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Peppering with Paprika!
June 2nd, 2011
Paprika is a spice made from the grinding of dried peppers. In many European languages, the word paprika refers to bell peppers themselves. The seasoning is used in many cuisines to add color and flavor to dishes. Paprika can range from mild to hot and flavors also vary from country to country (my personal favorite is smoked paprika).
Paprika is produced in a number of places including Hungary, Spain and California and is used as an ingredient in a broad variety of dishes throughout the world. Paprika is primarily used to season and color rices, stews, and soups (such as Hungarian goulash), and in the preparation of sausages as an ingredient that is mixed with meat and other spices. In North America, paprika is frequently sprinkled on foods as a garnish, but the flavor is more effectively produced by heating it gently in oil.
Capsicum peppers used for paprika are unusually rich in vitamin C (contains more than is found in lemon juice by weight) and other antioxidants (about ten percent of the level found in acai berries).
The World’s Hottest Chile!
November 17th, 2010
The Naga Jolokia (the name originates from the ferocious Naga warriors what once inhabited Nagaland, an area in the far north-east part of India), also known as the Bhut Jolokia, ghost or cobra chile, is considered to be the hottest in the world. The Guiness World Records certified in 2007 that the Naga Jolokia was the hottest chile pepper recorded to date, being 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.
The Naga Jolokia is found in Bangladesh, the Assam region of northeastern India and Sri Lanka. These fiery little peppers (2 – 3 1/2 inches long and 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide) range in units of heat on the Scoville scale from 850,000 units to 1,042,000. For comparison purposes, Tabasco sauce measures from 2,500 to 5,000 units. Yikes! The Scoville rating of these chiles is dramatically impacted by the climate they are grown in (they will have far less heat if grown in an arid versus a humid climate).
Believe it or not, this chile is used in India as a homeopathic remedy for stomach ailments, as a spice to induce perspiration in the heat of summer (for natural air-conditioning purposes), in smoke bombs or smeared on fences to keep wild elephants away, as a hand grenade ingredient for crowd and terrorist control, and as a pepper spray ingredient for police use and self-defence.
The Birthplace of Chocolate
May 27th, 2010
Mexico is the birthplace of chocolate (thank you for such a wonderful gift to the world!). It was revered by the Aztecs and was served exclusively to priests and kings with such additions as herbs, chiles and honey. Although the hot chocolate of Mexico is famous throughout the world, they are also well known for their use of chocolate in a sauce called mole, where it is used as one of many spices.
Hot Sauce Trivia
May 8th, 2009
- Hot sauces are excellent in sauces and stir-fry’s, make quick and handy marinades before grilling food, and are always welcome condiments on the table.
- Research has proven that adding hot sauces to your foods can help your body burn calories faster (up to 45 calories more per meal than if you eat bland dishes).
- When people eat hotter sauces, they experience pain in their mouths and throats. The nervous system reacts to the pain by releasing morphine-like endorphins. Endorphins create a sense of euphoria similar to the “runner’s high” that some people get from exercise. People who regularly eat hot sauces and chiles will find that they develop a tolerance to the heat and will have to eat increasingly hotter sauces to get the high.
- Hot sauces are North American’s favorite way to turn up the heat and add some extra flavor and spice to their food. Most hot sauces are a blend of chiles, vinegar and salt, but many are variations that may also contain ingredients such as carrots, onion and papaya.
- By adding lots of flavor to food with hot sauces, chiles and spices, you can reduce the amount of fat, oil and salt in your diet.
- The stinking “rose”, otherwise known as garlic and a common ingredient in hot sauces, is an excellent antioxidant that can help reduce free radicals that exist in the human body. Garlic reduces cholesterol, clears arteries and helps maintain healthy blood circulation.The true hot sauce collector and aficionado looks for several qualities when evaluating a new sauce: appearance, originality, aroma, heat and flavor. Why not invite friends over for a hot sauce tasting party with evaluation forms for the sauces you’ll be trying? Try each sauce on unsalted crackers or tortilla chips and have some fun.
- Half the fun of collecting hot sauces is laughing at the names that their creators give them. The names are as original as the sauces themselves and range from reference to fire and explosion, animals, religious, crime and punishment, controversial, erotic, naughty, mental health, and western themes. The names and labels make us laugh and represent much of the fun that enjoying hot sauces bring us.
Hot and Spicy Mood Lifter
July 30th, 2008
We all know someone who loves their spicy food. Well, as it turns out, there is some science behind the love of hot flavors. Capsaicin, the chemical that produces the heat in chiles and peppers, increases the release of feel-good endorphins when the spice hits the tongue, according to Dr. Paul Rozin, Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Endorphins are known for their ability to reduce stress, relieve depression, and significantly raise the spirits. So, if you need an emotional lift, add some hot sauce or cayenne pepper to your next meal.