Tastes Like Burning

25 Aug

Deadly weapons

Part of our vegetable haul from the Cameron Highlands was a bag of hot peppers. “These are really hot,” the auntie told us, and our reaction was, “Great!” because Tom, especially, is keen on spice and has a higher tolerance than anyone would expect from a Latvian-Scottish kid raised in rural Michigan. While making dinner, I decided to test exactly how hot these peppers were, so I cut off a wee slice from the very end (i.e. furthest from the seeds, which carries the actual capsaicin). And then ran around trying to find something to put out the burning in my mouth. (Which is also how I found out that our 2% milk is vanilla-flavored, but that’s another story.) One lesson I learned from this: if an old Malaysian lady tells you something is hot, you should believe her. After dousing the flames to a manageable smolder, I very carefully shaved off two or three very thin slices to include in the hot and sour soup I was making for dinner.

And that’s when we learned lesson #2: too much capsaicin can make you sick. About 30 minutes after finishing the soup — which was actually not inedibly spicy — both of us became violently ill, thanks to the acid reflux caused by the peppers. (Everything else was pretty thoroughly cooked, so the chilis remain the prime suspect.)

So what are these lethal peppers? At first I suspected they might be the infamous Bhut Jolokia, or ghost pepper, also known as the hottest pepper in the world. It’s a pepper so hot that locals use it to keep away wild elephants (with smoke from the peppers), and the Indian army is rumored to be testing it as a weapon. The photos are awfully similar, no? It’s more likely that it’s a variety of the Malaysian Goronong, described as a habanero-like chili with a “delicious fruity flavor.” I was too busy crying to notice the flavor, so I’ll have to take their word for it.

The true identity of these fire bombs may forever be a mystery, but one thing is for sure: despite my high spice tolerance, the only thing I’ll be making with these babies is pepper spray.


3 Responses to “Tastes Like Burning”

  1. Chris Sheets August 25, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    In the spirit of your title, I propose that they are Guatemalan insanity peppers.

  2. Sri April 21, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    those hot babies are similar to jorhat bhut which is from the same family as bhut jolokia. nice find. 🙂


  1. Market Monday: This Bud’s for You | Straight Out of Kampung - September 20, 2013

    […] with a sensitivity to daylilies. We had eaten them before, during the unfortunate episode with the chili peppers of doom, but it appears that some of the ill effects might have been due to the buds, as we both got sick […]

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