…Plus the Science of the Chilli.
There’s nothing better than curling up all cosy when it’s cold outside…Except I fidget loads and could never just “cosy up”, but just imagine the scene: you’re back home, you’ve kicked your shoes off and there is absolutely nothing that will get you back out again. What can you have to make you even cosier? Cava? (obviously), chocolate? hot chocolate? even hotter chilli con carne? All of the above? We’re entering the danger zone now though, you want some fire in your belly but you want to control the intense sweats, pain on your tongue and runny nose that you would usually get with spicy. Why can they take the heat so well and I’m left a quivering heap reaching for the yoghurt and milk?! Because that’s SO attractive! You want to maintain your composure…
The Science of the Chilli.
A chemical element of the chilli, named capsaicin, is the reason why we feel ‘heat’ from chilli. It stimulates the pain receptors on our tongue and our mouth, making us feel ‘hot’. It’s actually the plant’s defence mechanism, which makes me feel a bit weird as it really doesn’t want to be eaten (but I guess, does anybody?!?!) and is a neurotoxin, meaning it can be destructive to your nerve tissue and cause damage. Water is not an appropriate ‘antidote’ as it doesn’t dissolve the capsaicin. I’ve already written a post about why we should look after our senses! Capsaicin instead dissolves in fats and oils, hence why we drink milk after something too spicy to handle. So why, if it’s the plant’s defence mechanism, painful, and possibly harmful for our nerve tissue, do we still eat chilli?
Because eating chilli releases endorphins in response to the heat. Is there a better day to publish this post?!
There are so many products now that mix the bitter with the sweet, and Chilli and Chocolate is possibly the best combination. I love the Whittard Chilli Hot Chocolate (now in new packaging), not only does the Hot Chocolate warm you up, the Chilli will leave a lasting warm sensation in your mouth, smoothly slipping down your throat and into your stomach. You feel the physical feeling of heat from the hot milk, then the lasting tingle of the chilli in your throat. The same goes for the Thornton’s slab of Chilli Chocolate, even without an actual, real, ‘heat’ element. If you let it melt on your tongue, again you’ll feel the pleasant sensation of warmth that lasts a little while. The Chocolate ‘takes the edge off’ the unpleasant “pain” sensation of the chilli, and just leaves the warm feeling – as well as the endorphins too, I presume!
I’ve been experimenting lately with incorporating 70% Dark Chocolate into my Chilli con Carne, I’ve got no recipe for it as I just let it melt into the mixture. I find it makes the dish smoother and makes it easier to taste the different elements of the ingredients (chocolate including!) without your eyes watering and nose running.
Why don’t you have a go and report back? Or do you have other strange food combinations to try? I also love mango chocolate! (Thornton’s; you need to bring that back…)
Ps. If anyone wants any heart sequins feel free to help you self to my hoover bag, or my rug/carpet or even the chilli. It’s everywhere.
Pps. Don’t ask me why I have two kettles. I’m British.