Peppers: The Battle over Hot and Hotter
January 22, 2014
The Big Game nears.
The Super Bowl?
The real Big Game.
The game of competing to see who can come up with the hottest salsa.
No, the sauce.
That bottomless bowl food item served at Super Bowl parties.
The one that causes supposed grown men to compete to see who can whip up the salsa with the greatest number of Scoville Heat Units.
Hot, hot, hot.
Consumed by the gallons.
Even the tank load.
And the hotter the better.
So hot, so pungent it takes the roof off of the mouth.
Burns from head to toe.
Makes would-be macho men cry.
And try not to admit it.
So hot it double dog dares you to eat it.
Then belly-laughs at you because you did.
The heat of it might range from the mild-to-hot jalapeno to the pepper some claim is the hottest in the world – the Carolina Reaper.
As in Grim Reaper?
Careful. It’ll get you.
The claim is that it is so potent it rivals the pepper spray used by police.
People know better than to take on the pepper – any hot pepper.
But they can’t resist.
A New York–based newspaper chain bought a Texas newspaper.
Some of the New York newspaper corporation executives came to Texas to mark the occasion.
A big party was held at a downtown club to celebrate.
The club staff brought out a Texas-size assortment of food and drink.
Appropriately — this being Texas — a large tray of jalapeno peppers was included.
One of the New Yorkers picked up a big jalapeno, popped it into his mouth and chomped it down.
His face turned red.
His eyes watered.
Then he cried.
Hands shaking, he grabbed a glass of water and drank it in a single swallow.
Then he gulped a second glass of water.
Finally, he caught his breath, regained his composure.
Slowly, normal color began to return to his face.
At long last, he was able to speak.
Whereupon he proclaimed:
“Damn! Hottest pickled okra I’ve ever eaten!”
Roger Summers is a journalist and essayist who spends time in Texas, New Mexico and England and in a world of curiosity and creativity. He is the author of The Day Camelot Came to Town and Heart Songs From a Washboard Road. He can be reached at [email protected]
Please click book cover image to read more about the short story collection of Roger Summers, Heart Songs from a Washboard Road.