Given that I grew up with flame coloured hair, it is ironic that I am unable to cope well with spicy food. I have a Pavlovian response to hot sauces and spices – the slightest hint of chilli and I start to sniff like an Alsatian in a warehouse full of narcotics.
I enjoy hot food but my mouth is just too sensitive to be a serious consumer of peri-peri sauce, chilli or those home made sauces you get in small, authentic Portuguese eateries, where an old Jack Daniels bottle has been used to store the local blend. Love the aroma, enjoy the taste (at first) but just can’t eat hot food without resembling Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer with a bout of hay fever.
As a result the hot sauce in our household is used as often as a book in a reality TV star’s home and the line between curry and stew is a fine one. While I handle spices about as well as sports fans handle losing the cup final, you get some people who can consume hot sauce like us mere mortals consume soft drinks.
We all know that person who stands around the braai bragging about how they can handle hot food, as if it’s a major achievement and something they can one day use as an epitaph. “Here lies Davey Jones. He had no friends because he liked to brag but boy could he eat Habanero sauce.”
Next time you encounter some smug person who derides your inability to eat spicy foods, suggest one of the hot treats below. They are measured in Scoville heat units (SHU) that reflect the amount capsaicin in each sauce. Basically, the higher the Scoville number, the hotter the sauce. Remember to take photos of their smug looks being replaced by grimaces of pain.
Cool million pepper extract – as the name suggests, this has a Scoville rating of 1 million SHU. The product bares a warning that it is not suitable for children and should not be over-used. Unless you’re trying to prove a point to dinner guests you don’t like.
The Ghost Pepper – this particular pepper has previously been rated as the hottest in the world. Climate seems to affect its Scoville rating, but scores of over 1 million SHU seem to be common. To put this pepper’s voracity in perspective, it has been developed for use in law enforcement including pepper spray and non-lethal hand-grenades. Bon a petit!
Mad Dog 357 Magnum Pepper Extract – at 5 million SHU, this is undoubtedly one of the hottest pepper sauces you will ever find. It is only to be used as an additive. Add a drop to your curry, mix it in with your potjie, but what ever you do, don’t consume it directly. It may lead to serious harm. But isn’t that what you want from your food items?
Blair's 16 Million Reserve – you probably won’t find this anywhere as only a handful of bottles were produced and the last one was sold in 2006, but with a heat rating of 16 million it’s probably best if you DON’T get your hand on these crystals. One tiny crystal, the size of a grain of sugar, is enough to turn a pot of bland stew into something that is probably too hot to eat. Who ever you plan to feed this too may need to have plenty of sick leave available and an up-to-date life policy.