Is it cool to be spicy?

May 23, 2011

Why do we not use more hot peppers in fast food?  We have tons of hot sauces to choice from, but is our fast food spicy? Not really.  Gosh darnit, we even have Taco Bell, which has a picture of a hot pepper on its website and I don’t remember breathing fire from their food last time I was there. Because when we say something is spicy in America in terms of fast food it usually means it’s not really.

Spicy in fast food means that we want a little kick to think we’re doing something drastic to our palates but really it’s just fake spicy when the ethnic restaurants have more spiciness to them.  And it seems to me that spiciness is a more masculine trait because I read that spicy food makes us eat less and I also read that women are more apt to be heavier in this country than men.  Bon Appetit!

If other ethnicities like spicy food better than us what does that say about Mexicans here and their cuisine? They have obesity problems just like a lot of people here.  According to the book, Blue Corn, Chocolate, the chile pepper originated in Mexico.  Maybe I’m wrong, but when I volunteered at a Philabundance food pantry, I saw a lot of beans, and Spanish speaking people and other ethnicities taking the beans.  You don’t see a lot of bean dishes at Taco Bell (I always get the cheesy bean and rice burrito when I go there).

When I was in Hunan province in China, I saw tons of chili peppers laid out to dry.  I wonder if the thinking is that they’ll get hotter?  I bought some peppers from Pike’s Place Market in Seattle last summer and they did dry, but a lot of them got moldy and eventually, I had to compost them.  It seems to me they’d be better fresh than dried anyway.

I just made harissa, a North African dish made out of dried chili peppers, olive oil, and spices.  I had to buy the peppers dried because then you soak them.   I thought maybe I couldn’t find them dried, but Assi Plaza (the Asian superstore) had them, sure enough. To make the harissa, I took out all the seeds from the chili peppers once they had soaked and cut them up.  It was a lot of chili peppers, but then I put them in the food processor with olive oil and spices to blend.  I put it on pasta as a sauce and it was ok, but I wonder how it would taste with meat or with bread?

I was thinking, if chili peppers originate in the Americas and spread to the rest of the world after Columbus came over, then harissa must not be as old as hummus right?  Hummus was invented, supposedly, in the 13th century or so, according to wikipedia, and chili peppers have probably been around for at least 500 years because Columbus “discovered” America in 1492, so that gives the chili pepper lots of time to get around the planet.

It’s a condiment which I actually preferred over hummus because I love spicy food, but it’s not as widely available as other dips or spreads/sauces.  Maybe because we don’t like spicy food as much as other countries?  Or maybe we do like spicy food, but we like our calorie laden drinks better to soothe the throat.

We do have spicy chicken wings and meats, but with all those hot sauces, we have to use them on something! But what would it taste like to put chili sauce on vegetarian food? I always think of chili sauce as complimentary with meat, but it would be more beneficial to vegetarians because it’s all vegetables.

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One Response to “Is it cool to be spicy?”

  1. Catherine Says:

    I’m a mostly vegan college friend of your Mom and Dad. She sent me the link at Christmas time but I’ve been a bit slow in actually following up. Good work!


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