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Getting used to spicy food


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Eat often, in small quantities. Your mouth will get used to the taste before your mind will.

My infant eats spicier food than his mom. They both eat the same food -- I do the cooking. She knows I put chili in the foood and then complains she it's too spicy. If I don't tell her, she usually doesn't notice. I've been upping the dosage over the years. In the beginning, she wouldn't even eat black pepper, saying it was too spicy. I use chili paste/sauce/etc. almost every day, in small amounts. It brightens dishes and helps to present flavors.

Simply, spiciness is registered as burning/pain, and pain is a sensation to which you can easily build up a tolerance/resistence.

I eat what most people consider ridiculously spicy food. For me, the pain is barely registering anymore. Chilis have a geeen, sour taste actually, if you can get past the heat.

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I had no idea it was going to be THAT HOT, of course, but the fruity complexity of it was what brought me back to chiles after my forehead stopped bleeding.

I wish I could find a way to capture that fruity complexity while dialing back the heat so that I can use it in things I make for others who won't try it because of the heat level. I've been trying for years and haven't managed it. Apparently the Cooking Issues guys did but I don't have (and probably never will) a rotovap. Fresh habaneros are so incredibly tasty if you can focus past the heat. I wonder if the low heat varities that have been developed lose their flavor along with the heat?

I've been building tolerance my entire life so it takes some pretty hot stuff to bother me too much. My dad is a spicy food fanatic and was probably putting tabasco sauce on my pacifiers when I was a baby. I remember using hot sauces and eating hot peppers before I was old enough to start school. I also went through an extreme chilehead phase with all of the super hot extract sauces and stuff but have since decided that it's really pointless without the flavor and don't do the heat-for-the-sake-of-heat thing anymore. I grew some red savina habs a while back and those were somewhat ridiculous but the flavor was worth the heat. I have noticed that my tolerance seems to follow the "use it or lose it" rule. If I go a long time without eating anything too spicy, when I break the fast I'm more wimpy than when I'm eating the spicy stuff regularly.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I had no idea it was going to be THAT HOT, of course, but the fruity complexity of it was what brought me back to chiles after my forehead stopped bleeding.

I wish I could find a way to capture that fruity complexity while dialing back the heat so that I can use it in things I make for others who won't try it because of the heat level.

Over here in the "Cooking from Fiesta at Rick's" topic, I made a ceviche that might be what you're looking for. The recipe calls for halving and seeding a habanero, then steeping it in equal parts fresh orange and lime juices--then removing the habaneros and using the juice for marinating the fish. How long you steep it will depend on your chili and the amount of juice. Bayless says to start tasting after 1/2 hour, I left mine for an hour before using. Anyway, it was excellent. Not the full habanero experience, but the fruity flavor definitely came through with only a small amount of heat. I suppose you could always mince some of the habanero to add to your own serving if you like the pain.


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I would add - explore a few different cuisines and when you find something you like, it is OK to eat the same dish, but as other have mentioned, increase the heat level.

My wife liked the Indian "butter chicken" (sometimes called Chicken Tikka in the US or Chicken Makhani) which she started with a very mild version and is not up to a medium-hot level.

Sichuan food is a good option as well, as are Mole based dishes from Mexico - they all have complexity with a underlying layer of heat.

Edited by percyn (log)
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I wish I could find a way to capture that fruity complexity while dialing back the heat so that I can use it in things I make for others who won't try it because of the heat level. I've been trying for years and haven't managed it. Apparently the Cooking Issues guys did but I don't have (and probably never will) a rotovap. Fresh habaneros are so incredibly tasty if you can focus past the heat. I wonder if the low heat varities that have been developed lose their flavor along with the heat?

One common way of using habaneros is to put them whole (or with a little needle hole poked in them) in to a dish with a lot of soupy sauce. At the end of cooking, you remove the chilli. This adds flavour and a little heat without blowing anybody's head off.

Having said that, I love habaneros and can enjoy their heat and their flavour!

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I wish I could find a way to capture that fruity complexity while dialing back the heat so that I can use it in things I make for others who won't try it because of the heat level. I've been trying for years and haven't managed it. Apparently the Cooking Issues guys did but I don't have (and probably never will) a rotovap. Fresh habaneros are so incredibly tasty if you can focus past the heat. I wonder if the low heat varities that have been developed lose their flavor along with the heat?

One common way of using habaneros is to put them whole (or with a little needle hole poked in them) in to a dish with a lot of soupy sauce. At the end of cooking, you remove the chilli. This adds flavour and a little heat without blowing anybody's head off.

Having said that, I love habaneros and can enjoy their heat and their flavour!

You could try soaking the chillies in full fat milk. In theory, the capsaicin should dissolve in the milk reducing the heat in the chilli.

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