Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Buzz surrounding super chili is hot, hot, HOT!

This news item is of especial interest to me, as a connoisseur and cultivator of hot peppers.

Yahoo!: Fire in the hole! Bhut jolokia, the hottest chili, is ready for the world
Around here, in the hills of northeastern India, it's called the "bhut jolokia" - the "ghost chili." Anyone who has tried it, they say, could end up an apparition.
"It is so hot you can't even imagine," said the farmer, Digonta Saikia, working in his fields in the midday sun, his face nearly invisible behind an enormous straw hat. "When you eat it, it's like dying."
Outsiders, he insisted, shouldn't even try it. "If you eat one," he told a visitor, "you will not be able to leave this place."
The rest of the world, though, should prepare itself.

Now I'm all a-twitter. Like all those who adore hot peppers, powerlifting, downhill skiing and the ancient game of quarters, the force of Thanatos wells strong within me at times. I suspect that my passion for drinking so much coffee that sometimes my heart defibrillates itself is tied closely to the passion that drives me to seek out the sweet, tasty pain of the hottest of pepper strains.

If I can talk about myself for a second (which hardly ever happens around here), my garden's crop of Cayenne Super Hybrids have come along wonderfully this year. I sliced a ripe one up quite thinly and put it on pizza the other night before popping the whole shebang in the oven, and it turned out great. However, I had a thin sliver left over, not much bigger than a toenail clipping, and popped it into my mouth raw. That, I learned, was something of an error. I estimated an entire pepper from my plants to be about one kajillion scovilles in intensity. Needless to say, I can't wait to take a crack at the bhut jolokia. Nietzsche said that every great gift was developed through contest, and I'd love to measure myself against such a trial.

Lest I forget, here's the business angle:

Chances are no one will get rich. But in a region where good news is a rarity, the world record status has meant a lot of pride - and a little more business.
"It has got tremendous potential," says Leena Saikia, the managing director of Frontal AgriTech, a food business in the northeastern state of Assam that has been in the forefront of bhut jolokia exports.
Last year, her company shipped out barely a tonne of the chilis. This year, amid the surge in publicity, the goal is 10 tonnes to nearly a dozen countries. "We're getting so many inquiries," says Saikia, whose name is common in Assam, and who is unrelated to the farmer. "We'll be giving employment to so many people."

No word yet on how the bhut jolokia compares to the legendary Guatemalan insanity pepper.

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