Back in my Sustainability Coordinator days, I planned and organized lots of events around sustainably grown or produced foods. This included a perennially popular local foods fair that always featured our very first local farm partnership: The Farm at Red Hill, which had made a name for itself by processing its greenhouse-grown vegetables into a few tasty salsas of varying degrees of hotness. We sold this salsa in our retail locations, and also used it on burritos and quesadillas at the a la carte shops.
At the last local food event I helped organize in that old job, I showed up to the site and found students already eagerly sampling local apples, chips and salsa, and other goodies… and one small boy wandering around with his tongue stuck out and wrapped in napkin. The Farm at Red Hill grows some really, really, really hot peppers, including the ghost pepper, or bhut jolokia, which is 150 times hotter than a jalapeno (yes, people measure this stuff, using Scoville Heat Units). This hapless kid, the son of a university professor, had evidently gone up to the Red Hill table and helped himself to a nice big bite of the ghost pepper on display. Needless to say, he was in pain for a while.
Far less dramatic, but equally surprising, was the popcorn snack I brought to a movie a few nights ago. Thirty minutes into the movie, we pulled out the bag and dug in, only to find out that it was jalapeno “firecorn.” Ahh! That was quickly remedied with some regular old butter-drenched theater popcorn. But since I hate to throw away food, I held onto this bag, and the next day in a snack-y mood I tentatively gave it another go. Sure enough, I started coughing and sputtering after the first mouthful, but a few more bites in it had taken a bizarrely hypnotic hold on me. Turns out after you eat one of the baked jalapeno slices hidden in the bag, the popcorn itself tastes downright mild.
I’ve always been a self-proclaimed spice wimp, and I don’t think I’ll be running out to the store for a refill of firecorn, but I think I can probably handle a little more heat than I give myself credit for. Maybe I’ll request “two chili peppers” of heat rather than one the next time I’m ordering Thai food?