred at the usual time. Little did I know the chilli pepper nightmare is a TWO-ENDED ordeal with round two just beginning to commence. I though my butt was on fire and the toilet bowl would crack from the flames I imagined were emanating from my rear end.

Later that day, while walking into the deli with an obvious limp, I was greeted by numerous "knowing" smiles.

Another of life's lessons learned the hard way.