Monday, April 2, 2007

Let's Do Some Scovilles, Man!

Naga Jolokia

I have been hearing recently from various sources that vegetarianism is “unmanly,” and that conversely, eating meat is macho. Of course you see ads plugging meat as a manly food, dismissing tofu as something sissy. These attitudes spread over into other media like opinion columns, blogs, conversations, etc.

I am not going to bother arguing the ridiculous notion that a man’s diet determines how macho he is. It’s just absurd on the face of it. Instead, I’ll just point out two things.

First, how macho is meat exactly? How much manliness does it take to go to the supermarket and buy some packaged meat from an animal that was cruelly tortured during its life and suffered an agonizing death? I’d say none. And I thought that people who torture animals are regarded more as psychopaths and bullies rather than exemplars of manly virtues. Does torturing animals to obtain meat somehow change that?

Second, I can easily think of one food more macho than meat. It’s a vegetable, and it’s so manly it even has it’s own measuring scale. I’m talking peppers and Scoville Heat Units. You’ll seldom see a man back down from the so-called challenge of eating steak, but offer him a few habanero peppers and see him squirm.

The hottest pepper in the world is from India, the primeval home of vegetarianism. Pictured here is the Indian pepper Naga Jolokia (naga morich, bhut jolokia), the chili tested hottest in the world at 1.04M SHU, enough to blister your mouth! How does that compare to other peppers? Here’s a handy scale courtesy of Wikipedia:

Scoville rating Type of pepper
15,000,000 - 16,000,000 Pure capsaicin
9,100,000 Nordihydrocapsaicin
2,000,000 - 5,300,000 Standard US Grade pepper spray
855,000 - 1,041,427 Naga Jolokia
876,000 - 970,000 Dorset Naga
350,000 - 577,000 Red Savina™ Habanero
100,000 - 350,000 Habanero Chile
100,000 - 350,000 Scotch Bonnet
100,000 - 200,000 Jamaican Hot Pepper
50,000 - 100,000 Thai Pepper, Malagueta Pepper, Chiltepin Pepper
30,000 - 50,000 Cayenne Pepper
10,000 - 23,000 Serrano Pepper
7,000 - 8,000 Tabasco Sauce (Habanero)
5,000 - 10,000 Wax Pepper
2,500 - 8,000 Jalapeño Pepper
2,500 - 5,000 Tabasco Sauce
1,500 - 2,500 Rocotillo Pepper
1,000 - 1,500 Poblano Pepper
600 - 800 Tabasco Sauce (Green Pepper)
500 - 1000 Anaheim pepper
100 - 500 Pimento, Pepperoncini
0 No heat, Bell Pepper


What’s your manliness level? Personally, while I won’t dine on animal corpses, I’ll be happy to throw down a few Habaneros with you. That’s the hottest I’ve had, and I wouldn’t turn down a try at something hotter. Would you? C’mon, sissy!

1 comment:

JaneDoughnut said...

I can't bite into a Habanero. I'm such a pussy.