Spice and peppers aren't about flavor: they're painful sensations. Are Mexicans masochists? Science says yes.
When it comes to spicy food and hot peppers, most Mexicans are addicted. Mexicans add chili to everything, from candy to chocolate, fruit, and sauces that are already spicy! Sometimes they add two different sauces to a single taco, just to really have the best of both worlds. To a foreigner, it would seem as though food were completely tasteless to Mexicans unless it came with a little kick. This is why they love to eat peppers in every shape and form. They like them whole, in powder, and in salsa, of course. A taco without salsa is just not right. Think about it.Peppers have been part of the Mexican diet since pre-Columbian times. Some archeological studies point out that peppers might have been the first domesticated species in Mesoamerica. But let’s make one thing clear: spiciness isn’t a flavor, it’s pain. So, what is it, then? Are Mexican masochists? Is there something wrong with them? Surely, there’s an explanation for this.
I'm going to get scientific. The chemical in peppers that causes the sensation of heat is called capsaicin. This chemical stimulates the release of endorphins that neutralize pain. So, it’s not the spiciness that’s addictive, it’s the effect that it has on our brain. Let’s say that eating hot peppers is a very Mexican way to experience pleasure through pain. So yeah, Mexicans are masochists.
The Habanero pepper is one of the hottest peppers in the world, according to the Scoville Scale, which ranks how hot a pepper is. It measures how diluted capsaicin has to be for the sensation of heat to disappear completely. For example, bell peppers don’t have any capsaicin, so they get a 0 on the scale, but Habanero peppers get 300,000 Scoville heat units. This means it has to be diluted 300,000 times for the sensation of heat to disappear.
Here's a word of advice: if you eat something with chili and it’s too hot, do not drink water. Capsaicin is oil-based, so water will only spread it. You’re better off drinking milk, alcohol, or lemon juice. Chili peppers are not all that bad, though. They’re loaded with vitamin C, which helps heal wounds and boost your immune system. Green chilies are also proven to regulate your blood sugar. That means that if you’re a diabetic, this might be a great complement to a healthy diet.Now, in all honesty, chili peppers are not for everyone. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll understand why Mexicans love them. So go ahead, try it. You’ll thank us later.