You bite down into your favourite chile pepper and immediately you feel your tongue and mouth getting hotter and hotter. Pretty soon your whole face feels like it’s on fire, maybe you even see the droplets of sweat beginning to form on your forehead. By now your whole face is a fiery red colour, you swear you have flames shooting out of your mouth, and steam exploding out of your ears.
For some reason, some of us thoroughly enjoy the experience described above. Raise your hand if you do? Even if it isn’t your favourite sensation in the world, it is one that can’t always be avoided if you like to eat chilies. Some people can experience the sensation with a (mild-ish) jalapeño or a screaming hot habanero, it all comes down to your personal heat tolerance — and actually some days you may be more sensitive to the heat than others. Sometimes I can eat habaneros with hardly a reaction, and other days I can barely handle the heat in a jalapeño.
Do you know what exactly is it that gives chiles their burning sensation? Many people think it’s all the fault of the seeds incased inside pepper pods. But that isn’t entirely the answer. I wrote an article, What Gives Chillies Their Heat, detailing why exactly it is that chile peppers make our mouths burns. I think you’re going to be surprised with the answer and enjoy the article too. Head over to my Spicy Food column on About.com to find out more!
Also while you’re there, do check out an article titled “Want to Live Longer? Eat More Spicy Food“, it details findings recently discovered on the tie of longevity and chile peppers.