Danger! Danger! Let your tongue be aware! Let’s just say I took a plunge into the depths of hell, or to be more precise my tongue took the plunge. Never, have I ever, tasted a spice so strong. Now this is how it happened. A good friend of mine was visiting from Canada so on one of our day excursions my husband Jeff and I took her to a Spice and Tea shop in a little Texas town. It was getting pretty close to lunch time and being the hearty Canadian myself, I was looking forward to a nice juicy steak. So there we were in that little store and to keep my hunger at bay I noticed a nice little bowl of tortilla chips. In behind those chips were samples of dipping sauces. I immediately spotted one that said, “Ghost Pepper and Blueberries.” Oh boy, I thought, I just love blueberries! And ghost pepper…what a cute name. So I dipped half the chip and coated it with this unknown concoction and tossed it into my mouth. Chew, chew, chew….hmm…I don’t really taste the blueberry all that much…chew, chew, chew…what other taste is that? Hmmm…YOWSA!!!!! My tongue was pretty much on fire. You know that cartoon where steam shoots out of their ears? That’s how I felt in that moment. Jeff and my friend Linda came over to see what I was sampling and noticed my eyes tearing up. I told them what sample I tried and my husband said, “Ghost pepper? That’s one of the hottest peppers in the world!” No kidding!
I looked around and saw a water cooler with these insanely tiny cardboard cups and took to filling and refilling these thimble cups at a repetitive pace to douse my tongue in an effort to put out the fire. This went on for over ten minutes until the pain subsided. Never again. I guess Casper was the last friendly ghost I encountered. Stay away from anything marked Ghost Pepper unless you want a blanket of pain on your tongue. Oh and the best part? I walked around the store and saw a big jar of Ghost Pepper powder on a shelf but on THAT jar it was cleared marked – DANGER HOT with a description that read: The Bhut Jolokia or Ghost Pepper is one of the hottest chili peppers in the world! Also known as the Naga Jolokia or Buht Jolokia, it has been measured to over a million Scoville Units. I didn’t know what that meant at the time but I figured anything with the word million in it was something to be reckoned with!
For those that are wondering what the Scoville Unit is let me put your curiosity to rest. It is a measurement of the pungency (spiciness or heat) of chili peppers and other spicy foods, as recorded in Scoville Heat Units (SHU) based on the concentration of capsaicinoids, (Say that ten times real fast!) among with capsaicin is the predominant component.
[I have since found out that the worst thing to do is drink water because it just reignites the heat on your tongue. Knowledge is power and ghost pepper is powerful. Lesson learned the hard way.]
No tongue was permanently harmed during the unintended research for this story.