We were on vacation in Puerto Vallarta — enjoying “empty nesting” that I first wrote about here. We went to a brunch at a luxurious gringo resort — complete with every type of food imaginable — waffle and omelet stations, a taco bar, sushi, every type of seafood and protein known to man, plus gorgeous arrays of fruits and salads.
I was being so good, trying to stick to a high protein, low carb plate — salmon, pork, a taste of sushi. And then I saw roasted Serrano chilis near the elaborate Mexican dishes. It wouldn’t hurt to just have a taste, would it? I plunked the single chili onto my plate next to the scrambled eggs.
Later, sitting at the table with my husband, friends, and a person we had just met, I cut off a small bite of the chili. POW! YIKES! Help me, Jesus! How could I sit still, be polite and nod and smile?
My eyes watered, I shifted up and down in my seat and I thought I was crawling out of my skin. I was ready to jump on the table and do a happy dance!
That was the all time hottest chili. Ever. So much for the high protein low carb diet — I began stuffing my mouth with bread, tortillas, chips — anything to get the soaring heat to die.
The next evening at dinner, I listened to one of our friends tell a story about when he was in college and ate his first jalapeño. He was told that the secret was to keep the chili from getting any air. So right from the jar, he slipped the jalapeño into his mouth and closed his lips tight. Then he chewed and was blasted with unbelievable heat. He said the guy who told him “the secret way to eat chilis” laughed so hard that he’s probably still laughing today — 40 years later.
Now that I’m away from the freshly roasted peppers, I looked up a few things about chilis. First, serrano chilis are typically eaten raw and have a bright and biting flavor that is notably hotter than the jalapeño pepper. No kidding!
There is a thing called the Scoville Scale that measures the spicy heat of the pepper! Who knew?
What makes a chili hot? The answer is capsaicin. What is that you ask?
“Capsaicin (/kæpˈseɪ.ɨsɪn/; 8-methyl–N–vanillyl-6-nonenamide) is an active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact.” — from Wikipedia.
If you ever have the horribly uncomfortable occasion of biting into a super hot chili — milk and dairy is the answer. I did not know this. Do not drink water, tea or coffee. Try milk, yogurt or cheese to cut the heat. The next best thing is bread, rice or pasta.
Besides the great food and hot peppers, what did I enjoy about Puerto Vallarta? Try this!