Javier’s Levels Of Hotness

By Chad Olsen

hot chile

 

My friend Javier has a unique way to figure out the hotness of chili peppers. Before we get to that, a little background about chili peppers is needed. Wikipedia has a brief write up on this subject. Ushotstuff.com is also a good source. What makes chilies so hot is a substance called capsaicin (cap-say-ah-sin). This is a chemical compound that stimulates the nerve endings in the skin.

Back in 1912, American chemist Wilbur Scoville developed the Scoville Organoleptic Test to measure the hotness of chili peppers. The measurement is called Scoville Units. Chili hotness, stated in Scoville Units, is imprecise due to climate, soil, genetics, etc., but the ranking of peppers is fairly reliable. Here are a few that we are somewhat familiar with in Mexico:

         

          The Pepper                         Scoville Units

          Bell                                      0

          Sonora                                300-600

          Poblano                              1,000-2,000

          Jalapeno                             2,500-8,000

          Serrano                               8,000-22,000

          Chipotle                              10,000-25,000

          Tabasco                              30,000-50,000

          Habanero (orange)            100,000-325,000

          Scotch Bonnet                   150,000-325,000

          Habanero (red)                  350,000-580,000

The Red Habanero is the hottest pepper found around here, but the hottest in the world is the Naga Jolokia (India) at over 1,000,000 Scoville Units! Law enforcement pepper spray is over 5,000,000 Scoville Units! Now, I’m feeling sorry for those protesters that got their eyes intentionally sprayed while their eyelids were held open.

While downing a few shots of tequila with Javier at the Beer Saloon, I tried to educate him about the Scoville measurement of pepper hotness.

“No, my friend,” he says, “hotness must be experienced: not measured.”

“What do you mean?” I ask, “Tell me about it.”

“Well,” he says, “there are really six levels of hotness. The lowest is the fire you feel in your mouth and the numbness of your lips; like your dentist just gave you a shot.

“The second level is a glow on your face and ears; like what you see when you turn on the hot plate for your morning coffee.

“At the third level your scalp begins to sweat and tingle; like a thousand ants are crawling around.

“A ringing in your ears announces the fourth level; like the sound of one of those new-fangled electric alarm clocks.

“The fifth level is a sense of well-being; like that college weed you used to smoke. This can last for several hours.” He stopped at this point. I could tell that he wasn’t sure he should go on.

“But that is only five levels,” I complain, “You said there were six.”

“Yes, you are right,” he says, “but not many experience the sixth level. It requires eating a generous amount of the hottest pepper we have here in Mexico. “It is the out-of-body experience,” he says, as he looks to see if I am laughing,

“You begin to drift as light as a feather. You will be able to look down on your dinner companions. When this happens, you have experienced the sixth and highest level of hotness.”

 

Pin It
The Golden Age Of Mexican Cinema By Herbert W. Piekow   In March 2010 I went to Museo de Arte de Zapopan, with my friend Juan Carlos, to see an
The Resilience of Our Mexican Friends By Leah Jewall   Friends from San Ignacio had stopped by for tea. Fifteen minutes later the torrential downpour
MEXICAN DAZE:Sennacherib, the Alpha Humming-bird. By Iris Slocombe   Alpha humming-bird? Do humming-birds have a ‘pecking order’? We would
REVISED MEXICAN HEALTH CARE LAWS—and how it affects you. By Jackie Kellum, RN   As a nurse I am always interested in political decisions that
Editor’s Page By Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez The Mexican-American Soldier     When the United States first entered WWII in December of
Wordwise With Pithy Wit By Tom Clarkson   This morning, my pal F.T. – who shared the Iraq experience with me during my third trek there – forwarded
LAKESIDE LIVING Kay Davis Phone: 376 – 108 – 0278 (or 765 – 3676 to leave messages) Email: kdavis987@gmail.com November
Front Row Center By Michael Warren    The Pajama Game By Richard Adler and Jerry Ross Directed by Peggy Lord Chilton Music directed
Every Word  Important By Herbert W. Piekow   Every word a writer writes has meaning yes, sometimes they never get published or the book
LEGERDEMAIN—Italian Style By Jim Rambologna   Enzio Grattani was the Editor-in-Chief of a local rivista (or magazine) in Ajiermo, Italy. Locals
 Find us on Facebook