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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hottest Hot Peppers of them All

So our family spent the evening as we often do. . .with dear friends.  We ate great food, laughed a ton and then made music together.  It's a typical, low key Friday night for us, and a tradition we treasure.

Tonight, however, things turned a little, um, well, dangerous. . .Someone had a hot pepper. 

And when I say 'hot,' I mean HOT!  Apparently, the work mates of our friend decided to have a hot pepper eating contest today.  This was one of the many contestants.  It's supposed to be FIFTY times HOTTER than a HABANERO.

That, my friends, is VERY spicy!

We think it's called a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.  In 2012, it was rated as the 'world's hottest' chili pepper at 1,200,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).  There's a new official 'world's hottest' pepper now, though, called the Carolina Reaper. 2,200,000 SHU.  I can't even fathom numbers that high!

To give you some frame of reference for the Scoville Heat Unit Scale, here are some ratings:

Banana Peppers/Pimentos     100-900 SHU
Jalapenos/Chipotles               3,500-8,000 SHU
Cayenne/Tabasco                   30,000-50,000 SHU
Scotch Bonnet/Habanero       100,000-350,000 SHU
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion     1,200,000 SHU
Carolina Reaper                      2,200,000 SHU

Quite a difference, huh?  For those of us who love chipotles or a shot of Tabasco here and there, and think that adds enough heat, thankyouverymuch, I just can't imagine chomping into a Habanero, let alone a Moruga Scorpion!  Su-i-cide!

And you'd think that our intelligent, articulate group of mature adults and exemplary kids would would know not to.  Chomp into one, I mean.  Intentionally.


Even from across the room, my eyes watered when the lid was taken off the plastic container the little food demon was in.  Those closer to it actually teared up.  Those closest. . .well. . .moved.

A story was told about a huge, strapping, burly man who thought he could handle the heat and confidently bit right into one.  Within seconds, he was crying like a big old baby while dancing around in excruciating pain.

I thought that little narrative was an excellent cautionary tale.  Apparently some of those present thought it was more of a challenge sort of thing.  Sigh.

To be fair, only two out of the whole crowd were leaning in that direction.  Two others present had already tried a bit of the pepper another time and wouldn't do it again for love nor money.  But two would not heed the warnings and were determined to try.

One was my beautiful 17 year old, NORMALLY sensible, daughter.  The other was a slightly younger, but equally intelligent, young man.

A wee bit of juice misted onto the ends of toothpicks was tried first.  No measurable reaction was noted as they eyed each other from across the table.  I think they were just trying to show each other up.

Round 2 was a tiny speck.  The boy's eyes began to water.  My daughter flushed a little.  But both held their ground.

A larger piece was handed out. . .about 1/16th of an inch squared. Visible signs of discomfort and sweat were apparent.  I assumed the contest was over.  It was not.

A larger piece was given to each. . .about a half inch long and a quarter of an inch wide.  I noticed they both hesitated this time. . .a calculated pause, clearly hoping that the other would cry uncle and end the whole thing.

In. Serious. Pain.
But my daughter is stubborn.  And, apparently, so is our friend.

Into their mouths, the peppers went. . .and then?

All. Heck. Broke. Loose!

I have NEVER seen such a sputtering and drinking of milk and licking of ice cubes and begging for ice cream in my life.  They both found themselves half laughing at their predicament (and utter stupidity) and half crying in excruciating pain.  Nothing would soothe them as the heat intensified with time.  I quickly stopped shaking my head in that mother way I often do and genuinely felt sorry for the pair.  They were hurting BADLY!

We did all we could to ease their discomfort, thinking that soon, perhaps, the worst would be over.  We tried to distract them as best we could in the meantime to keep their mind off of the pain. . .but they, themselves, figured out a perfect way to keep their minds off of their burning mouths and throats:  at almost the same, exact moment. . .they BOTH touched their eyes.


What. A. Night!!

(Picture of a habaneros courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net and can be found here)

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