This is a holiday for the daredevil and the more cautious amongst us. You can celebrate it by putting your spice tolerance to the test by eating increasingly spicier things throughout the day. Challenge your friends to spicy food eating contests for a real competition. If you're a little bit more cautious, you can still enjoy this holiday! Eat spicy foods at the spice level you're comfortable with and enjoy the incredible flavor. Look out for events and festivals celebrating spice on this day for a fun activity.
History of Spicy Food
Chili peppers originally originated from Mexico and South America and weren’t spread throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia until after Christopher Columbus discovered the chili pepper and brought them back from the Americas in 1493. It is said that the spiciest spices were used as antimicrobials in food before there was such a thing as refrigeration, from a report by Jennifer Billing and Paul W. Sherman in a 1998 issue of the Journal Quarterly Review of Biology.
There are many of us who enjoy the spicier side of life. Where do you fall on the Scoville Scale?
The Scoville Organoleptic Test was created in 1912 by pharmacist Wilbur Scoville. The Scoville Scale goes from a 0-rating (a bell pepper) to 16 million (pure capsaicin). The Scoville tests the amount of capsaicin in a pepper. This capsaicin extract was added in increments to a sugar-water solution until the heat was barely detectable by a panel of taste testers. The degree of dilution is the number of Scoville Heat Units or where it falls on the Scoville scale.
Fiery Facts About Spicy Foods
Capsaicin, the chemical in peppers that makes them hot, isn’t found in any other plant and is potent enough that people can identify it even when the concentration is as little as one part per million.
The part of the chili plant that is just below the stem produces the ribs and the seeds, some of these parts are more than 16 times hotter than the rest of the pepper.
Spicy seasonings have been used in cooking over the past 6,000 years.
Chili peppers are good for you. They are high in vitamins, a good source of beta carotene, calcium, and potassium, and may help reduce cholesterol.
Many hot and spicy foods have medicinal and antimicrobial properties.
Spicy isn’t actually a taste. Certain compounds in spicy food activate sensory neurons called polymodal nociceptors. These receptors are activated by extreme heat. Your mouth feels a burning sensation because your brain believes it is in contact with a dangerous heat source, and the central nervous system reacts to whatever the sensory system tells it is going on.
All this talk about spices and food has to have your stomach hungry to eat all the spicy food. There are a thousand spicy recipes but here are a couple recipes that cover the latter.
Wherever you live, today is the day to go on the hunt for the best local spicy food. Or you can make your favorite food with an extra kick today. Whatever kind of spicy you are into make sure to enjoy - and never touch your eyes!