Our brains are better than you think at tuning out all sorts of constants in our everyday lives.
May 15, 2012
So why aren't they discouraging us supposedly rational humans?
In Santha Rama Rau’s book, “The Cooking of India,” he relates the story of an Indian woman visiting London who became ill from the bland food and craved the hot stuff so much she poured a bottle of Tabasco sauce, plus 16 red-hot South American chilies over her omelet before she could eat it.
And for dieters, it can be an appetite suppressant, because if extremely spicy foods don't kill you they can kill off your appetite.
Chili peppers, from the genus Capsicum, are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae.
SHU, otherwise known as The Scoville scale, was developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912 to measure the all important heat units.
Weighing in at 1,001,304 Scoville heat units, the Bhut Jolokia chili from India has just been named the world's hottest pepper by the Guinness Book of World Records.
To show you how hot that is, the Poblano is 2500-10,000, Jalapenos and Chipolte a mere 5000-23,000.
Maybe the best explanation for the insanity comes from psychologist Paul Rozin, at the University of Pennsylvania, who calls it "benign masochism."
"We eat chilies, for the same reason that we ride roller coasters and watch horror films: to fool the body into thinking it's in danger, and then enjoy the adrenal ride.”
Sweat pouring off you. Lurching for water. Lips burning.
It's fun, right?
Unless you have another explanation.