Scovilles Aplenty

August 25, 2005 at 8:17pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I had lunch today with Mr. T and a joint acquaintance, whom for today we will call “The Black Widow.” I will spare you the full back story, but Mr. T and The Black Widow decided to make a wager: whichever of them lasted longer in a hot chile eating competition would win a free steak dinner, purchased by the loser. I would act as the judge, and I would supply the chiles from my garden. I just happened to have a couple fresh habaneros waiting to be eaten.

The rules of the competition were:

  1. Each of you takes an habanero and cuts it into 10 pieces (stem not included) of roughly equal size.
  2. At the same time, you each place one of the pieces onto your tongue, where it must sit for 15 seconds. Then you will chew and swallow.
  3. Repeat at one minute intervals for all ten pieces.
  4. The first person to require food, drink, or other assistance loses.
  5. No silverware is permitted, except a knife to be used in step 1 (above).
  6. In the event of a tie, the winner will be the individual who can best survive rubbing his/her eyes with his habanero-covered fingers. I will be the judge. If my impartiality is questioned, our server can be the judge. (I wasn’t actually serious about this rule, but I threw it in anyway.)
  7. If you swear at any p oint during the contest, you automatically lose. “Creative” swearing, however, is permitted and encouraged (i.e. “Holy burning sphincters, Batman! My colon is melting!”)
  8. I reserve the right to declare the contest null and void if my habaneros turn out to be insufficiently hot due to less-than-ideal chile growing conditions in my garden. (That shouldn’t be a problem, but since I haven’t actually eaten one of my habaneros yet, I can’t say for certain. Nebraska’s clay soil isn’t exactly prime for chile growing.)

As it turns out, that last rule was unnecessary.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, habaneros are hot. Really hot. They clock in at 80,000 to 300,000 scovilles, which is far hotter than jalapenos’ 2,500 to 10,000 scovilles. Habaneros really shouldn’t be toyed with. Mr. T and The Black Widow didn’t care.

As the competition unfolded both Mr. T and The Black Widow attempted a few tactics to get out of having to subject themselves to the chiles, but neither would let the other pass. I, of course, egged them both on. When we began, The Black Widow’s face registered pain almost immediately. Mr. T, on the other hand, appeared quite unimpressed. The pattern continued on pieces two, three, and four. Then something changed.

At first it was subtle. So subtle I didn’t see it. But The Black Widow pointed it out to me: Mr. T was burning up. His face was turning fire engine red, and he was beginning to sweat. As it turns out, Mr. T was beatable.

Mr. T finally cracked after the seventh piece (approximtely 70% of his habanero). The Black Widow popped an eighth piece into her mouth to official signal her victory, while Mr. T crumpled in emotional and physical agony. For a while it appeared that Mr. T would deposit his spicy meal back onto the table, but he managed to keep everything down.

Now you’re probably wondering why I didn’t participate in this immature show of machismo. Two reasons. First, I value my colon. I don’t think I need to go into more details about that. Second, there’s no way I was going to go up against Mr. T and The Black Widow. I’m familiar with their resumes. I knew both of them had much more experience than I with spicy foods. I was raised in southeast Nebraska where black pepper is considered spicy. I love spicy foods, but I know very well I can’t compete with more experienced palattes.

I did, however, partake of one piece of habanero. It was so spicy it actually made me start to hiccup. It was easily the hottest thing I had ever eaten. Buried beneath the heat, however, was a pleasant taste. But you really have to dig under a whole lot of heat before you can find the flavor. I know I wouldn’t have made it past three or four pieces had I participated in the contest (and that’s only if I were able to stop hiccuping long enough to eat the darn things).

So congratulations to The Black Widow, and raspberries to Mr. T. A valiant effort was made by both!

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The Comments

Steve August 27, 2005 at 2:44am

Man, that’s dangerous.  A friend of mine worked in a natural foods store in Austin in the produce dept. and he ended up in the hospital as the result of a habanero eating contest.

Mr. T August 27, 2005 at 3:40pm

Yes that was my thought. It was definitely hot tasting, but what caused me reservations was a deep burning pain in my gut. A burned mouth which will heal later is fine, but I wasn’t going to risk an ulcer on a $25 steak meal or whatever it was.

Oh and kudos to Mr. Wilson for making sure all my colleagues at work knew about it too. wink

BW April 26, 2006 at 11:40pm

Yeah, habeneros are not something for the inexperienced. I come from Liberia which is in West Africa, a part of the world where people eat the hottest pepper and start so from birth (or in the womb if you will). In my ethnic group it is even a custom to put a hot pepper paste on new borns noses. Here in America the pepper which is the closest in hotness that I’ve found is habenero. I usually eat one everyday with a bowl a rice with one of our stew which has 3-4 of them cooked in and about 6 ground up. Usually when I make a steak or some chicken I ground up 10 or so with some onion and garlic into a paste, smear it all over and then cook it. Habenero is hot, but very good for you if your body is so conditioned to hot pepper that it is immune to its negative side effects. It is really high in Vitamin C, you have a cold and you cook some soup with it and it’ll be gone the next day. Do you know of any pepper eating contests?

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