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Thread: Conquering The Carolina Reaper Requires Self-Deceit, Milk, And A Lot Of Barf

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    Conquering The Carolina Reaper Requires Self-Deceit, Milk, And A Lot Of Barf

    Excerpt:
    Conquering The Carolina Reaper Requires Self-Deceit, Milk, And A Lot Of Barf

    Giri Nathan
    Tuesday 10:29am

    In the same way strip malls pipe in the smell of luxury, the NYC Hot Sauce Expo must pipe in the smell of pain. The ambient tang of hot sauce greets every visitor at the door. How the mere consumption and sale of hot sauce could suffuse a huge, high-ceilinged space with its odor defies explanation. But my nostrils were beginning to tingle and my sinuses were beginning to clear just five steps into the venue, the warmest imaginable welcome for an iron-stomached idiot.

    The second thing I detect after entering the convention is the sheer amount of milk. Milk in cafeteria-style half-pints, milk in whipped-cream cans aimed directly into mouths, milk splashed forensically near the garbage can, and milk cascading down chins. The room contains a disconcerting volume of milk. Nobody told me this was the milk expo, I wonder, questioning the point of all this dairy, only to answer that question just a little later, in the most self-destructive possible fashion.

    The booths are manned by pepper farmers, sauce vendors, beef-jerky jerkers—all manner of spiced snack purveyors, from all over the country. It’s an oasis of free samples. The aisles are full of capsaicin junkies, some equipped with holsters and bandoliers for their favorite bottles. Their collective energy is potent: wrap-around sunglasses, pepper-printed apparel, old war stories about chili conquests. The expo is a subtlety-free zone, infused with the spirit of boardwalk T-shirts. Even the names of the sauces follow a rough template: select a wicked adjective (Heartbreaking, Screaming, Righteous, Voodoo), append it to a random noun (Felon, Dawn, Chili, Mimi), and call it a day. The permutations are endless.

    Every pepper has its uses, depending on the desired flavor and degree of trauma. But this day’s unavoidable star is the Carolina Reaper: lurid red pods, rumpled and warty, ending in a pointy tail. It’s possible to navigate this party without encountering the Reaper directly, to have plenty of pleasant and fulfilling conversations, but impossible to ignore it completely. It’s the steady subject of whispers and boasts. The heat of peppers is measured in Scoville heat units. An everyday jalapeño might clock in around 6,000; habaneros are closer to 350,000. The Reapers here for public consumption are billed at 1,560,000. (Pepper X, developed by the farmer behind the Reaper, might be coming for its title, though it’s unfit to eat.) It’s the ingredient in every seller’s hottest fire. It will be used in sauce for a wing eating competition later that day, and raw in a Reaper eating competition.

    Despite the pepper’s two-comma Scoville status, I figure the Reaper can’t be much worse than the war crimes I’ve previously enacted on my stomach. After warming up on a dozen sauces made with lesser anchos, ghosts, and Scotch bonnets, I decide to meet the Reaper head-on—not in a sauce, mellowed out, but in its original form. Brett, the man at the pepper farm booth, is terse. I am curious about the farm’s operations. He offers me a sliver of Reaper as if to end the conversation. It arrives on a tiny plastic spoon, thin red skin and a few seeds, roughly the size of a big toenail. I plop it into my mouth and chew. “That’s hot,” I say. “Hottest pepper in the world,” he replies, walking away, well aware of what he has just done. The first five seconds are floral, even a little sweet. It would be dishonest to describe the “taste” after that point with any word besides “oblivion.” A spoon of boiling oil has been tipped down my gullet. Well after I’ve swallowed, someone keeps pouring in more spoons.

    I walk away from the counter, not exactly sure toward what, just trying to escape my own neck. Then I beeline to the milk. Never again will I question the presence of milk, anywhere. I throw back one half-pint in a blink, talk to the milk lady for moral support, and grab another carton immediately. Milk is not a solution, but it does, fleetingly, address the symptoms, even as the pain level continues to escalate. This is what pepper deviants call the “climb.” With a pepper this potent, the heat builds for about 15-20 minutes, then you spend about five minutes suffering at the summit, then a 15-20 minute “descent” back to normalcy. Shambling through the crowd, a haze of vape smoke, tattoos, and dairy products, I finally break outside into fresh air and slump against a glass door. There I summit.

    My memory is hazy, but my audio diary from those minutes includes:

    [00:03:33] Snot’s dripping. I’m honestly looking for a small dark place. To be quiet. Some ice cream. And. The pain is.

    [00:03:55] Lingering

    (Snip)

    As soon as I am capable of speech beyond a dissociated wet blabber, some 45 minutes later, I return to the pepper farm booth to talk to Brett about my experience. A tank-topped lug is thanking Brett for providing lime juice, which helps with the capsaicin cramps that had him doubled over. The burn is gone from my mouth and throat but now I too feel a dull placeless ache in my torso, a distant cousin of the sack-tap. After I share my own Reaper experience, Tank-Top asks whether I was the voice he heard in the bathroom, hollering, “Why is this happening to me?” which is the point at which I resolve not to use the restroom at this venue for any reason.
    Much more about the Reaper-eating contest.

    Deadspin
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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    I think you meant to put this in "High Weirdness."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
    I think you meant to put this in "High Weirdness."
    Out here, chili stuff has a pretty broad foodie following. There are tons of chili-related events all summer and through the fall.

    I am a chili chicken compared to most. I grow Bird's Eye chilies for Asian cooking and I process a lot of roasted green chile every fall (yes, we spell it that way) but don't like pain in food so I steer clear of the really hot stuff.

    I've seen a few eating contests, though, and they are pretty much as described.

    I had Reaper juice on a toothpick a couple of years ago. Now, I just touched the toothpick to my tongue, I didn't suck on it or anything and certainly didn't eat it.

    I didn't get sick or woozy but I sure felt it for a good 20 minutes. Mr. Snaps eats Ghost Pepper potato chips sometimes. I've had one. It wasn't terrifying but I can't see the appeal.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    Out here, chili stuff has a pretty broad foodie following. There are tons of chili-related events all summer and through the fall.

    I am a chili chicken compared to most. I grow Bird's Eye chilies for Asian cooking and I process a lot of roasted green chile every fall (yes, we spell it that way) but don't like pain in food so I steer clear of the really hot stuff.

    I've seen a few eating contests, though, and they are pretty much as described.

    I had Reaper juice on a toothpick a couple of years ago. Now, I just touched the toothpick to my tongue, I didn't suck on it or anything and certainly didn't eat it.

    I didn't get sick or woozy but I sure felt it for a good 20 minutes. Mr. Snaps eats Ghost Pepper potato chips sometimes. I've had one. It wasn't terrifying but I can't see the appeal.
    Apparently there are many people in the world who confuse pain with pleasure. I like spice. I like flavor. I do not like pain, and I don't understand those who do.
    No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. This offer VALID in 35 34 33 32 31 26 20 17 15 14 13 ALL 50 states.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
    Apparently there are many people in the world who confuse pain with pleasure. I like spice. I like flavor. I do not like pain, and I don't understand those who do.
    The older I get the less I can handle heat. I don't even like the jalapenos on nachos, etc. I do like some red pepper in my sauce and chile powder in my chile. I probably like a little more heat than a lot of people, but definitely not to the degree I used to. My grandmother always had 2-3 different hot peppers with every meal. She made cherry peppers with garlic and oil; then fried long hots and a couple of raw long hots on the side. It was always funny to watch others try to eat the raw ones. They would start to sweat and eat a bunch of bread and drink water (not a good idea, it spreads the heat). They would hand it to her to say "oh, this is a really hot one" and she'd bit it off and just say, a little spicy, and finish it off. She used hot peppers the way most people use salt and pepper on their food.
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    I don't even like "mild" hot stuff. I can eat and drink really hot(as in heated) stuff. But not peppers.

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    I like some heat but not to the point that I can't enjoy the flavor of food because of it.
    May we raise children who love the unloved things - the dandelion, the worm, the spiderlings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by phillygirl View Post
    The older I get the less I can handle heat. I don't even like the jalapenos on nachos, etc. I do like some red pepper in my sauce and chile powder in my chile. I probably like a little more heat than a lot of people, but definitely not to the degree I used to. My grandmother always had 2-3 different hot peppers with every meal. She made cherry peppers with garlic and oil; then fried long hots and a couple of raw long hots on the side. It was always funny to watch others try to eat the raw ones. They would start to sweat and eat a bunch of bread and drink water (not a good idea, it spreads the heat). They would hand it to her to say "oh, this is a really hot one" and she'd bit it off and just say, a little spicy, and finish it off. She used hot peppers the way most people use salt and pepper on their food.
    When we lived in Texas we had a parrot. The food he ate had red, round dried peppers in the mix. One day when we were out horseback riding and the kids were at home, our daughter filled his food dish and decided to break open one of the peppers to look inside. Not thinking anything about it, she just brushed her hands off and went about her day.

    Sometime after that, she made her lunch which usually was always a cheese quesadilla. The oil from the pepper that was on her fingers got into her mouth. While it burned like crazy, she started crying and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand...and then they started burning. Our son called us and by the time we arrived, she was in hysterics with fluid flowing out of her eyes, nose and mouth. We had called the poison control hotline and they told us to continuously wipe her nose out with a wet washcloth, take a small glass filled halfway with distilled water and put it up to her eyes to flush them out and then finally, give her milk to swish around in her mouth to calm the burning. It took a few minutes but eventually, we got everything calmed down...and she never made that mistake again.
    May we raise children who love the unloved things - the dandelion, the worm, the spiderlings.
    Children who sense the rose needs the thorn and run into rainswept days the same way they turn towards the sun...
    And when they're grown and someone has to speak for those who have no voice,
    may they draw upon that wilder bond, those days of tending tender things and be the one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michele View Post
    When we lived in Texas we had a parrot. The food he ate had red, round dried peppers in the mix. One day when we were out horseback riding and the kids were at home, our daughter filled his food dish and decided to break open one of the peppers to look inside. Not thinking anything about it, she just brushed her hands off and went about her day.

    Sometime after that, she made her lunch which usually was always a cheese quesadilla. The oil from the pepper that was on her fingers got into her mouth. While it burned like crazy, she started crying and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand...and then they started burning. Our son called us and by the time we arrived, she was in hysterics with fluid flowing out of her eyes, nose and mouth. We had called the poison control hotline and they told us to continuously wipe her nose out with a wet washcloth, take a small glass filled halfway with distilled water and put it up to her eyes to flush them out and then finally, give her milk to swish around in her mouth to calm the burning. It took a few minutes but eventually, we got everything calmed down...and she never made that mistake again.
    LOL! Birds aren't sensitive to capsaicin!

    One place I cooked at used a lot of hot peppers in some dishes. We all soon believed it when older cooks and prep people told us to always use rubber gloves. You cannot wash all that stuff off no matter how thorough you think you are. You will "discover" it later.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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