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Some Like it Hot

by Tim Pohland, category manager, online shopping
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

If you know my eating preferences, you’d never know I was born and raised in Minnesota. What I mean is, I like spicy food. No, not the Minnesota spicy. The “kick you in the rear, smoke coming from your ears, brain scrambling” spicy. When I was younger, there was a store at the Mall of America called Calido Chile Traders. Their specialty was spicy foods; and lots of it. I’d beg my mom to go the MOA just so I could go there and sample all of the spicy treats, from sauces, to salsas…even candies! When I was older, I won the Buffalo Wild Wing Blazing by eating 12 “Blazin’ Wings” in 6 minutes. Tabasco sauce is my favorite condiment. We had a habanero eating contest in culinary school, where I came in second by eating 3 habaneros. You get the picture.

I went to the State Fair this year and in the International Bazaar I came upon a vendor that sold all things spicy. But what he wasn’t selling was what took my breath away. A live Bhut Jolokia (or Ghost Chili) plant. In 2007, Guinness World Records certified the Bhut Jolokia as the world's hottest chili pepper at 1,041,427 Scoville units. A jalapeno comes in at 6,000 and a habanero between 100,000 and 500,000. (A little more on Scoville units below.) I was blown away. The owner made a hot sauce with the chilis and asked me if I wanted a sample. I hesitated for a second but I asked myself when’s the next time I’ll have a chance to try a ghost chili pepper (or a form of it). He dipped a little plastic spoon into the bottle and handed it to me. I could see a little smirk on his face as I’m sure he was thinking “he doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into!” I touched the tip of my tongue and tried just the tiniest bit. It was spicy, but I was a little disappointed. I put the rest of the spoon into my mouth and a split second later the heat started coming. It takes a second or two for you to feel the burn. I realized the burn was from the first tiny taste. My nose started running, my eyes got red and I got the hiccups almost immediately. Ok, this was spicy! It took about 10 minutes for me to regain my normal form, but during that time, my endorphins kicked into overdrive, giving me a feeling of well-being, which is what “Chili-Heads” live for. I thanked the man for the sample but passed on the sauce. Thirty dollars for a 4 oz. bottle was a little too rich for me. Besides, what would I do with it? I decided I’d just stick with my trusty Tabasco sauce.

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