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Food
6

Enjoy Hot, Spicy Foods

Spices have played a vital role in the culinary arts throughout history. People from all over the world would travel to and explore new and exotic lands just to find new spices. Spices were once as tools for trade, have been the middle man of wars, and aided in famous poetry. Spices were also once used for embalming purposes. Spices are often dried seeds, roots, sometimes fruits, and vegetables. They are most often used for flavoring, cooking, and even preserving meats and vegetables. They can be applied to various dishes as powders or purees, ingested fresh and whole, or smoked and preserved.

hot - chilies

Historical and Modern Uses [of Various Spices]:

Currency in Trades:
This sometimes would spark wars between different countries and governments.

Reasons for Exploration:
The majority of spices are grown near the equator, in warmer climates which also helps to fights infectious diseases.

Embalming Process:
Used in Ancient Egypt

Medicinal Purposes:
For instance, the wonder of the Miracle Nutmeg that aided thousands during the London plague of 1603. Over 35,000 were infected.  Wars between the Portuguese and Dutch begun, and then between the Dutch and English, just to have some Miracle Nutmeg. It is believed in Modern times that the new Miracle spice is Turmeric. Turmeric has been helpful in the prevention and treatment for cancerous and leukemic cells.

Religious or Ritual Purposes:
Spices held connections or affiliations with different Gods of all cultures throughout history and even today. It is still believed in some cultures that with the spices and incense, that one will have a safer travel into the afterlife.

Cosmetic or perfume:
Spices have strong scents and perfumes and have been used in historical and modern times.

Antibiotics:
Many spices contain Antimicrobial properties.

Prevention of Spoiling or Rotting:
Spices help prevent meat or vegetables from spoiling or rotting

Aphrodisiac:
Spices and herbs such as Cinnamon and Rosemary are natural aphrodisiacs that aid in fertility.

Nutrition:
While Paprika has vitamin A, many other spices contain essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, and calcium which are important for the human body to have.

Health and Dieting:
Spices are not high in fats or calories, and are often used in moderation. The hotter the spice will help the blood flow increase and cardiovascular system become stronger. They can aid in weight loss by jacking up your metabolism, and helping to burn calories. Spices also help lower LDL, or bad cholesterol levels in your heart and fights inflammations in the body. Hot-Spices containing capsaicin will help to break up mucus in your respiratory system and help you get over a cold faster.

Boosts Production of Feel-Good Hormones:
Releasing serotonin in your body helps ease stress and depression.

Hangovers:
Hot and spicy foods and soups can really come in handy for those who are experiencing a hangover. Not only will the heat distract you from your headache, but you’re blood flow and sugar levels will increase, and you may even sweat out some of the hangover toxins.

hot - spice

The majority of the world’s spices are found or grown and then exported from India. Many of these spices, plants, and peppers were brought to India from countries worldwide. India is great hot-spot to grow spices, plants, and peppers because of its geographic location. Warmer climates can produce hotter chili peppers and are most enjoyed by people who also live in warmer climates. Most of the world’s hottest and spicier chili peppers are grown in India and other South Asian countries like Bangladesh. These outrageously hot chili peppers include the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper, Bhut Jolokia or “Ghost” Chili pepper, the Infinity Chile, the Habanero pepper, and the scorching Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.

 

The Scoville Scale:
This scale tests the unit measurement of pungency or spicy heat of chili peppers. It is often seen as SHU, (Scoville Heat Units).

hot - scale

Feeling Hungry and Adventurous…

Here are just some examples of Foods from Around the World that contain either a lot of Spices or are considered as EXTREMELY Hot-and-Spicy:

South Asia:

India – Vindaloo Pork:
hot - vindaloo

Brought to India by the Portuguese, this dish is made up of pork that is marinated in red wine, garlic, and chili peppers. The recipe has changed a bit through out time and now serves as a very spicy curry often served with naan bread.

 

Polynesian SE Asia:

Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia – OtakOtak:
hot - otak otak indonesia

All of these South East Asian countries enjoy this spicy fish-cake dish which is given its flavor from dried chilies blended in a shrimp paste known as belacan, galangal peppers, lemon grass, shallots, turmeric, and candlenuts. The fish cake is then placed on top of a plantain or banana leaf.

 

Buddhist SE Asia:

Thailand – Pad Prik Khing:
hot - pad prik khing

Enjoy your pork, seafood, or veggies the hot and spicy way! Dried red chilies and ginger are added to the curry paste, shrimp paste, to help kick up the heat in this dish that also features exotic flavors of garlic, lemongrass, kaffir lime peel, and galangal.

Vietnam – Bun Bo Hue:

Dried chilies, lemongrass, and shrimp paste, and beef bones bring flavor to the unique spicy beef broth which is sometimes served with mint leaves, bean sprouts, and lime wedges.

 

East Asia:

China – Sichuan Huoguo:
hot - sichuan huoguo

Like many of the dishes served in the Sichuan Provence of china, this hot-pot includes the Sichuan sauce that has “Flower peppers”. These peppers are known for their numbing capabilities, and leave the mouth-watering and the eyeballs bulging.

 

Korea – Kimchi Jjigae:
hot - kimchi jjigae

This dish is conducted of fermented and then again seasoned cabbage, tofu, garlic, mushrooms, green onions, and is served often just below boiling temperatures.

Korea – Gochujang Meatballs:
hot - gochujang

The meat is seasoned with white peppers, ginger, and onion and then glazed with the same ingredients including a Korean chili paste.

 

Europe:

United Kingdom – Phall:
hot - phall

One of the few spicy dishes that are from northern Europe is the British version of Indian curry. The dish includes over ten hot chili peppers, which contain both the Habanero and Scotch Bonnet.

 

North Africa:

Morocco – Marrakesh Spice Markets:
hot - marakesh

You’ll find some amazing treasures at one of the many Marrakesh spice markets in Morocco. Although many of the traditional dishes are not hot-spicy, there is a large amount of spice used in every dish… these spices are typically cinnamon, cumin, saffron, ginger, peppers, and turmeric.

 

East Africa

Ethiopia – Sik Sik Wat or Dorowat:
hot - ethiopia

Chile peppers, paprika, fenugreek flavored beef or chicken are mixed into a stew and served with injera bread.

 

Caribbean:

Jamaica – Jamaican Jerk:
hot - jamaicain jerk

This special sauce and or seasoning is made up of cayenne, jalapeno, Habanero, and scotch bonnet peppers. The seasoning then covers your preference of pork, chicken, or steak.

Haiti – Griot with Ti-Malice Sauce:
hot - groit tmalice

Spices include the Habanero and scotch bonnet and creates a spicy-tangy flavor atop pork and finished with a spicy pickled pepper garnish.

 

Indigenous South America:

Bolivia – Llajwa:

Spicy Bolivian Salsa. Use jalapeno or locoto peppers, and their seeds, cilantro, tomatoes, and onions. Your mouth will be watering, for more spicy salsa!

Peru – Criolli or Creole CauCau:
hot - peru criolli

This dish is really interesting because it is inspired by a vast array and mix of cultures including African, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Indigenous South America. Yellow Chile peppers and potatoes make a delicious tripe stew.

 

Central America:

Mexico – Chilaquiles:
hot - chilaquiles

Sweat, tears, and a hangover remedy. This dish consists of lightly fried corn tortillas covered with tomato sauce, cheese, onions, and a ton of Habanero chilies.

 

United States:

Louisiana – Shrimp Creole:
hot - shrimp creole

Not to be confused with its similar counterpart, Cajun Shrimp, Shrimp Creole is conducted of shrimp, cayenne peppers, other peppers, onions, garlic, celery, and tomatoes.

And all over the USA – Hot Wings:
hot - usa wings

The many flavors and seasonings for the infamous Hot Wings go from mild to scorching hot. Some restaurants have been known for using the Bhut Jolokia, or “Ghost” Chili pepper, which is known as one of the hottest naturally grown peppers in the world.

 

For the more mild-minded:

You can still add a little zing and flavor to your favorite dishes without all the extra added heat…

  • Add ginger to your favorite cup of tea or hot water.
  • Add red pepper flakes to any dinner or stir-fry.
  • Add coriander, (Chinese parsley), to a multitude of dishes.

 

 

 

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Written by Rachael Bogdans

I am a recent graduate from Grand Valley State University where I studied Film/Video and Anthropology. My goal is to serve the world with communication of and about other cultures; the many different practices, alternatives to cooking and medicine, and to enlighten those who may have suffered from xenophobia.

There are 6 comments

  • cultivateandharvest says:

    Very informative and well-written. Keep up the good work! I learned a lot.

  • Matthew Leach says:

    This article made me hungry. So far, haven’t found anything too terribly spicy in Oman… but then, I haven’t really been looking. There is a huge Indian and Pakistani population here, and they do most of the food prep, but so far the spiciest thing I have had was in a Korean restaurant… forgot how potent those little green peppers are.

    • o0aquamentus0o says:

      Ahhhh… 청양고추??? Those are super terrible. They like to masquerade as the sweeter and milder cucumber peppers that look EXACTLY THE SAME. Whyyyy…

  • Koreans are famous for being able to eat very spicy food. I thought I had a high spice tolerance until I eat some Spicy octopus with my Korean friend. He couldn’t finish my dish. However, the next day when we went to a Mexican restaurant he found the food to be too spicy, but I didn’t!!!!

    Why do you think this is??

    • Rachael Bogdans says:

      Oooh, Interesting! Perhaps you built a spicy-loving-immunity to the different chili seeds and flavors used in Mexican foods since you grew up eating more of it than those living in Korea. The spices and chilies are different in every region, more used in some cultures than others… Perhaps it was also the way the meat was cooked and was different from his regular diet? Hmm.. Great question!

    • o0aquamentus0o says:

      I sort of empathize with your Korean friend. Korean food seems very rarely to be *just* spicy; it has a lot of other flavors (especially salty and sweet) with which to distract the palate—unlike Mexican food, which, when spicy, is just… spicy. Korean food is also served very hot and eaten with chopsticks, so with a few exceptions you can’t really take a big heaping bite of it like you can a burrito. What did you eat?

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