Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's Hot? (re-posted)

Last year my Mom sent me an article from her local paper about a hot pepper from northern India called the Bhut Jolokia. It is in the Guinness Book as the hottest pepper in the world. Mom scribbled a note across the top of the article, "PLEASE DON'T TRY THESE!" So, of course, I've been on a mission to acquire some. I found that I can get seeds from the Chili Pepper Institute at the University of New Mexico but I haven't gotten it together to order them so now my goal is to find fresh ones somewhere locally.

Also, a few of weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Uncle Brutha, owner of Uncle Brutha's Gourmet Foods and Hot Sauce Emporium, here in DC. He has, what looks like, almost every hot sauce and chili-based condiment known to man lining the walls of his tiny shop on Capitol Hill in Eastern Market.

The cool thing about his shop is that he'll let you taste samples of a lot of what he sells. I decided, after chatting the Uncle up a minute, to try one of his hottest products. First, let me tell you, it's always been my claim to fame since I was a toddler, that, if its hot, I will eat it. I have won many a bar bet because of this. So I thought I would be prepared for whatever Uncle Brutha could hit me with. I was very wrong!

He gave me a tortilla chip with a drop of a substance (this could not be called a "sauce") called 357 Magnum on it. I touched my tongue to it and it was hot but didn't seem too much hotter than the Habaneros I keep in various forms in my home. So I pop the whole chip in my mouth just as the delayed burn of the first taste made itself evident. First, I got that weird chili-head's sensation of the top of my head feeling like it popped off and I could feel cool air on my brain. Then a sensation of my tongue being, literally, on fire as my vision blurred for a second or two and then my tongue went numb and, though I was trying to be cool and not panic because my heart started to race, Brutha handed me a little cup of whipped cream in the hope of cutting the burn a little. The only thing wrong with 357 is that it has almost no actual flavor, it's just the capsicum resin, the chemical that makes peppers hot. For hours afterwards I my heart like the Sacred Heart in Catholic iconography but it was a more a comfortable glow by then.
So, back to the Jolokia...

I got an email newsletter from Uncle Brutha today and he linked this video of Wal Street Journal writer Stan Sesser actually trying one of these peppers for the first time. His reation is similar to mine except he got some flavor with the burning numbness.

NOTE: The City Paper reported last week that Uncle Brutha's was closing due to a drop in business after the closing of Eastern Market due to a damaging fire.

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Blogger wheezer said...

Of course, your Mom says please don't try it, which makes you want to try it even more.


June 18, 2008 at 4:30 PM  

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