Fire up your tastebuds … it’s International Hot and Spicy Food Day!
Each year on 16th January, International Hot and Spicy Food Day allows lovers of heat and chilli to celebrate all things spicy. Around the world events take place to commemorate the day including chilli-eating challenges and cooking competitions.
Hot spices have been used in recipes and cooking for over 6000 years. In addition to the enhancement of flavour, spicy food has other benefits. Spices have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, and they can help fight inflammation in the body. Want to boost your metabolism or warm up on a cold day? Spicy foods can help.
If you are planning on celebrating International Hot and Spicy Food Day by creating a hot and spicy meal, you can draw inspiration from one of the many cultures around the world who are well known for their spicy dishes including Indian, Chinese, Thai, Creole and the Caribbean.
Chillies and peppers are rated for their heat on the Scoville Scale, a measure of pungency and capsaicin content that was invented in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacologist. The Scoville Scale measures heat in Scoville Heat Units (SHU) with the higher the Scoville rating, the hotter the chilli. A capsicum usually measures between 100 and 500 SHU while a jalapeno is around 5000 SHU. Habenero chillies, popular in Mexican cuisine, rate at 150,000 SHU. The title of hottest chilli is fiercely contested with spice afficionados constantly trying to create new spicier varieties of chilli. The current hottest chilli in the world is the Carolina Reaper which tops the Scoville Scale with a massive 2,200,000 SHU!
So this International Hot and Spicy Food Day why not embrace the fire and celebrate the day? You could cook a meal using spices that you have not eaten before, or visit a restaurant or takeaway with spicy food. If you’re feeling really adventurous have a chilli-eating challenge and see just how much heat you can handle. A word of warning though, keep a glass of milk or a tub of yoghurt on hand as dairy foods will ease the firey sensation in your mouth while drinking water will make the burning worse. Be careful not to handle chillies and rub your eyes. It is advisable to wear gloves when handling hot chillies.