Most of us love a good curry that makes us sweat a little, but our tongues, and stomachs… and bathrooms really hate us the next day.
Sometimes I wonder if I actually enjoy the burn or just the challenge of willpower and strength.
Whether it’s pride or enjoyment, First We Feast asked the most well-equipped chili experts how to deal with the burn.
Before you even let that fire enter your belly, you should prepare yourself by making sure your stomach is not empty.
Sean Evans, the host of Hot Ones, said:
I’ll usually have a light lunch, either mac and cheese or a banana and some toast.
“Hot Sauce Boss” James Beck, said you should eat “preferably something that digests slowly like meat or even a small bowl of oatmeal. Eating something really spicy on an empty stomach will gut bomb most people almost every time. If you’ve never been gut bombed, you don’t want to experience that—trust me.”
Apparently we should ease our palates into the spicy heat wave, both physically but also mentally.
It seems that a bit of mind management can be the difference between mouth pain and chili gains.
Randy Santel of Food Challenges explains:
There have been times where I bit into something, not knowing that there was a raw jalapeno or other spicy pepper included, and I started freaking out, sweating, and running for water or whatever cold liquid was closest.
The reason for the difference is that I was mentally prepared for the heat of the extra spicy foods, but was completely thrown off guard by the heat of the jalapeno, a less spicy pepper than the others.
Preparation can only take you so far, it is how you cope after the capsicum wave hits you that will make or break you.
A lot of people make the mistake of dousing their tongue in water, but because capsicum is an oily substance, it is better to bind a fatty dairy substance like milk that will bind with it.
Interestingly, though beer definitely makes the chili situation a lot worse, vodka is quite good at killing the heat.
In a statement that I think is profound, Chili Klaus, said:
When you are actually burning, time is your friend. Most of the pain sits in your brain and the way you tackle that.
I sometimes compare hot chilies with winter bathing – if you throw a 17-year-old into cold water she will scream like crazy, but an old woman would swim like nothing bothers her. It’s all in the brain. Maybe have a couch nearby to lay on and think a little bit about your life too.