Have you ever had friends in your group who brag about how much spice they can handle in their food? Am sure every group have some set of folks who do this. They order the spiciest food available and they eat them as though the spice makes no difference to them. To top that, when others say that the food is spicy, they lift their brows and say “Really? That is not spicy enough for me”. At times like this I wish I had access to the spiciest chilies and dump all of that on their food and force them to eat it. Handling spice gives bragging rights to folks like these.
While I admire their passion to prove that they can eat ridiculously high spice levels, I often wonder if they really enjoy food. I recently was in a situation where I had to eat through quite spicy Indian curries and I wanted to go through the experience fully to understand what makes it so exciting. I did manage to eat all that spice with an expectation that the experience would be exciting. On the contrary, after a couple of bites, all I could feel is spice for the rest of the dinner. There were so many complex flavors which were right there along with the spice. All that got killed and over powered by the spice. The food from then on was just one-tone.
That made me wonder even more. What really makes folks eat so much spice when there are so many other flavors to go with it. May be it is an addiction or may be it is just bragging rights they are looking for. Whatever the reason is, I was left dumbfounded on why someone would want their food to taste one-tone.
Folks who eat high levels of spice and disagree that this happens are just outright lying. Biologically and scientifically you are bound to lose taste reception for a while after eating high levels of spice. On ingestion of Capsaicin (which is the active ingredient spicy peppers) taste receptors send signals to your brain that there’s pain in the form of hotness or heat. The brain’s immediate reaction is to start producing endorphins to block that pain, which causes numbness. This mean numbing out the taste receptors which means you don’t get to taste any other flavor.
Though the effect is not permanent, it would last long enough than your meal.
I would say – Have your spices in moderation and enjoy the rest of the taste spectrum. You can brag about your abilities doing something else.